The GDB Holiday Gift Guide: Beer Books, Gadgets, Study Guides And More

In Beer News by Karl

Here’s our list of beer-centric gifts that we’d be happy to see show up in our stockings. Indulge your favorite brewing aficionado with some of these:

Cyber Monday has come and gone. Black Friday? Barely even remember it happening. And yet, you haven’t gotten anything for the beer lover (or at least appreciate-er) in your household.

Well hot damn, are you lucky to have us in your corner.

We’ve pieced together a few thoughts on what we’d love to see show up in our stockings in a few days. None of this is too outlandishly expensive (no crazy $600 Picobrew machines here) and you’ll definitely get some use out of it.

Here it is: the Guys Drinking Beer Holiday Gift Guide.

Disclaimer: You should probably expect this at this point, but many of these links (not all) point back to Amazon, of which we are an affiliate member. Purchases from these links will help us keep the lights on around here. Don’t see anything you like on this page? Check out our store, where we’ve curated a variety of other options you might find handy.

Steve’s Picks:

ReGrained Supergrain Granola Bar ($26.28)


These granola bars have been on my “gotta try” list since I read about them in Beer Advocate magazine. Two California homebrewers, wondering what to do with their spent grain, ultimately started “ReGrained”- granola bars made with grains from nearby breweries like 21st Amendment.

Beer Cap Maps ($33.99)

I got a Michigan version as a Christmas gift last year and while it makes for a fun garage décor, I’ve been surprised by how long it’s taken me to fill all the slots with unique brewery caps. Maybe it’s because I’m trying to fill the Lower and Upper Peninsulas.

(Editor’s note: You can also get an Illinois beer cap map here. Sorry, we couldn’t find a Chicago one.) 

The Brewers Association’s Guide to Starting Your Own Brewery (from $22.34):

This gift is for that family member (or friend) who just doesn’t shut up with the second-guessing of what a brewery is doing wrong, what they should be doing and what he’d do if he were in charge.

OK, smart guy, start reading about all that goes into it.

Karl’s Picks:

Beer Lover’s Chicago: (The City’s) Best Breweries, Brewpubs and Beer Bars ($19.95 retail, often lower)

The best overview of the city’s brewing landscape ever written (by me)!

Look, I’ve been flogging my book for weeks now but I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least suggest it one more time as an option for the beer fan in your life. It’s got stories covering everything from Alarmist to Zumbier and many other breweries in between.

As I told one really drunk woman at the release party at The Green Lady, the Q&As with Michael Roper (the Hopleaf) and John Hall (Goose Island’s founder) alone are worth the price of admission.

That drunk woman then slurred at me that I wasn’t selling it to her well enough, she didn’t think her cousin would like it, and then spilled (and broke) her glass of prosecco on the bar. Your loss, lady.

The Cicerone Organization’s Flash Cards ($14.95) and Beer Flavor Map ($15.95)

If you’re going for your Certified Beer Server or Certified Cicerone ranking, these beer style flash cards really are the perfect study guide for the exams. Not surprising, since they also wrote the exam, but it stands to reason they’re going to give you the tools to learn what you need to know.

They’re easy to throw in a bag or backpack to pull out and quiz yourself on at any time of the day, be it on a commute, in an elevator, waiting in line, etc. and it’s way more satisfying than poking through the BJCP app or printing out hundreds of pages of tasting notes.

The Beer Flavor Map is a great way to immedately up your Untappd and BeerAdvocate rating game — it’s got descriptors for all types of beer ingredients from the smokiest malts to the craziest hops. Even I don’t tend to have all of this vocabulary on hand when it comes to explaining what I’m tasting, and I’ve been doing this for about a decade at this point.

FYI: mine arrived folded but I would recommend you order it flat — you will probably want to throw this into a frame and keep it on the wall by your favorite beer-drinking chair (you do have a favorite beer-drinking chair, right?) for a much classier note-taking and beer-flavor-writing visual aid.

The Beermiscuous Field Guide (from $14.95):

Right now you may be thinking, “What the hell is this guy doing, promoting a book that’s extremely similar to his own book — the one that he just suggested a few paragraphs ago?” Well, yes, that’s true, it might seem a bit odd but I’m more interested in making sure that you’ve got the best access to Chicago area brewery information as possible.

If that means you pick up the Beermiscuous book, great — it’s got tons of great info, a fun layout, area for you to write in your own notes about your own visit — and I’m more than a little jealous of their ability to include a “just missed breweries” section.

Between the two of us, we’ve got as much info accumulated as you could reasonable ask for. You really should get them both.

Jelly Belly Draft Beer Jelly Beans ($6.99 for a 3.5oz bag):

Just kidding, I thought these things were pretty gross. Although maybe you know a beer fan that you don’t particularly like…

Save Your Bottlecaps: The GrabOpener ($16)

I used to have a pretty extensive collection of bottlecaps, in that I kept pretty much every cap I ever opened. I had visions of turning them all into some sort of bartop whenever I got a garage or a barn or a basement to build one. Eventually I got frustrated and tired of moving multiple 1-gallon ziploc bags full of old bottlecaps from apartment to apartment and pitched them all, largely because I realized that a bunch of janky, bent-up bottlecaps wouldn’t look very good.

So I went on a hunt for a bottle opener that wouldn’t ruin your caps and save them from harm (perhaps for storing in a Beer Cap Map) I couldn’t find many great options — but I like the look of this one.

The shortened name — The GrOpener — isn’t going to do it many favors in current society, but for a one-handed bottle opener that won’t ruin your caps, it looks like the best choice of a limited lot.

Or just cut up a bourbon barrel stave, drive a nail into it and use that. Seems to work also (but I don’t have a link for that).


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About the Author



Karl has written about food, travel and beer for Chicago Magazine, Draft Magazine, Thrillist, Time Out Chicago and more. His book, Beer Lovers Chicago, is now available via Amazon and other booksellers.If you're buying, he's likely having a porter or a pale ale.

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