Beer Gift Guide 2012

The season of giving is now fully upon us. Since you’re reading this, you probably like to drink beer. Perhaps you should consider sending this story to the gift-buyer in your life who might be pondering what to get you this year. Otherwise, peruse the list below and start dropping hints.

Let’s face it, you can put too much thought into these things. Beer itself is a great gift. Picking up a mixed case of 22-ounce bottles at the local bottleshop is never a bad idea. These days, some bottleshops double as growler-filling stations. Places like 99 Bottles and The Beer Junction (both blog sponsors) offer gift certificates and growler fills, which is a nice gift-giving option. But in case you find that a bit too predictable, below I present some other gift ideas for beer lovers.

Hydro Flask Growler

$50 online or offline


It is sad that some people seem content to fill any dirty old jug with tasty, fresh beer. Those who truly appreciate the quality of the beer are more discerning and recognized that a clean, top-quality growler is an essential tool for any real beer lover. The Hydro Flask Growler’s asking price might seem steep, but when you consider that you typically pay at least $10 each time you fill a growler, think of this an investment in beer quality.

The Hydro Flask growler is a vacuum insulated, stainless steel growler with an extra wide mouth for easy, efficient filling. The insulating factor is not perfect, but the Hydro Flask Growler does a far better job of keeping the beer cold than a standard glass jug. In anything but extreme circumstances, the beer will stay cold for hours. Easy to clean and easy to fill, I have yet to find a better growler design. Most reviewers agree. Some of our local breweries are now branding the Hydro Flask. For example, Boundary Bay Brewing and Iron Horse Brewing both offer logo-emblazoned versions. You’ll need to call around to find out who has them in stock, or you can order one from Hydroflask or any of a number of online retailers.

Road Dog’s Seattle Brewery Tour

$79 and up

Beer touring is an increasingly popular activity around the Pacific Northwest. Road Dog’s Seattle Brewery Tour offers a safe, fun and informative way to do it. Each three-hour tour includes transportation, three brewery stops, and plenty of beer samples. Participants also receive a souvenir pint glass and a T-shirt. There are different tour options available. The basic “Join In” tour costs $79 per person. If you really want to hit a homerun, consider booking a private tour package, which can accommodate up to 14 people, for $575. Contact the folks at Road Dog’s Seattle Brewery Tour to find out about all of the tour and pricing options.

Uber Car Service

Price Varies, You Decide

Beer festivals are fun. Sometimes, maybe, beer festivals are too much fun. We all like to have a good time, but we all need to be smart and safe. Nothing makes a beer festival (or any alcohol-inspired outing) more fun than the assurance that you have a safe ride home.

Uber is a town car service that you can order up as needed from your smart phone. Using the Uber app, order your car and even see how long your ride will take to arrive. It’s like a fancy taxicab that you can book on demand. What’s best for you, Mr. or Mrs. Giftbuyer, Uber is now offering gift certificates. Uber’s services the general Seattle and Eastside areas. West of Lake Sammamish, north of Kent, south of Lynnwood. Visit the website for more details about service options and rates. To buy a gift certificate, visit Consider combining this with tickets to an upcoming beer festival.

WABL Membership


It is possible for a person to be a WABL and not even know it. Make it official. Buy the beer lover in your life a membership to Washington Beer Lovers (WABL). Operated by the Washington Beer Commission, WABL is the official Washington beer fan club. A number of rewards accompany a WABL membership. For your gifting purposes, each member gets an exclusive WABL T-shirt and a WABL passport.

At most of the Washington Beer Commission’s beer festivals, WABL members get a special (larger) tasting glass, a few extra tokens, and access to a WABL-only beer. Beyond that, each month WABL members receive invitations to special, exclusive events at breweries, brewpubs, tasting rooms and other businesses that support Washington beer. Each November, WABL members are invited to a special, exclusive party where they get to try some rare, never-before-released beers. And there’s more. Basically, for the price of a T-shirt you get a whole lot of perks. For local beer lovers, and especially those who attend beer festivals, this is the best deal in town. Consider combining this with tickets to an upcoming beer festival. You can order a WABL membership as a gift online.

Beer Festival Tickets
$25 – $35

You’ll have to make up your own gift certificate and promise to buy tickets as soon as they become available. You can always count on the Washington Beer Commission’s festivals. See our previous post about upcoming wintertime beer festivals. Other annual festivals include Belgianfest (February), Washington Cask Fest (March), Washington Brewers Festival (June), Bremerton Summer Beer Festival (July), Everett Craft Beer Fest (August), Spokane Oktoberfest (September). These are just a few suggestions. There are a lot of beer festivals in the Pacific Northwest.

The Oxford Companion to Beer
$39.00 on Amazon

Your know-it-all boyfriend only thinks he understands the history of IPA. He probably doesn’t. Your smarty-pants girlfriend might imagine herself really smart about beer, but the recently published  Oxford Companion to Beer will set her straight. For the hardcore beer geek in your life, it will provide countless hours of educational reading with over 800 pages of intense beer information.

The book’s 1,400-and-something entries were edited by Garrett Oliver, Brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewing, who is widely recognized as a rockstar brewer and leading beer scholar. According to the book’s Foreword, which was written by celebrity chef Tom Calicchio, “The Oxford Companion to Beer provides an exhaustive account of not only beer’s history but its science and its art.”

We did a post about the Oxford Companion to Beer back in October 2011. Read it here. Available at Amazon or check with the local book store. I bought my copy at the Book Larder in Fremont.

Growler on Board
$29.99 online

It’s all about safety. A growler full of beer is a dangerous thing to have rolling around the back seat of your car. The Growler on Board Beer Transportation Unit is produced by a local, Seattle-area company. It’s pretty new, hasn’t been on the market for long, is available from just a few retail outlets and only recently became available online, so your beer-loving hubby will probably be the first kid on the block to have one.

After a tragic accident that cost us a one growler of beer and one hour of work cleaning it up, we have now equipped the Washington Beer Cruiser with a Growler on Board. We love it. Why wouldn’t we? We did a post about it. Read it here.

Go to the Growler on Board website to find a retail location or order one online.

$350 – $1,700

You probably already know if your significant other wants one of these. Likely, it has been a topic of conversation. I won’t waste time discussing the virtues of in-home kegerators, or the marital  distress I’ve seen them cause, instead I will just offer some advice. Get a good one. There is a reason why prices vary so drastically. Some of the less expensive models that I’ve seen are actually pretty good while others are nothing but trash.

Truth is, about $500 will get you a decent kegerator. A really good one from a commercial manufacturer like Beverage Air will set you back $1,000 or more. It’s money well spent. Shop around. Don’t get a cheap one just because it’s cheap. Try to get the best one your money will buy.

If you really want to go big, consider getting the stainless steel Viking Professional Series freestanding beverage dispenser. Woof! Expect to pay $1,700 plus shipping unless you can find one locally.

Tap Cleaning Kit
$40 – $75
It is a sad fact of life. It is the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about. People don’t clean their lines as often as they should. A lot of bars don’t even do a responsible job of cleaning the beer lines. Your kegerator-loving hubby, buddy or sibling should be cleaning their lines about once every 1/2 barrel. It can be a pain in the butt, I know, but there are kits out there designed to make it easy. has a number of different kits available. I bought mine at Larry’s Brewing Supply in Kent.

Home Brewing Starter Kit
$ 100 – ?

In drag racing there’s a saying: speed costs money, how fast do you want to go? The same is true with homebrew equipment. Sure, it’s not that expensive if you focus on the essentials of what is really needed to get brewing, and you can vacillate between the ease of extract brewing and the virtues of all-grain brewing, but in the end it’s really about how much you want to spend.

You can get into a starter kit for under $100 but how long will that satisfy your brewing Jones? Shop around if you want, or just head straight to Larry’s Brewing Supply in Kent and listen to their advice. Recognize what you’re getting yourself into. In brewing there is a saying: “Give someone a beer and they will drink for 20 minutes. Buy someone a homebrew starter kit and they’ll end up building a nano-brewery in the backyard.”

SABCO Brew-Magic V350MS

Go big or go home. Dare to dream. The first time I saw one of these systems was when I visited Ancient Lakes Brewing in Quincy, WA. It is hard to tell whether this is a very small commercial brewing system or a homebrewing system on steroids. I’d call it a pilot brewing system – capable of brewing small, test batches of beer for commercial breweries. Whatever the heck it is, the SABCO Brew-Magic system is very cool.

There are way too many features and details to mention here. Like I said, go big or go home.

Check it out on the SABCO website.

San Juan Brew Cruise
$800 – $900 per person

Each year the Schooner Zodiac schedules two beer-themed cruises. Usually, each cruise lasts four days. The 160-foot windjammer Schooner Zodiac sets sail for adventures in the scenic waters of Puget Sound, San Juan and Gulf Islands from March through November. This is a big boat: the main mast is over twelve stories high. It is the largest working mainsail on the north coast. The Schooner Zodiac is a living, working piece of maritime history.

The Schooner Zodiac does a summer brewery cruise and also an Oktoberfest cruise. Check with the website, but details usually are not announced until after the first of the year.


  1. The big question is can the Hydro Flask be filled using the growler filling machines like they have at 99 Bottles. If it can’t, it’s a non starter for people like me.

  2. Unless I am mistaken, no. The Hydro Flask cannot be used with the Pegas Craft Tap growler filling device. However, as far as I know, 99 Bottles and The Beer Junction are the only places in the state that have those. You should be fine filling the Hydro Flask at any of the other 1400 places in the state that fill growlers.

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