Wondering what to give the craft beer geek in your life this Christmas? Worry not. Here’s your guide to Chicago’s best craft beer gifts and holiday events.
Christmas Craft Beer Gifts
Chicago’s history is deeply intertwined with its beer. In Chicago by the Pint: A Craft Beer History of the Windy City, author Denese Neu tells the story of the greatest city in the world through the beer goggles of your favorite local brewpubs.
If you think the craft beer geek in your life is an encyclopedia of beer knowledge, think again. This year, Garrett Oliver, brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewery, author of critically acclaimed The Brewmaster’s Table, and all-around craft beer all star, edited and released The Oxford Companion to Beer, a 900+ page tome representing the best current expert knowledge about the history, culture, and science of beer. (Image via theomskirkbaron.com)
The best craft beer periodical out there is DRAFT Magazine. Each issue is visually compelling and full of top-notch beer writing. A one-year subscription is $20. Two years for $30.
So much of what makes Chicago beer culture great is the community that brews it, sells it, and drinks it. Sometimes these folks get organized and do great things together. The Chicago Beer Society holds monthly homebrew tastings at Goose Island’s Clybourn brewpub and social gatherings at Map Room. They also put on some of the city’s best annual craft beer and homebrew events, some of which are exclusive to members. Annual membership is $25.
The Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, the professional organization representing breweries in the state, has a membership organization for craft beer enthusiasts called IMBIBE. The group gets early or exclusive access to events, an insider’s monthly newsletter, and swag like hats and t-shirts. Annual membership is $30.
Drop in at a local brewpub or tasting room and put together a gift package with a t-shirt, empty growler, and a gift certificate to fill it up. Check out Haymarket, Revolution, Goose Island Clybourn or Wrigleyville, Piece, or Half Acre.
Is the beer geek in your life also a homebrewer? Gift certificates to Brew & Grow, Brew Camp, and Northern Brewer are sure to please. A membership to the American Homebrewers Association includes a subscription to Zymurgy magazine and discounts at local brewpubs (like 20% off beer and food at Goose Island brewpubs) and homebrew shops (10% at Brew & Grow).
Holiday Beer Events
If standing in line for Black Friday deals didn’t satiate your limited-supply shopping thirst, head over to Half Acre on December 18 for the release of Big Hugs Imperial Stout. It’s a 10% monster brewed with Dark Matter coffee.
Haymarket is hosting a family-friendly buffet lunch with Santa on December 18. On Christmas Eve, Haymarket celebrates its first anniversary with special tappings. They open at 4 PM on Christmas day for Bulls and Bears games. Check their events page for details.
Drinking & Writing Brewery’s Christmas production, A Beer Carol, tells the story of the penny-pinching macro-brewery owner Bud Miller and his harrowing visits from the ghosts of the four ingredients of beer. This live radio drama is sharp, witty, and full of hilarious live sound effects and beer geek humor. There’s only one performance left in Chicago this holiday season, on December 22 at Marion Street Cheese Market in Oak Park for $15. If you can’t make it then, check out upcoming performances of their high-energy “To Cure a Hangover” starting in January.
If drinking good beer is enough to make you break into song, check out the Christmas Carol Karaoke Party at Piece on December 22. The event benefits PAWS Chicago.
Got another holiday craft beer gift or event tip? Drop us a comment below or tweet at @chitownontap #craftbeerchristmas