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Gift ideas for a beer lover

Christmas is just a few weeks away and I thought it might be a good idea to put up a few gift ideas for the beer lover out there. There are  thousands of different products out there to suit any beer lover. My suggestions are from things that I own, use, and drink. I know the economy is puttering along right now, so all of these suggestions come in at under $30.00, which should suit almost any budget. So lets get started.

#1:  Beer a Day calendar

12-06-01What beer way to celebrate beer than to look at a new beer everyday. Not only does it let you learn about a new beer, but it gives tasting notes, some food pairings, and a random beer fact. I had one of these last year and it put a few ideas in my head on beers that I wanted to try and styles that I wanted to homebrew. And do you want to know the best part? This daily giver of joy can be found on Amazon for under $12 bucks. That should make your wallet smile a bit

#2 Beer of the Month Club

I was briefly a member of a Beer of the Month Club at one point last year. The main reason I stopped was becasue I was moving and it got a tad bit pricey. Most BotM Clubs give you the choice of how many months you want to join for and how many bottle you receive. Most of them send out about 12 bottles a month, but there are those who give you a full case each month. The nice thing is that all of the clubs focus on mircobrews (probably becasue they run out of macros). They start at around $20.00 a month and move up from there. Some also allow you to go month to month while others make you get a subscription. In either case, just do a bit of researching to see what fits into your budget.

#3 Mr. Beer Kit

12-06-02On of the first articles I ever did on this site was about my Mr. Beer experiences. Mr. Beer is perfect for the beginning homebrewer. It allows you to get an idea about the processes involved in making beer and gives you a sample of what can be done. Mr. Beer makes making beer very simple and allows for a lot of variety. I really enjoyed making beer with these kits. At one point my roommate and I owned four of them and we were pumping our 2.5 gallons of beer every half week to week. Needless to say we had a lot of friends.

Mr. Beer is having a sale for the holiday season where you can get the whole deluxe kit for $29.95. The kit includes bottles, fermentor, sanitizer, and a ingredient kit to make your first batch. Not a bad deal and if you decide you don’t like homebrewing, you didn’t drop a lot of money on something you are not going to use. Check it out here.

#4 Spiegelau Beer Glasses

12-06-03Every beer drinker should have a proper glass to drink out of. I recently received my first pair of Spiegelau glasses courtesy of the Beer Tap TV and I don’t think that I will ever drink out of another glass again. They are sure thin and they give you a more accurate idea of what the color of the beer is. The idea behind it is that the thicker the glass, the more distortion that it causes when looking at the beer. They also have a nice wide top to let you get your whole face in there to smell a beer. This is the same company who makes those nifty Sam Adams glasses. You know the ones that make their beer better becasue of the glass design. Who knows if that is true, but it is a good story and a really cool looking glass. You can get a set of two for $19.59 from here.

#5 Any Michael Jackson book

12-06-04Any beer lover should own a book by Michael Jackson. Not the King of Pop, but the King of Beer. While Mr. Jackson has moved on, his books provide a powerful reminder of his love and passion for great beer. He is widely credited with being the first journalists to write about beer and helped open a whole generation to the great beers of the world. Michael Jackson’s Great Beer Guide and Ultimate Beer are two of my favorite from him, and both are coming in at under $20.00 right now.

I highly suggest both books and I be you will find a ton of beers that you did not know about, but now want to try. I know that I did.

I’ll be posting a homebrewer gift idea post very soon, so check back. And just as a shameless plug, you might want to think about Beer Tasting Notes that was made by the same people who bring you this website. It helps fund this site and will also help you keep track of your beers.

2 gallons of badness

As I’ve noted I got my start to homebrewing with Mr. Beer. That got old pretty quick as all of the beers had the same after taste and there wasn’t a ton of useful things you could do with Mr. Beer. I’ve seen people make a ton of different “styles” with Mr. Beer, and I don’t know how they turned out, but to me it seemed like a weak attempt at homebrewing.

So one day during the summer, I decided to upgrade everything and start formulating my own recipies a bit more. I went down to the homebrew shop and bought most of the basic brewing equipment, including two 2 gallon buckets. I talked to the guy at the store and told him I wanted to make a simple American Lager. He loaded me up with yeast, hops, speciality grains, and 4 pounds of dry malt extract (DME). This all for a 2 gallon batch.

I didn’t really have a good sense of what I was doing, but I went for it anyway. I now know better. 4 pounds of DME for 2 gallons of beer is way, way, way too much. I’ll explain later. I did the normal procedure, let it ferment in my basement for 4 weeks, and then bottled it.

A week or so went by for carboniation and then I tried it. The stuff was terrible. The beer was so unbelievely full of alachol that the hyrdometer couldn’t give a reading. There was just too much sugar for such a small batch. Usually, I tend to use about 7-8 pounds of DME for a typical 5 gallon extract brew. I had half of the amount of that for less than half of the total liquid. The flavor was a strong carmel and the smell was just aweful. I do have a bit of the stuff laying around just to see if I could get a real ABV reading on it one of these days. When I do, I will let you know.

The point of this is, understand what you are getting into. Don’t solely rely on other peoples opinions when brewing, do what works for you. I didn’t do enough research and listened to someone who didn’t have as good of an idea of homebrewing as I thought they did. My result was an undrinkable beer. The only positive thing I took away from this was that I had good sanitation and learned some technique.

My intro to homebrew: Mr. Beer

As I have said in previous posts, my homebrew experiences started with Mr. Beer. Two of my roommates came back to the apartment one day with a new toy to play with, a Mr. Beer kit. They got the deluxe one with the bottles and one kit of ingredients. Being college kids, it was great, we could pay $12 or so for a case of beer, about 2.5 gallons. They tore it open and began “brewing.”

I wasn’t involved in the process becasue I had to work that day, lucky me. I came home, the kitchen was a wreck, but the Mr. Beer container had soon to be beer in it. Two weeks later they bottled and a week after that, we were ready to drink.

Holy shit, the stuff was terrible. Either the sanitation was not followed or something just went wrong, in either case, I was turned off. They made a few other batches that were better, but still not great. Also note at this time my beer taste buds were young, so it could of actually been some good brew (but I don’t think it was). (more…)

A little background

If you haven’t read the About Us page yet, I suggest you go on over and start that. If you have, and want to know more, then here is the post for you. My name is Nate and I am the tech/internet savy person who started this site, Pete was an afterthought. I got my inception to beer a couple of years ago and haven’t grown tired of the stuff yet. I’ve enjoyed making trips out to different bars, breweries, and 6-pack stores trying to sample as much as I can. And no, I’m not the snobby beer drinking who asks of little sample glasses and leaves when I’m at the bar (you know who you are).

I drink my beers fully by the glass, 6-pack, or case. I love drinking beer, but I have also gotten into homebrewing. This site will be a mix of beer reviews, homebrew, and beer culture. I’ve been homebrewing for two and a half years or so, mostly on the Mr. Beer setup. This last summer I finally converted over and got the 7.5 gal plastic buckets and all of the other necessary things. I’ve made everything, good and bad, from stouts, lagers, IPAs, Red Ales, and even a cider. I am getting ready to make my jump into all grain. So with that, my introduction is done. Think what you may, but I’m having a great time trying new stuff and creating some concoctions of my own.