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2017 Gift Guide for the Craft Beer Drinker

BUYING holiday beer for your craft beer-loving friend or family member can be tough and frustrating. If they have been focused on craft beer for any amount of time they probably have every type of glass, growler and bottle opener out there.

Sure you can go grab a mixed six-pack and call it a day, but many beer drinkers like to check off every beer they can get their hands on and may have already tasted everything on local shelves.

How can you know if they have had a particular beer? If your beer aficionado is anything like the guys around Brew/Drink/Run, then buying beer is really hard unless you can get your hands on one of the craft beer whales.

This list focuses on gifts for those of us who want to do something more than make a random mixed-six.

Stocking Stuffers: Go Local

Every beer drinker has their favorite brewery. I’ll wager yours even has a favorite local brewery. Let them wear their love for local beer by picking up a gift from one. T-shirts and pint glasses are always appreciated and let craft beer lovers show their pride in local beer. All four of Savannah’s breweries — Southbound, Service, Moon River and Coastal Empire — have several options for any desired style. Whatever the preference, remember supporting local is good for your economy and your brewery.

Still want to buy beer and not gear? Then pick up a gift card from White Whale, Largo or one of the Habersham Beverage branches.

For the Home Brewer or Wannabe Home Brewer:

Many beer lovers would love to take the plunge into brewing their own beer. Usually the only thing holding them back is the initial investment in equipment. There are many affordable kits available with varying amounts of equipment. Stay local and purchase your kit from the Savannah Homebrew Shoppe.

For the experienced home brewer I suggest the Catalyst Fermentation System. This system makes transferring beer and clean up a breeze. It also allows for the collection of yeast so your homebrewer can reuse yeast or even culture their own.

For the "Beer Collector"

Your craft beer drinker may have tried all of the local shelf beers, but that doesn’t mean that, with a little work, you can’t track down some new beers for your craft beer “collector” to try.

There are several craft beer membership options out there but one of the more interesting ones is the Rare Beer Club.

Each month the tasting panel at the Rare Beer Club chooses two beers that are both highly rated and difficult for your average drinker to find. These could include foreign beers, barrel-aged beers, one-offs or anniversary beers. At least one of each of these beers are then shipped to your beer drinker. There are three levels of subscription to choose from, one bottle of each beer, two of each or three of each.

The Rare Beer Club is not cheap; the plans start at $50 with shipping, but your beer collector will likely find a bottle of beer they have never had on their front porch each month.

The Big Gift

The tenth edition of Sam Adams Utopias! Occasionally Sam Adams brews up a beer so high in ABV and intense in flavor that it’s illegal to sell it in some states. Georgia included. 2017 is one of those years.

Utopias starts off as a regular beer, a mixture of hops and malts, but that’s where things take a turn. After brewing, a mixture of yeasts is added to beef up the ABV to the point where most yeasts can’t take the ABV and die.

Then Sam Adams adds a final “ninja yeast” that can handle that amount of alcohol to further push the ABV up to 28%. This beer is then aged in a variety of bourbon, carcavelos and port barrels.

This year they added aquavit barrels to the list. Aquavit is a Scandanavian spirit brewed with spices like dill and caraway. After aging the brewers blend these beers together along with some previously brewed Utopias vintages: a twenty-four-year-old triple bock and seventeen-year-old Millennium. The resulting mixture is then distributed to hand-numbered ceramic vessels.

Utopias is served warm, un-carbonated and in small doses. It tastes like sherry or a strong port, so it’s a big deviation from what most beer drinkers consider beer. At around $200 a bottle it’s not for everyone but is certainly a conversation starter and fine addition to the beer cellar.