91. Good last minute gifts for bad shoppers

Yesterday I had my company Christmas lunch, yay, and then I had to go shopping at the mall for last minute Christmas gifts. I had managed to avoid it and go local for everyone this year- but there’s always that one person who throws a wrench in the spokes. And that person would be my sister wanting nothing but a blender for mixed drinks. Thanks. Because I knew I had to face the mall, not only ripe with Christmas shoppers, but also with the addition of the rainy day crowd, I made it a two-drink lunch and went to face the fourth circle (greed) of Dante’s Inferno (the mall) with a nice buzz. Seriously, the women swarming around the Victoria’s Secret bin of discount “PINK” yoga pants remind me of maggots to meat, and then there’s hundreds of their red-faced, squalling spawn, far past the age of bawling to convey their needs (not babies) pitching fits for expensive toys. Back in my day, back when I walked uphill to school, both ways, Santa would have given me a big, “lol no, u suk u were bad. tty next year.” Or, you know, I would have just known not to act that way. But in a world where Wal-Mart greeters get trampled to death so people can buy trac-phones on sale, can we really be surprised by this behavior?

So to help you avoid the stress of last-minute shopping (no one should experience the horror), here’s a list of gifts that don’t require the mall, won’t break the bank, and are good for people who like to drink beer, or who want to get into beer. Sure, it’s almost Christmas Eve, but if you are shopping this late, you did it to yourself and you will just have to suck up the hefty expedited shipping fees. Here are my picks:

1- Brooklyn Brew Shop Beer Making Kit- $40


Brooklyn Brew Shop Kit

These kits are great for anyone looking to get into homebrewing, and there are so many flavor options- jalapeno saison, chocolate maple porter. you name it. They make a one gallon batch, which is a lot easier to manage if you are just learning, or if you live in a small apartment. One gallon batches are the way to go, bottling is easier, and if your space is limited you can have several different brews going at once, and if one doesn’t come out as planned, it’s a lot easier to get rid of a bad one-gallon batch than tossing out five gallons. If you’ve tried their kits and like them, or already have all the equipment and want to take it to the next level, that brings me to gift #2…

2- Brooklyn Brew Shop Beer Making Book- $19.99

Beer Making Book

Beer Making Book

This book is loaded with seasonal beer recipes, and each chapter ends with food dishes and snacks that can be paired with each beer. The recipes range from spruce beers, to peanut butter porters, all using seasonal ingredients that can easily be sourced locally. They also have some gluten-free recipes, so for glutards who think their beer-lives are over due to intolerance- think again!

3- 99 Bottles of Beer journal $7-10

Beer journal set

Beer journal set

These little journals are great. They’re small and thin enough to fit in a purse, but come with a cardboard case so that you can store them all in one place as they fill up. Each journal holds 33 beers (so the set of 3 adds up to 99 bottles…get it?) and each entry page has places for you to mark price, ABV, type glass used, a flavor/aroma charting system, spaces for the nuances of the beer, color, you name it. It’s nice to have something to organize reviews instead of writing on margins of receipts and napkins, or texting myself snippets of a review as I sip beer out with friends. These are the *official* journals of Two Girls, fyi.

4- Brewery tour and dinner-

Miller tour

Miller tour in 2009- my first brewery, aw. I’m on the right.

This one is kind of a no-brainer, but good if you are looking for a romantic gift and are on a budget brewery tastings are almost always free, and brewpubs often have affordable flights paired with cheese plates and meats. Make a day of it, the brewery tour takes up an afternoon, dinner in the evening. A lot of people don’t realize how fun tours are. I’m planning on taking my dad to Sam Adams as a father/daughter activity this week. He used to homebrew, and I don’t know if he’s toured a brewery before so I know he’ll love it, plus we get to spend time together having more fun than we would if I threw down money for a fancy dinner.

5- Collection of beer to cellar, $10-?- 

Beers for aging

Beers for aging

The cool thing about beer is that you can get a nice bottle of beer for a fraction of the price of a nice bottle of wine. That makes it good for giving- if you buy someone a $10 bottle of beer, you’ve gotten them a nice gift, and it can be aged to taste even better. If you get a sommelier  $10 bottle wine, it probably comes in a gallon jug, and probably isn’t meant to be cellared. For example, I picked up a bottle of the very limited Boulevard Saison-Brett for around $10-15, and was thrilled. Into my budding “beer cellar” it went. The general guidelines for cellaring beer are that it should have an alcohol volume of 8%, be more of a malty beer as opposed to an IPA, and check if it has something like “aged” or “reserve” in the description. That’s not necessary, but it usually means the beer is more suited for being cellared. This site has some helpful tips.

6- Custom Beer Tasting Flight Set-  $29.95

Custom flight set

Custom flight set

I just got this for my birthday, and it was one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten. It’s great for when you want to sample a bomber with some friends, or compare a couple different brews. It looks really nice out on the counter with your bottles of craft beer, you know, makes you look more like an aficionado instead of a person with beer on the counter.


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