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Tim Bissell Tim Bissell
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Three Pint Stance - Gifts of the beer guy

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Last week in these pages, I said that you should look into gifting a ride on one of the Brewery Tour Buses in Maine for the beer lover in your life. I still stand behind that as being a solid decision, and one you most certainly won’t regret.

That being said, I feel as though I may have too casually discarded the idea of gifting “another pick-six from the local beer store.” In fact, the gift of beer is, was, and always will be the killer app for any beer lover.

So let’s go over some simple-to-follow ground rules when it comes to giving beer as a gift.

Know your audience

Not every beer drinker is created equally. Some people simply love the stuff and don’t care one bit about who made it, how they made it or even how it tastes. Others can be much more discerning about both the style of beer and who made it/where it was made. As with any gift, make sure you know a little about the person you are gifting the beer to, and have an answer for WHY you picked that beer. Shows you put some thought into it and didn’t just get them “some beer because you like beer, right?!”

Quality over quantity

Speaking for myself here, but I feel as though the sentiment may resonate with others, I usually skip over the more expensive brews when simply shopping for my weekly selection at the bottle shop. It’s not that I don’t want to try the pricier products, I usually just can’t justify spending that kind of money on myself. When gifting beer, look into those higher priced beers, or even the single bottle, large format selections. A lot of us beer guys will put off buying these for ourselves, but receiving them as a gift is always a pleasant surprise!

Skip the Growlers/Howlers/Squealers/anything filled from the tap

Local beer is most often the best beer to give as a gift, but make sure you are giving something that can be enjoyed leisurely and not a ticking time bomb. Growlers are filled directly from the tap, meaning there is invariably some oxygen that comes in contact with the beer as it is filling. This oxygen, even small amounts of it, can cause the beer to oxidize (go stale) pretty dang fast, and nobody wants stale beer for Christmas. Cans and Bottles filled from a commercial line are gas purged and are designed to minimize the amount of O2 that comes in contact with the beer, making for a beer that stays fresher longer. Also, Growlers/Howlers etc. need to be refrigerated, and I don’t know of anyone who has a mini fridge under their tree!

Brewery/Bottle Shop Gift Certificates

Still can’t figure out what beer to pick out? Why not punt and just get a gift certificate to your beer-lover’s favorite bottle shop, or to a brewery/beer bar that they frequent. Gift certificates can be a good way to gently force someone hand to try a new place that they haven’t been to yet. Know of a new brewery your beer nerd friend hasn’t been to yet? Hit them with the GC and cover their first visit!

Check the dates!

Remember when I said nobody wants stale beer? I really meant that, and that is why it is important to check the dates on any beer you might be buying for someone else (or for yourself, freshness always matters!). Most beers have date stamped on the bottom that says when it was packaged, but some will put an expiration date. Regardless, my general rule is to never buy an IPA that is over two months old, four to five months on other lighter styles and six months on anything that isn’t over 10 percent alcohol/sour. Higher alcohol beers are usually designed to age gracefully, so those can be exempt from the date rules. Oh, and cold beer stays fresher longer, so always shop from the cooler before looking at the warm shelf!

So that’s it. Five long-winded but fairly easy to follow guidelines for buying beer for the beer person in your life!

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