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Hoppy Holidays!

Thanksgiving is in our rearview mirror and we are now barreling straight ahead into Christmas, Hannukah, and many other important cultural and religious winter holidays… Let the gifting commence! If you’re anything like me, it can be hella challenging to find the perfect gift every December for your loved ones. Especially as adults, because well, we’re all a little boring to be honest. Mom, Dad, friends, and other family members are always saying, “Oh, please don’t get me anything!” or “I don’t need anything, save your money!” …But come Christmas Day, we’re lugging a Santa-sized sack to Grandma’s house and passing out gifts to everyone anyways. Perhaps your present will be exquisitely perfect and adored by the receiver, however, the more likely scenario is that it will be returned, re-gifted, or collecting dust on a shelf somewhere. That’s where this article comes into play – identify the beer lovers in your life and gift the people something that they’ll love this holiday season!

Events & Tickets: A great option for gifting someone a good time while also giving you the option to purchase a ticket for yourself to join in on the fun and create lasting memories!

If you missed the New York State Craft Brewers Festival last month at the Landmark Theatre in Syracuse, or you have beer-loving friends and relatives located in the eastern portion of NY State, good news! The NYS Craft Brewers Association is holding another brewfest on Saturday, January 28th, 2023 at The Desmond Hotel in Albany, NY. Tickets should be up for grabs in December for the upcoming event. Head to www.thinknydrinkny.com for all the details. 

Subscriptions: The gift that keeps on giving all year long! 

The Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club offers 5 different subscription tiers starting at $35.95/month plus shipping and handling: The US Microbrewed Beer Club, The US and International Variety Beer Club, The Hop-Heads Beer Club, The International Beer Club, and The Rare Beer Club. This subscription service has been around since 1994 and one can assume they have not only established relationships and networked their way into providing some of the best beers around, but they’ve been able to work out the kinks in the system to provide seamless customer service. www.beermonthclub.com 

Shirts On Tap is a custom screen print shop based out of San Diego, CA dedicated to helping breweries, brands, and creators bring their artwork to life via a monthly shirt subscription box. Each month, they have several boxes to choose from ranging from different states and cities to different activity categories, that each feature a brewery. From there, you pick a shirt style (mens, womens or unisex), size, and design. Each box includes the shirt, sticker, discount coupon, and bio of the featured brewery. All shirts are limited edition and only printed during the month that brewery or shirt design is being featured. Boxes range from $25-$37/month. www.shirtsontap.com

Home Décor & Furnishings: So many options to choose from, and you’re even likely to find beer-related items shopping at the big-box stores in addition to perusing online.  

Tin Tackers, a woman-founded and owned business, has a giant selection of embossed aluminum beer signs or “tin tackers” as they’re called in the brewing industry, and provide a great gift option for those who have a home-bar area to decorate. Choose from well-known breweries such as Left Hand or Goose Island, or smaller (and local!) breweries such as Bagg’s Square (Utica, NY). In addition, they too offer a subscription box: Every month you’ll receive an exclusively curated mini-tacker (8” x 8” or smaller) from a partnered brewery in the US. Extra surprise “swag” is included in each box to boot. www.tintackers.com 

Novelties & Apparel: Most all of our local breweries (Buried Acorn, Willow Rock, Heritage Hill, etc.) are swimming in logo t-shirts, glassware, stickers, and more. Shopping local not only pumps money into our local economy and small businesses, but they are also readily available options to pick-up last-minute gifts. (And maybe even grab a pint in the process!) 

If the beer-lover in your life enjoys non-craft brews like Coors or Bud Light, there are plenty of gift options for them too. Online is your best bet and especially visiting the brewery’s website directly. For example, the Coors Light website has shopping available with entire collections of items ranging from beach towels and dog leashes to coolers and cornhole sets, hats, sweatshirts and ski goggles to golf tee sets and tackleboxes. www.coorslight.com

Gear & Accessories: ENDLESS options exist in this category. All you have to do is Google “beer accessories” and literally 113,000,000 results are at your fingertips. Let’s narrow down a few options. 

Recoil Coolers are unique auto-adjustable beverage coolers made to fit all of your drinks, alcoholic and non, alike. They fit 12oz. regular cans, 12oz. skinny cans, 12oz. glass bottles, 15.5oz. energy drink cans and 16oz. tall boys. No need to have several beverage coolers when you can just use one! In addition, the product is locally made right here in Upstate NY (Oneida) and is completely environmentally conscious by utilizing Hemp plastic as the main component, which reduces overall plastic use by 25%. At $24.99 each and with free shipping, they’re a great option for everyone on your list! www.recoilcoolers.com 

The Beer Bible is an essential and entertaining book for any craft-beer lover from snobs to novices alike, to read, self-educate and keep on their coffee-tables as a conversation piece and quick reference. It comprehensively covers beer styles and varieties, brewing methods, glassware, history and all things beer-culture related. The first edition was published in 2015, but there’s a newer 2nd edition now available, published in 2021. You can find this book available online on Amazon or at Barnes & Noble. In general, books make a great gift, because there are so many different beer-related books out on the market from cookbooks to the book “Goodnight Brew” which is a parody of “Goodnight Moon.”

Glassware is ever popular and whether you’re looking for a pint glass with something unique or silly printed on the outside, or you’re looking for something on the more classy-side, plenty of choices are readily available. Etsy is a great website for distinctive and characterful glassware, and you can find vintage items in addition. 

Otherwise, it’s a good idea to do your homework when picking out glassware for the beer-lover in your life who loves a particular style of beer. For instance, Wild Ales & Sour beers should be served in tulip glasses, Tekus or snifters. The bulb and the flared lip of the glass allows for capturing and holding the aromas of the beer, thus enhancing the flavors of the brew when you drink from it. Shape is everything. The stem of these glasses give you the opportunity to gently swirl the brew to release the aromatics, much like one does with wine. The stem also serves to keep the warmth of one’s hand away from the brew, so that the liquid retains it’s chilled state. There are plenty of online articles and YouTube tutorials out there to help choose the right glassware to gift. 

There are always kitschy options for gifts too – Beer bottle markers in the shape of mustaches that give you a “hairy” upper lip when drinking that make for party fun and great photos for the ‘gram. Ugly sweater beer koozies. Mini table-top beer pong sets. The “Shakoolie,” a suction-cup insulated beer holder for your shower-beer. Personalized and customizable beer-lover bobbleheads. Beer soap. Beeropoly, a beer-drinking board game. Or even a beer holster that attaches to your belt, thus allowing you to free up both your hands for other activities. So many fun choices!

Do-It-Yourself: Is a wonderful option for the creative folks out there who may want to give their gifts a more personal touch. Beer Advent calendars make fun and delightful gifts. To create this, purchase different individual brews at Branching Out Bottle Shop (Camillus, NY), Wegmans, or Green Hills Supermarket – the key here is to have a totally different beer for each day of the calendar. Wrap each bottle or can in festive wrapping paper, adding bows, stickers, glitter, tinsel, etc. – you can really go hog-wild with the holiday spirit here! Mix ‘em all up, then label each wrapped bottle/can with a number and stow them in a box (the free wine boxes with the cardboard bottle separators that you can get at your local liquor stores are great for this!) then gift the box to your beer-lover of choice with directions to open one each day for either the whole month of December (and perhaps something really special for Christmas Day!), each night of Hanukkah (12/18-12/26), 7-days of Kwanzaa (12/26-1/1), or the traditional 12 days of Christmas (12/25-1/5). 

(Tip: you could make an advent calendar with ciders too! Beak and Skiff/1911 Established in Lafayette, NY has single, mix-and-match cans available for purchase of all their hard ciders up at their Tasting Room & Tavern.) 

Gift Cards: Perhaps you’re not big on wrapping an actual gift, or need something quick and easy to throw in a card/envelope to gift to someone. Gift cards are a simple and time-efficient option. It also directly supports local businesses when you obtain them from a local brewery, beer-shop or beer-bar such as The Evergreen or Now & Later.  This also allows the gift card recipient to pick out what they want – especially if you know that someone likes beer, but perhaps you’re not sure what variety of beer that they actually enjoy most. 

To all you Table Hopping readers, have a happy and safe holiday season and see you in 2023! Cheers!

Kristin Merritt
Just your average craft-brew loving gal slinging your monthly pour of beer education and the low-down on all things beer related in the immediate CNY area and beyond. Along the way I hope to give a few recommendations for your grocery list, events to attend, and local hotspots to hit-up for shenanigans with friends, ideas for date night, or at the very least enlighten you with a bit of random knowledge to use towards trivia night or simply give you and your teammates a suggestion on what to drink at the bar! Cheers!