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Gift Ideas for Craft Beer Lovers

For some, the act of drinking beer rises above “what you do on a Friday night” and is a full on hobby. These beer drinkers often read about beer online, frequent sites like Beer Advocate and RateBeer, have the Untappd app on their phones to track the beers they drink, and most importantly, make a habit out of finding and trying new beers to drink whenever possible.

Some of these craft lovers engage in beer collecting and trading (just like Baseball or Pokemon cards, except beer doesn’t last forever) and even beer tourism, travelling anywhere with a significant beer scene or at least checking out the local breweries whenever they’re out of town.

If these habits and words sound familiar, you’re buying for a Craft Beer Lover. Believe it or not, there are definite subsets within Craft Beer Lover, and each would likely prefer a different type of gift. Here are some more details to help you figure out which type of Craft Beer Lover you’re buying for.

Gift Ideas for IPA-Only Beer Lovers

You likely already know if your favorite beer drinker only drinks IPAs, as it’s the only beer they talk about. They only order IPAs (or Imperial, DIPA, and ESB variations) at bars and restaurants.

Much of the appeal of IPAs comes from intense bitterness and showcasing different types of hops, which impart different flavors to the beer. IPA drinkers tend follow a predictable continuum during their IPA discovery: find a few favorite IPAs, seek out more unusual IPAs that are more bitter or offer different secondary flavors, and then look for the highest IBUs available and stick with that.

Gift Ideas for Explorers & Adventurers

Many craft beer lovers enjoy discovering new beers just as much as they enjoy drinking them. They have a curious palate and jump on new beer trends, so they’re quick to order something they’ve never heard of just to check it out. They try new breweries and styles all the time, so last month’s favorite has probably already been replaced with a new hot brewery or beer, or a seasonal beer made in small batches and only available for a short time.

These are brewer’s favorite beer drinkers because they appreciate that beer is about more than one style, more than one kind of beer drinker, and they give the brewer’s license to experiment (brewers are really just mad scientists who drink their creations).

Gift Ideas for Local Beer Enthusiasts

You may be familiar with a movement which encourages folks to buy local (locally-made goods are good for the local economy and jobs), eat local (farm-to-table restaurants source ingredients from within 100 miles of where they’re located), and drink local (this applies to both wineries and breweries).

For some beer drinkers, their local brewpub is the most important “third place” (an urban designer’s word for somewhere that’s not home or work) and they are fiercely loyal to the beer produced in their neck of the woods. These are perhaps the most specific type of beer drinkers and when you buy a gift for this type of beer drinker you need to keep their locavorism in mind.

Gift Ideas for Homebrewers

Like most other hobbies, there are enthusiasts and there are do-it-yourselfers. Homebrewers are the do-it-yourselfers of the beer world, and they come in many assorted flavors. Some things they all have in common are: an insatiable need to know the process of how each beer is made and what ingredients go into each beer, time on their hands which allows them to make beer, and a need to show off their creations (there are festivals and contests for homebrewers all across America… not unlike Chili Cook-offs).

We think homebrewers roughly fit into three subcategories: Newbies and Wannabes, Beer Geeks who brew for themselves, and Aspiring Brewmasters who want to share their homemade masterpieces with everyone they know. Here’s a bit more about of each of them to help guide your gift-giving.

Gift Ideas for Homebrewer Newbies & Wannabes

Maybe your beer lover is a homebrew wannabe… they’re knowledgable about beer and would like to make their own, but have some legitimate concerns that prevent them from getting started. These might be a perceived lack of brewing ingredient and equipment knowledge, lack of space, lack of time, lack of access to proper supplies, or any combination therein. Fortunately for these folks there is a whole world of “getting started in homebrewing” out there, including equipment kits, recipe kits, space-savers, and even a machine that does everything for you.

For those who have already made the leap into homebrewing — maybe they’ve produced a batch (or two or ten) — there is practically unlimited need for more homebrew stuff, whether it’s better or more equipment, more creative supplies, ways to store their creations, or even just inspiration. Depending on how sophisticated your homebrewer is, it’s possible they’ve even been converted into a total beer geek (we’re sorry to inform you, the condition is incurable).

Gift Ideas for Homebrew Beer Geeks

Imagine a mashup of Dr. Frankenstein (mad scientist) and a craft beer lover, where instead of creating monsters and making them come alive, your favorite homebrewer is contemplating the ingredients for the wort, picking yeast for its fermentation abilities, figuring out which beers are going in the kegerator, etc.

Yeah, we didn’t follow along with much of that either, but that’s the point. Geeks are on their own level and they need a beer gift suitable to all that geekery. In general we don’t advise buying beer or beermaking equipment for beer geeks, instead we recommend ways to help them acquire more beer knowledge and gift cards so they can go buy what they need. While gift cards are often a gift of last resort, they are the best gift you can give a beer geek homebrewer.

Gift Ideas for Aspiring Brewmasters

Some home brewers are a little less geeky about the whole homebrewing business. It’s a hobby, it’s fun, it gives them a chance to show off something they made from scratch and get positive feedback (hopefully) from their friends and family. These folks are more likely to enter homebrew competitions, name and bottle their creations, and bring them out into the world. Sometimes they host beer parties where they load up two or three kegs with their own creations. They love beer, love to talk about beer, love to make beer, and want the world to know it.

Gift Ideas for Lovers of the Other Beers

So, if they’re not a Homebrewer, and they’re not a Craft Beer Lover… what are they? Well, if you’re still planning to buy them a beer gift, odds are good their preferred drink is beer, they like to socialize with beer, they stock up on beer for home, and they probably even have a favorite beer that isn’t necessarily a craft beer.

According to the Brewers Association, a craft brewer is a small, independent, and traditional brewery. Since their definition of small includes up to 6 million barrels of beer produced each year, you might find it hard to tell which beers are actually craft beers and which are just regular beers, and you would be in good company. Here are a couple of different types of Lovers of Other Beers to help narrow your gift search.

Gift Ideas for "Has a Favorite" Beer Lovers

Many, many beer drinkers have a favorite, a go-to, a beer they prefer above all others. Some make a lifelong commitment to such beers, and others just don’t want to be bothered with thinking about which beer they’re going to drink.

If it's not a craft beer, it's something the industry calls an Import or a Domestic beer. Here are some examples of breweries and beers that we’ve seen have a tendency to engender that sort of permanent allegiance: Heineken, Bud Light, Coors, Corona, Sam Adams, Anchor Steam, Sierra Nevada, Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR), Michelob Ultra, Ballast Point, Blue Moon, Fat Tire (New Belgium), Stone (Arrogant Bastard and IPA), Guinness, Chimay, and Duvel. If you’ve seen something in this list that your favorite beer lover has proposed marriage to, we’ve got perfect beer gifts for you.

Gift Ideas for "Doesn't Have a Favorite" Beer Lovers

We have a soft spot for these beer drinkers that will drink whatever’s around because, quite simply, they like beer. All of it. They’re easy to shop for, they’re not picky so anything you get them will be more than they expected, and we’re pretty sure most of the beer paraphernalia available for purchase caters to these beer drinkers. Your best bet when buying for these lovable, flexible beer drinkers is to stick with your own budget and pay attention to when the gift needs to arrive.