It’s that most wonderful time of the year again. A time when I put together a list of Christmas gifts for craft beer lovers. This is the fourth such list I’ve concocted as your Beer Muse, and I continue to find thoughtfully crafted local fare to please a wide range of beer lovers.
As with every year, I feel it my duty to encourage you to buy a starter homebrewing kit from Maine Brewing Supply in Portland for that friend curious about the art of zymurgy. You never know, your gift may just give birth to the next big name in Maine brewing.
Here are five gifts sure to slake any beer lover’s Christmas desires.
$6.75 to $12.50, homebrewedsoaps.com
Looking for that perfect stocking stuffer? Grab soaps and beard oils from Home Brewed Soaps. The Rockland soap company uses homebrewed beer, as well as beer from local breweries, to make their body soaps, shaving soaps, shampoos and beard oils. For years, I’ve been shaving with Home Brewed Soaps’ shaving soap made with Rising Tide beer. Not only is the novelty of shaving with beer soap enjoyable, it’s also really good soap. It offers a buttery lather that doesn’t irritate the skin and rinses clean with no oily residue. There’s a range of invigorating scents like Cedar & Ale, Peppermint Stout, Clove & Ale and New England IPA.
$20 to $36, oakstreetpottery.com
As soon as one of these handcrafted beer mugs caught my eye, I knew I needed one. Each mug is thrown in Jennifer Gammon’s cozy studio in Lewiston and features a striking all caps “BEER” imprint. The mugs are given a shimmering bronze glaze, though they are available in other colors if ordered through the website. There is also the option to have your mug customized. They are available in 12-ounce, 16-ounce and 24-ounce sizes — and you know I went with the 24-ouncer. Since these mugs are hand-thrown, each one is a unique piece of art and a great vessel for tippling some local suds.
The brainchild of an Italian brewer and an Italian sensory analysis expert, the TeKu glass was born in 2006. Crafted to be the world’s greatest beer tasting glass, the TeKu glass truly does take beer drinking to new sensory levels, accentuating any beer’s aroma, flavor and even appearance. TeKu glasses are elegantly shaped with a delicate stem and an angular bowl. This glass is the perfect gift for the hard-to-please beer snob. Locally, Lone Pine Brewing, Oxbow Brewing and the Bier Cellar sell TeKu glassware emblazoned with their respective logos.
This book is a veritable encyclopedia for beer lovers. Whenever I’m writing my column, trying a new beer style or just sitting around the house, I reach for The Beer Bible. I was a bit skeptical about the title at first (Beer Bible, huh?), but this book lives up to its lofty moniker. Broken into categories based on beer styles, The Beer Bible is a wealth of knowledge filled with well-researched historical notes, brewing techniques and beer reviews, all with an inviting writing style that will keep you turning its pages. I’ve thumbed through a lot of beer books, and this one is the most comprehensive that’s come my way.
As I’ve noted in past gift lists, brewery tours with The Maine Brew Bus are a great gift for beer lovers looking to dig into the Southern Maine brewing scene. If you want to give the gift of exploring the burgeoning brewing scene in the Bangor area, purchase a Maine Growler Bus gift card. Maine’s northern metropolis is swimming in great beer brewed by some of Maine’s best breweries, including Orono Brewing, Marsh Island Brewing, Geaghan Brothers Brewing and Mason’s Brewing. The Maine Growler Bus drives patrons to local tasting rooms for sampling, tours and general shenanigans.
OTHER BEER HAPPENINGS
Bunker Brewery Darkwave Chili for Charity Cook-Off
6 to 9 p.m., Friday, 17 Westfield St Unit D, Portland. $10 per ticket. On Facebook
Like a good chili, this event has the perfect ingredients for a great Friday night: good beer and steaming bowls of chili, all in the name of charity. Five local restaurants and five “civilians” (as they’re called on the event page) go head to head in this chili-off. The $10 fee allows patrons to sample the chili and vote on their favorite batch. Bunker’s lineup of crisp lagers and ales will nicely compliment the rich flavors of each chili on this fall evening.