A gift guide for the beer lover
Wondering what to get your beer-loving friend for the holidays this year?
You could, of course, get them beer. But there are plenty of options that would still pique their interest. Whether it’s a historic brewery tour, a good book or an elegant bottle of rare brew to share, there’s a little something for everyone on your gift list. Read Toronto-based author Stephen Beaumont has put together The Beer and Food Companion, a smart, elegant and practical look at how to pair beer with food ($37.99, Jacqui Small Press) . . . Who says comics can’t be informative? The Comic Book Story of Beer ($21, 10 Speed Press), certainly fits the bill, giving a broad historical overview of beer, from Mesopotamian farmers to modern North American craft brewers . . . James Watt, founder of edgy Scottish brewery BrewDog, gives his personal take on business success in the modern craft-brewing industry, in Business for Punks ($33.95, Portfolio). Though there’s a fair bit of self-aggrandizement, it’s still an interesting look inside one of the most controversial craft breweries in the world. Learn Have a beer-loving friend who wants to learn a bit more about their favourite beverage? Are they frustrated at not knowing their stouts from their pale ales? There are a couple of ways to help. The Prudhomme program, run by former Labatt sales staffer Roger Mittag, has been around since 2009 and offers several different levels of beer education, both online and in a classroom setting. Sign up at tfkbeer.com . . . Chicago-based beer educator Ray Daniels has a similar program, with local classes offered in Toronto by graduates of his Cicerone school.
Some components can also be taken online at cicerone.org. Tour Want to get a peek at Toronto’s brewing history?
Take a trip with Oliver Dawson’s Old Toronto Beer Tour, which takes you across the city to breweries both new and old.
Among the places you’ll visit on the tour are Corktown, which boasts several no-longer-functioning “ghost breweries,” the Canada Maltings grain silos and several breweries that are still running. Among them? Am- sterdam’s new location in Leaside and Mill Street’s Distillery District brew pub. Price for the tour, available at beerloverstour.com, is $129, including lunch. Sip Yes, beer will also do nicely as a gift for the beer lover. Of all the winter special offerings at the LCBO this year, the most intriguing comes from Chicago. Goose Island Brewing, which was taken over by brewing behemoth AB-InBev in 2011, has sent up a few hundred bottles of a special edition of its Bourbon County Stout. This version, highly praised by beer aficionados, is aged in barrels that formerly held American rye, and hit with a hefty dose of fresh vanilla beans. Checking in at a rather robust 13.3 per cent alcohol, it’s a decadent, rich, bittersweet end-of-meal treat. Those bottles? They’re all being sold Friday at the LCBO’s Summerhill location for $34.95 a pop.
If you can’t get your hands on that Goose Island treat, don’t fret. Some other swoon-worthy brews you can pick up for holiday gifts are available in bigger quantities, including Belgium’s St. Bernardus Christmas Ale ($9.95) and Toronto’s own Mill Street Barley Wine ($13.95).