Looking for gift-worthy bottles of beer
December 22, 2013 6:55 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to pick up a couple nice beers to put under the tree for my partner. I don't drink much beer myself, so while I know what he likes enough to pick out everyday-drinkin' stuff for him, I don't know what's currently available that might be nice (new, seasonal, unusual, somewhat difficult-to-find) enough for a gift. Any ideas? Helpful details below the fold.

Relevant details:

-He likes hoppy beers
-He likes sour beers
-Beers that included added flavors--like chocolate or coconut--haven't gone over well in the past...
-...but he does tend to like beers made with cherry (there's a bottle of Three Philosophers in the fridge right now)
-He has a reliable source for Pliny the Elder so he gets it often enough that it's not special enough to gift
-Sam Adams Utopias is right out (been there, done that)

I live in the SF Bay Area and have access to a wealth of stores that carry the good stuff. Price is (mostly) no object. I appreciate any and all suggestions!
posted by rhiannonstone to Food & Drink (30 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
If you can find a bottle of Deschutes' Dissident, that would make for a phenomenal gift for a Sour.
posted by CrystalDave at 6:58 PM on December 22, 2013


Are you in SF proper? Head over to City Beer and buy what they say.
posted by mollymayhem at 7:03 PM on December 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is general, but I think a bottle of something cellar-able makes a nice gift. Even better if it's a 1.5l or 3l bottle. The beer store can help you out with this.
posted by ftm at 7:03 PM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


For sours: Look for stuff by The Bruery. I really dig their Oude Tart (one of their sours with cherry I'm pretty sure). It should be available at a fancy beer store. I think it'll cost you $20/750 ml bottle.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 7:07 PM on December 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh hey, it turns out Oude Tart with cherries is something special and maybe not easy to find. Plain old Oude Tart is good too.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 7:11 PM on December 22, 2013


A 750ml of Cantillon: the Saint Lamvinus is a rare one, and very much a keeper, but the Kriek is pretty special.
posted by holgate at 7:12 PM on December 22, 2013


As an avid beer drinker, I think what makes a good special occasion beer is something bigger and bolder than you would normally drink.

I think Delirium Tremens and Delirium Nocturn are good choices for special-occasion beers, are widely available, and have interesting bottles.

If Pliny the Elder is a favorite, you could look for other Imperial or Double IPAs. In the years since Pliny the Elder came out, these beers have made huge leaps in both IBUs (international bitterness units, a measure of "hoppiness") and alcohol content. Heretic makes a hop-monster called Evil Cousin that you might be able to find near you.

Stone also does this reliably: Special Edition, Ruination. These are good, solid beers that I would be happy to see under the tree (ditto Arrogant Bastard), although they may be in his regular rotation. Also Dogfish Head - they have 60, 90 and 120 minute IPAs. The former two I can get at my local grocery store. The latter is harder to find. All are terrific (or so I assume - I haven't actually had the 120).
posted by jeoc at 7:20 PM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


A friend recently was enrolled in a beer of the month club by his parents. Everyone in the universe is jealous of him, and rightfully so.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:21 PM on December 22, 2013


For sour: Rodenbach Vintage 2009.

Because it's under a tree: Samichlaus.

Ales Unlimited should have both.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:31 PM on December 22, 2013


anchor christmas!
posted by lester at 7:46 PM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


2nding Lindeman's Kriek: it's a sour cherry beer that should be right in his wheelhouse.
posted by charlemangy at 8:01 PM on December 22, 2013


jeoc: " (or so I assume - I haven't actually had the 120)."

You're unlikely to get the 120 on short notice; on the off chance you see it - anywhere and at any time - get it. It will be appreciated.
posted by notsnot at 8:11 PM on December 22, 2013


They're not the most hoppy, but are IPA's and an incredibly fun thing to do is to buy bottles of Mikkeller's really tasty single hop series. They brew the same recipe over and over again, only replacing the hops, so you can really pick apart their character. If said partner is nerdy about beer, this is quite fun.

(It may have been a fluke, but the bottle of Simcoe was...awful...nearly undrinkable...so gross...It may be worth staying away).
posted by furnace.heart at 8:12 PM on December 22, 2013


So, I'm an American craft beer fan living in Australia, and there's some really incredible work being done in New Zealand right now that fits what you're looking for and gives him a look into a craft beer scene he might not be familiar with.

I found this place called Ales Unlimited in San Francisco, under an assumption that's where you might be. On that list from that link, right at the top, are a bunch of beers from 8 Wired in NZ. While the Hopwired absolutely fits your big and hoppy requirement, I'd put a vote in for the Bumaye stout, which is aged in pinot noir barrels and is the most incredible stout I've had this year.

They also have stuff from Renaissance, another terrific NZ brewer. If you see anything by NZ brewers called Epic or Yeastie Boys (or, for the love of god, Garage Project, which I can't assume has grown big enough to go to North America yet), these are all high-quality brewers.

There's lots of great American and Canadian stuff on there too. My recent favourite US beers to land on Aussie shores have been coming from Clown Shoes from Ipswich, Mass. Their Blaecorn Unidragon stout makes me happy.
posted by GamblingBlues at 8:20 PM on December 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Lindemans Gueuze would fit the bill. Like all lambics, it's wild fermented (like sourdough), but unlike most it isn't adulterated with fruit, so its yeasty complexity is readily appreciated.
posted by STFUDonnie at 8:54 PM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


do you know what a growler is? in oregon where they're legal, it's a big refillable beer jug hopefully containing fine microbrew, and they're eventually coming to california (discussions underway in lege). a voucher for SF's first legal growler takes up as much room as a folded dollar bill. second choice is what the anchor guy above said.
posted by bruce at 9:09 PM on December 22, 2013


Great suggestions so far, thank you! We've had the Kriek--even I liked it--and it's definitely already on my list to look for.

Please keep 'em coming!

(bruce, growlers seem to be legal in California already. At least, we certainly purchased quite a few from Russian River and Bear Republic on our last trip to Sonoma! I was going to buy him a nice generic growler, actually, until I discovered that many breweries won't fill growlers you didn't buy from them.)
posted by rhiannonstone at 9:14 PM on December 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


i am pleased to hear this rhiannonstone, my native state is slowly catching up to my adoptive state. is there a business opportunity here for an omnigrowler, a standardized receptacle with a magnetic strip embedded in the glass, which (for a modest fee) can be flashed so that the brewery will refill it? this would be an interesting exercise in the economics of nascent forms. i would buy more growlers myself except i live alone with a cat and the cat doesn't drink beer, and i will reiterate my support for america's first and best microbrew, ANCHOR STEAM!
posted by bruce at 9:44 PM on December 22, 2013


I like Terrible.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 11:30 PM on December 22, 2013


I am a huge fan of Abita Andygator. It's tastes like autumn in a bottle.
posted by vegartanipla at 11:38 PM on December 22, 2013


Estrella Damm Inedit. Bet you don't drink just one.
posted by Alex Voyd at 12:34 AM on December 23, 2013


If you could find it I am sure he would appreciate a Heady Topper from The Alchemist, but they don't sell as wide as CA and they even sell out in VT in a day after a delivery. Someone was buster for selling some cases on craigslist so the availability might have gone down.
posted by koolkat at 3:58 AM on December 23, 2013


I really liked Delirium Noel - as a bonus it's got adorable elephants in Santa hats on the label. Another good one I just tried was Corsendonk Christmas Ale.
posted by wheek wheek wheek at 5:00 AM on December 23, 2013


If he likes Ommegang, try to find their Wild at Heart. It is a new limited release made with only wild yeasts. A little sour, funky, and generally a top notch beer in the Ommegang style.
posted by soy_renfield at 5:51 AM on December 23, 2013


Lindemans is nowhere near cantillon in the realm of lambics. I would avoid lindemans. I doubt its authenticity. It is however readily available.

Cantillon is excellent, but is so limited production & popular its unlikely you will ever see it for sale. If you do find any, everything I've had is very good.

Seconding the reccomendation for getting advice from a knowledgeable beer specialty store. There are so many craft beers around now that its hard to find anything reliably unless its very common.

An extra possibility (although I dont know cali liquor laws) is to get a growler(64oz jug) of something draft only. It only lasts up to a week unopened and needs to be finished once opened.
posted by TheAdamist at 6:11 AM on December 23, 2013


Yeah, I was about to chime in to nix Lindemans. It's not real lambic - rather than brewed with fruit, fruit flavor is added later. It's enjoyable enough but once you have the complexity of a real sour it's rather cloying and one-note.

Seconding the Bruery, Ommegang, Mikkeller, Cantillon if you can find it.

Supplication by Russian River Brewing Company is a wild sour ale with cherries that is EXCELLENT. If you have a source for Pliny (same brewers), maybe you can find it? Honestly all of the barrel-aged RR beers I've tried are great.
posted by misskaz at 7:11 AM on December 23, 2013


If you're looking for Cantillion, both Jane's Beer (downtown Mountain View) and Santa Clara Liquors (Santa Clara, near the university) have had a few in stock over the last several weeks.
posted by komlord at 8:58 AM on December 23, 2013


I don't know if they range out that far, but Santa Fe Brewing's Kickin' Chicken is their Chicken Killer malt wine aged in bourbon barrels for smoothness. It's a bit sour, very strong, and very nice.
posted by qbject at 9:58 AM on December 23, 2013


For sours you should look for Cascade Brewing Company

And Logsdon Organic Farmhouse Ales

For both hoppy beers and sours check out Russian River.
posted by Packy_1962 at 10:05 AM on December 23, 2013


The correct answer is just go to City Beer in SOMA and buy whatever they say. If you're in the east bay and don't want to trek across the bridge, go to Beer Revolution - they have a pretty great bottle selection as well.
posted by bradbane at 10:23 AM on December 23, 2013


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