Jingle Brews: Our Picks for Craft Gifts

We usually reserve our most thoughtful gestures for the holidays, and if you have a craft brew lover on your list, we’ve done the thinking for you; all you have to worry about is the gesture (sneaking it under the tree). But have you ever given a gift that you later wished you’d kept for […]

We usually reserve our most thoughtful gestures for the holidays, and if you have a craft brew lover on your list, we’ve done the thinking for you; all you have to worry about is the gesture (sneaking it under the tree). But have you ever given a gift that you later wished you’d kept for yourself? You just might feel that way after giving these away.

Of course, knowing that ahead of time, you could probably sneak a couple gift sets under the tree, if you really tried. And you could probably sample a few, you know, if you really wanted to, for research purposes.

(Which is a good idea in any case because quantities are limited, and once they’re gone, someone else is enjoying them.)

Ommegang Game of Thrones

Brewery: Ommegang Brewery

Location: Cooperstown, NY

Winter is Here

Coming in at 8.3% ABV, this Belgian-style double white ale is brewed with pilsner malt, white wheat malt, and soft red wheat flakes. It’s hopped with Saaz hops and spiced with white pepper, sea salt, coriander and sweet orange peel. Winter is Here pours a hazy pale straw color with a stark white head. Aromas of banana, clove, and pronounced peppery phenols lead, and the flavor is slightly sweet malt, subtly balanced by hints of sea salt. Despite a full mouthfeel and healthy ABV, it still manages to drink quite lightly. The finish gradually builds in a warming crescendo of peppery spice.

Fire and Blood

Fire and Blood is the third beer in the Game of Thrones series, originally released in spring of 2014. It’s brewed with pilsner, spelt, rye, and other specialty malts, hopped with Styrian Golding and German Tettnang hops, and spiced with ancho chilies for additional complexity. The hue is deep, dark red with a persistent, creamy, off-white head. The aromas of ripe fruit, raisins, slight spice and malt mix nicely with a slight floral, spicy hop character. The flavor of sweet malt gives way to faint dryness and is balanced by spicy rye and hop flavors with underlying raisin and prune notes. The finish offers balanced malt and spicy characteristics from hops and rye. Fire and Blood is 6.8% ABV, and the label art features one of the original three labels, a fiery image of Daenerys Targaryen’s dragon, Drogon.

Rochester Mills 12 Days of Milkshake Stout

Despite its name, Milkshake Stout is not thick like a milkshake or overly sweet. It pours creamy, rich and dark. The combination of four different malts, along with a low hop level, creates a deep dark beer featuring rich, sweet roasted flavors. The addition of lactose (milk sugar) adds complexity, body, and a residual sweetness, lending a smooth creamy texture. Once a seasonal offering in the pub, Milkshake Stout is now Rochester Mills’ most popular beer, and now you can enjoy (or let someone else enjoy!) a 16-oz can of each of these varieties:

  1. Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake Stout
  2. Imperial Milkshake Stout
  3. Santa’s Breath (Peppermint Milkshake Stout)
  4. Chocolate Cheesecake Milkshake Stout
  5. German Chocolate Cake Milkshake Stout
  6. Nutcracker Milkshake Stout (Hazelnut) – Throwback to year one, first time packaged in cans
  7. Chocolate Raspberry Milkshake Stout*
  8. Strawberry Milkshake Stout*
  9. Carrot Cake Milkshake Stout*
  10. Spicy Mayan Milkshake Stout*
  11. Holiday Cheer Milkshake Stout* (Cherry Cranberry)
  12. Christmas Roast Milkshake Stout* (Barrel Aged with Detroit Bold Coffee)

*New for 2017.

Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout)

Brewery: Founders Brewing Company

Location: Grand Rapids, MI

KBS is an imperial stout brewed with massive amounts of coffee and chocolate, then cave-aged in oak bourbon barrels under the city of Grand Rapids. KBS ages for an entire year to make sure the wonderful bourbon undertones come through in the finish.
KBS is full-bodied, smooth, and black as night. In addition to the perfect touch of bourbon that slowly fades into coffee and chocolate, you’ll also detect a hint of vanilla, some smoke and toastiness. Gift sets include a bottle of KBS 2016 and a bottle of KBS 2017 with two snifters.

Pilsner Urquell

Brewery: Pilsner Urquell Brewery

Location: Plzeň, Czech Republic

In 1842, in the small Czech town of Plzeň (English: “Pilsen”), a brewery owned by the townspeople created the first batch of a bottom-fermented beer that would eventually inspire nearly two-thirds of the beers brewed around the world. The pilsner style beer is familiar today, but in 1842, no one had seen or tasted anything like it.

Nearly 175 years later, it’s still brewed with the same recipe. Made with Saaz noble hops, Plzeň soft water, and coming in at 4.4% ABV and 39 IBU’s, it’s delightfully light and drinkable, right down to the clean and pleasantly bitter finish. In fact, Pilsner Urquell is something of a yardstick against which other pilsners are measured, making it a deliciously unique gift idea. And we think the metal lunchbox-style gift box is pretty cool, too.

Stella Artois

Brewery: Artois Brewery

Location: Leuven, Belgium

It all began at the Den Hoorn brewery in the Belgian city of Leuven in 1366. (The ‘horn’ in Den Hoorn still appears in the Stella logo.) In 1717, Master Brewer Sebastian Artois purchased the brewery and changed its name to Artois. Originally brewed as a special Christmas beer christened “Stella” (Latin for “star,” as in the Star of Bethlehem), it became so popular that it was made available year round. But as enjoyable as it is any day of the year, it will always be regarded as an especially fitting gift for the holidays.

Nine Steps to the Perfect Stella

With over 600 years of brewing expertise in every chalice, Stella Artois deserves to be poured perfectly. Their Nine Step Pouring Ritual is a beautiful dance between the chalice and the draught master, to deliver exquisite flavor with a tempting allure.

  1. The Purification: The trademark Stella Artois chalice is specifically designed to release the flavor and aroma of the beer. The purification step starts out by rinsing the chalice under cold, high pressured water to allow the glass to reach the chilled beer temperature.
  2. The Sacrifice: So called because you want to allow the first burst of beer and foam from the tap to go down the drain as this will cause a heady beer if you don’t. This sacrifice shouldn’t be more than about 1oz of beer.
  3. Liquid Alchemy: Once the first burst of beer is sacrificed, the Stella chalice is then placed into the stream of beer, held at a 45-degree angle. This angle will ensure that the proper proportion of foam to liquid as the chalice fills.
  4. The Crown (Head): The chalice is then lowered and/or straightened as the pour proceeds to ensure just the right amount of head. The amount of head on the beer is important as this acts as a barrier between the air and the beer, as contact with the air will cause the beer to start losing flavor.
  5. The Removal: When the exact amount of beer has been allowed to enter the chalice, the tap is quickly closed and the chalice moved away. Any droplets that may be hanging or dripping out of the tap after it’s closed should be avoided. The droplets of beer coming out of the tap after it’s closed are hitting the air and immediately oxidizing, and you don’t want these to ruin our perfect Stella pour.
  6. The Beheading: While the head is flowing over the edge of the glass, cut it gently with a skimmer on a 45-degree angle, thus eliminating the larger bubbles which are easier to burst and cause the head to dissipate.
  7. The Judgment: The proper amount of foam amounts to about two fingers thick or approximately 1.2 inches. This perfect amount of head acts as a barrier, preventing your Stella Artois from getting stale.
  8. The Cleansing: The bottom and sides of the glass are then rinsed so that the chalice is clean to hold.
  9. The Bestowal: And lastly, your Stella Artois is ready to serve to your guests.

Short’s Super Hoppy Holidays 12 Pack

Brewery: Short’s Brewing Company

Location: Bellaire, MI

Since Short’s Brewery opened its pub doors in 2004, it’s been brewing bold, flavorful and creative beers that people would travel out of the way to get, including the six super hoppy varieties included in this year’s Super Hoppy Holidays Package.

  1. Aww Jeah (10.4% ABV, 95 IBU) is a Double American India Pale Ale with a dark orange hue and big hop aromas. Sweet malt collides with an array of hop flavors ranging from sticky fruit to pine. Aww Jeah shifts towards a finish that is sharp and bitter.
  2. Batch 5000 (14.6% ABV, 75 IBU) is a big-bodied, Triple American India Pale Ale with a sizable palate-coating sweetness. Delicious flavors and aromas of pineapple and orange are complemented by an awesome piney hop bitterness that leads into a warming finish.
  3. Hellacious Rock (8.7% ABV, 70 IBU) is a Double American India Pale Ale with bold floral hop aromas of citrus peel and pine. A sizable malt sweetness allows for a balanced presentation of abundant hop flavors, most notably those of sharp grapefruit and fruity berries. The finish is mostly clean with a perfect resiny bitterness that lingers but doesn’t overwhelm the palate.
  4. Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster (10.2% ABV, 88 IBU) is a double Belgian IPA brewed with Australian Galaxy hops. The nose is an impressive dank blend of citrus aromas reminiscent of guava and lemons, very green and fresh with subtle Belgian yeast esters. An intense clean bitterness dominates the flavor profile with little malt character to compete with. A slight, fruity yeast sweetness is noticeable in the finish alongside a resounding bitterness.
  5. Slurm Lord (7.7% ABV, 17 IBU) is a double New England style India Pale Ale brewed with oats and a blend of Citra, Azacca, Amarillo, Galaxy, and Mosaic hops. Slurm Lord employs the largest dry hop to date in Short’s history. Deep orange in color with a permanent haze and a minimal head, a glass of Slurm Lord resembles a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. Aromas of dank passion fruit, mango, and pineapple are accompanied by bold flavors of citrus. This medium-bodied India Pale Ale is incredibly juicy from start to finish. A final sip leads into a slight, warming bitterness.
  6. Stache Bender (10.4% ABV, 77 IBU) is a bright orange Double American India Pale Ale with explosive aromas of tangerine, pineapple, and grapefruit. The taste is a celebration of citrus hop flavors and fruit zest. Citrus flavors fuse with a slight malty sweetness before a building bitterness resonates into a dry and warming finish.

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