Beer Town: Holiday gifts for beer lovers

If you're looking for gifts for beer lovers, Georgia breweries are a good place to start. Here, co-founder and brewer Josh Miller is behind the bar at the Outrun Brewing taproom in Stone Mountain. Bob Townsend for the AJC

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If you're looking for gifts for beer lovers, Georgia breweries are a good place to start. Here, co-founder and brewer Josh Miller is behind the bar at the Outrun Brewing taproom in Stone Mountain. Bob Townsend for the AJC

The holidays are upon us, again, and that means it’s time for the annual Beer Town Gifts for Beer Lovers.

As always, I like to point out that beer lovers love beer. And every year, I recommend giving your beer lovers something special from one of the Georgia craft breweries near you.

In 2020, the year of the pandemic, that may be a bit more difficult. But most taprooms are welcoming visitors, while observing safety protocols. And breweries that opened during the pandemic will be even more grateful for any increased sales, right now.

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Some of the new breweries and taprooms that debuted late last year or early this year include: Bold Monk Brewing on the Upper Westside; Dr. Scofflaw’s Laboratory and Beer Garden at the Works; Elsewhere Brewing in Grant Park; Fire Maker Brewing on the Westside; Outrun Brewing in Stone Mountain; Stillfire Brewing in Suwanee; and Three Taverns Imaginarium at Atlanta Dairies.

Beer books are always a big part of my holiday gift list. Here are four to consider, plus one to pre-order.

A perfect fit for my current lager fixation, Pilsner: How the Beer of Kings Changed the Worldby Tom Acitelli (Chicago Review Press, $19.99) is a surprisingly entertaining history that claims to be “a character-driven narrative that shows how pilsner influenced everything from modern-day advertising and marketing to today’s craft beer movement.” In large part, it delivers on that promise.

Beer: Taste the Evolution in 50 Stylesby Natalya Watson (Kyle Books, $19.99) is both scholarly and fun, as each chapter “focuses on one of beer’s key ingredients — malt, water, hops and yeast — sharing how, as each ingredient modernized over time, new flavors and styles emerged.” The back of the book includes ways to learn more, with suggested books to read and breweries to visit.

Historical Brewing Techniques: The Lost Art of Farmhouse Brewing by Lars Marius Garshol (Brewers Publications, $24.95) is an important and thrilling document of the northern European roots of beer, combining history, cultural anthropology, and social science to rediscover and explain “brewing and fermentation techniques that are vastly different from modern craft brewing.”

Whiskey Master Class: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Scotch, Bourbon, Rye, and More by Lew Bryson (Harvard Common Press, $26.99) isn’t a beer book per se. But Bryson is a longtime beer writer, who also happens to be a whiskey expert, and he shares “everything he’s learned on his journey through the worlds of bourbon, Scotch, rye, Japanese whiskey, and more.”

Though the publication date has been moved to next year, you can preorder The Dogfish Head Book: 25 Years of Off-Centered Adventures by Sam Calagione, Mariah Calagione and Andrew C. Greeley — a sure-to-be fascinating and irreverent read that shares the founder’s “hard-earned insights and helps readers navigate life’s adventures.”

Scouting through some other lists of gifts for beer lovers, I found two more ideas I can easily endorse.

Good beer deserves good glassware, and Spiegelau makes some of the best glassware you can buy. The four-piece Craft Beer Tasting Kit (around $36 online) includes its famously curvy IPA glass, also available individually ($10.95) from Crate & Barrel.

Growlers are a good way to grab fresh beer from your favorite brewery, and bringing your own seems like a pandemic kind of thing to do. Deluxe versions include the Black Handmade Ceramic Growler With Loop ($57) from Kaufmann Mercantile, and the GrowlerWerks Copper uKeg Carbonated Growler ($159 online).

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