Beer Break Vol. 2, No. 8
Thinking outside the bottle
Nov. 29, 2001
The suggestions in our (growing) Real Beer Holiday Gift Guide
aren't intended to be comprehensive. They are meant to put you in the proper
frame of mind. If you don't have fun shopping for the beer enthusiast on your
holiday list then you aren't really trying.
So get started now. Here are a half dozen more suggestions to prime your
- A MEMBERSHIP IN THE CAMPAIGN FOR REAL ALE. This is a better gift for
somebody who lives in Great Britain or intends to visit soon, but also works
for U.S. citizens. Members gets the monthly publication "What's Brewing,"
discounts on nifty CAMRA gear and a membership card that should impress
friends and local bartenders. Plus the dues support a consumer organization
that continues to play an essential role in preserving traditional ales.
Membership for a year costs £18.
- BEER CHEESE. Not just any cheese, but actual Trappist monastery products.
If a store near you doesn't carry cheese made in Belgium, don't despair. The
Abbey of Bethesmani in Trappist, Ky., has a variety of choices, including
whole wheels of aged cheese. They don't sell beer but do ship bourbon fudge,
and all from the wonderful URL of www.monks.org.
- TAVERN PUZZLES. Also known as Blacksmith's Puzzles, these are available
from specialty stores and also online. You occasionally see them in quality
pubs such as Clark's Ale House in Syracuse, N.Y., but it is a lot less
embarrassing to be baffled by one in the privacy of your own home bar. They
cost about $15.
- A CLASSIC BOTTLE OPENER. Although a growing number of craft brewers bottle
beer with twist off caps, and even a few sell beer in cans, most often you
need an opener to pop the top on a bottle of real beer. You can spend a
little (like for a stocking stuffer) or a lot for one of these. Nearly 1,200
listed on an average day at www.ebay.com.
- A BEER FRIDGE. Wait, it doesn't have to cost a lot. Used refrigerators sell
for very little and you can add a temperature controller for about $50.
Compare that to the modest wine "cellar" that holds 30 bottle of wine and
sells for $327 at Lowe's - or the much higher prices that fancier wine
cellars command. Of course, you have to know your friend has room for the
- A HOP PILLOW. The aroma of hops help people relax and fall asleep. You may
have to sow your own pillow, using a tightly woven fabric. If you are worried
about preparing hops, Puterbaugh Farms in Mabton, Wash., sells a mixture
designed to be used in a pillow.
KOFF WINTER PORTER
Brewed by Sinebrychoff in Finland
Michael Jackson writes:
A spiced version of one of my favorite brews, in the Baltic Porter (or
Imperial Stout) style. Huge, darkish, head. Jet black color. Very creamy,
coffeeish, aroma. Chewy, creamy, body. Lots of the typical burnt-fruit
character. The flavor is given an extra kick by the spicing of ginger,
cinnamon and cloves. The ginger seems most evident. Koff is one of the more
hoppy Baltic Porters. The spices seem to accentuate the typical lingering
dryness in the finish.
RUSSIAN RIVER PORTER
Brewed by Russian River Brewing in Gurneyville, Calif.
Roger Protz writes:
A dry, yet creamy chocolate aroma balanced by peppery hops, with tart fruit,
hops and bitter chocolate dominating the palate. The long finish has hops
beautifully balancing the rich, creamy malt and espresso coffee flavors.
Deeply satisfying, quenching and marvelous restorative, as befits a beer
style fashioned as a pick-me-up for the 18th-centry market porters.