Beercrat newspaper column #97: Gifts.

‘Tis the season for beer

By Mark Tichenor & Bruce Lish


Given the season, we should probably be impelling you to spend money. After all, that’s what everybody else is doing.


We should probably be insulting your intelligence with the suggestion that you don’t have the mental capacity to figure out what gifts to buy your friends and loved ones, and that you need random columnists’ assistance in choosing the present that makes the perfect statement.


Well, considering our dedicated subject matter, we’re obviously going to suggest you give the gift of beer. As for the statement that makes, it depends on the recipient, and, of course, on the beer proffered.


Now obviously you won’t give a 30-pack of sub premium  cans, unless you’re participating in your employer’s ‘Secret Santa’ deal (you should probably check your human resources manual first). The Holidays are a time to give something special, and the craft beer scene offers plenty of options that, while comparatively inexpensive, offer a level of luxury that a beer lover would infrequently pay for as matter of course.


If you want to bring something classy and delicious to a Christmas party, we suggest Hennepin from Brewery Ommegang of Cooperstown, NY, It comes in a beautiful bottle, corked and caged. The gingery spiciness of this golden, Belgian-style saison ale pairs well with the heavier foods of a holiday dinner. It’s affordable and commonly available around the Rochester area.


Hennepin’s presentation makes it a good choice to bring to a Christmas party. The beer exudes an elegance that makes it stand out when placed on a kitchen island among the bottles of boring old wine brought by other guests. If being recognized for your good taste is important to you, a bottle of Hennepin is a way to achieve that goal.


For the true beer lover who’s tried it all, we recommend Brewdog Bashah .It’s a collaboration between Brewdog, the hottest brewery in Scotland, and Stone, the most happening brewery in the US.


It’s easy for the eye to get lost in Bashah’s’s impenetrable black murk, yet the pale head exhibits a liveliness and foreshadows a relatively light mouthfeel.


Cocoa floods your mouth on the sip: not sweet chocolate, but the earthy, roasted tones of bakers chocolate that develop when you exhale after a swallow. It finishes with citrus and pine, lightening the cocoa load, with a noticeable Belgian character.


Bashah is a limited release; they only produced a few thousand bottles. But a beer lover who receives this brew as a gift is just as likely to stash it in the cellar as open it on Christmas day. This beer can be a prize piece in a collector’s racks.

Finally, for that easy last-minute gift, there’s the Chimay pack. Chimay is an honest-to-gosh bunch of Belgian Trappist monks who’ve done pretty well for themselves on the world beer scene. Throw down for their gift box and you’ll get a Chimay Bleu a Chimay Red and a Chimay white. The gift pack also comes with a heavy, chunky goblet designed specifically for Belgian trappist ales.


Whether you’re shopping last minute, or actually taking the time to fulfill the wishes of a beer lover in your life, delightful beers are available for the occasion. And the best part? You don’t have to get up at three freakin’ o’clock in the morning to get good deals on them.


Isn’t that what the Holidays are really about?


Bruce is a certified beer judge and commercial brewer. Mark owns a laptop and likes beer. For more on beer, check out the beercraft blog, updated regularly, at Find us on Twitter @beercraft. Send your questions, suggestions, or comments to



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