It’s December, which means you should probably start thinking about what to get people for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Saturnalia or whatever other holiday celebration.
Chances are, every family or friend group has at least one person who’s a little obsessive over craft beer. But we all know, unfortunately, that craft beer lovers can sometimes be too persnickety for their own good.
Fellow columnist Daniel Hartis wrote last week about how beer nerds should take a step back, turn down the snobbery and be thankful that this state is home to so much excellent beer. I thoroughly agree.
Thankfully not all craft beer lovers are so picky, but some are. And that’s a tricky prospect – how do you shop for someone when what to get them seems so obvious yet also so easy to get wrong?
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The answer is simple: Don’t get beer. Get something beer-related. Unlike a six pack, these presents have staying power and broad appeal.
Now, maybe you are confident in your taste and think I’m being silly. Fine. Pick out a six pack.
But at least have a backup plan. Choose beers with a cool design or funny name. That way even if the beer is bad, the recipient can at least Instagram the label. And what is Christmas really about, if not using social media to show off your loot?
But also keep in mind that non-beer presents also include people who are under 21. Are you 19 and want to seem cool to your 24-year-old cousin? Pay attention. Do you have a 7-year-old who swears that Daddy will love a Blu-ray box set of the “Toy Story” franchise? Maybe suggest one of these gifts instead.
There’s a new book out, “The Beer Bible,” that would be a good gift for anyone from novice to expert.
Author Jeff Alworth traveled the world documenting different styles of beer and their history, ingredients, flavors and more. It’s a fascinating read for your buddy who only drinks styles of beers that were invented within the last decade, as well as for your friend who thinks Blue Moon is a craft beer.
Alworth includes a handful of North Carolina breweries that people with some state pride will be eager to read about, as well.
Cost: $10-$25 for a digital download, paperback or hardback.
Find it: Amazon, bookstores, etc.
For the more visual learners out there (and anyone who wants to buy me a present, ahem) there’s a really cool map that was just released that shows the North Carolina beer scene in more detail than seems possible.
The Great NC Beer Map, from EDIA Maps, includes all 181 breweries across the state along with several dozen major beer festivals. Details range from hours of operation to whether a place is pet-friendly, if there’s food on-site, when special releases are rolled out and info on tours.
The map also includes detailed views of the downtown brewery scenes in Raleigh, Charlotte and Asheville.
Cost: $10 for a foldable map, $30 for a poster
Find it: ediamaps.com/shop
The holidays are a time when people should be especially nice to the veterans in their family and friend groups. They might have spent past holidays in some godforsaken jungle or desert, and they deserve a beer now that they’re home.
Several breweries in North Carolina are run by vets, so consider taking your vet on a trip to one. Fainting Goat Brewing, a new brewery in Fuquay-Varina, is the only one in the Triangle.
Not too far away, Moore County has two in Railhouse Brewery and Southern Pines Brewing. Treat your veteran to a round of golf and a brewery tour. Go drinking before golfing if you also want to give the gift of an excuse for a bad game.
Finally, there’s Beer Army. It’s a North Carolina charity whose purpose is to promote craft brewing and to fund college scholarships. It was founded by a Marine in memory of a friend killed in Iraq. Donate and get some Beer Army swag to give out, ranging from bullet-shaped bottle openers to patches, T-shirts and festival passes.
Cost: Monthly pledges range from $2.50 to $1,000
Find it: beerarmy.org
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran
Raleigh Beer Garden sets 2 world records
The Raleigh Beer Garden has been officially recognized by Guinness World Records as the record holder in two categories.
The Raleigh taproom has the most varieties of beer on draft tap in the world, and also has the most beer brands (or breweries) on draft tap in the world.
“It’s an honor to be able to highlight the amazing craft beer scene in North Carolina within our establishment and look forward to seeing everyone from around the world come visit us,” said owner Niall Hanley, who also owns the Hibernian pubs and The Station, in a news release.
The beer garden is 614 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh.
Info: 919-324-3415, theraleighbeergarden.com