The holidays are officially upon us, though one could easily be forgiven for thinking they’ve been upon us since mid-September. Some of us put off buying gifts until only a couple of days are left and then make up for our procrastination by doing our part to ensure the continued success of the overnight shipping industry. But if you like to get an early start, you may already be shopping for friends, family, and loved ones.
For the homebrewers on your list, here are five ideas for gifts that usually cost less than $100. If you shop around, you may even find them for considerably less.
1. Stir plate
To brew the best beer possible, yeast propagation really needs to be part of the equation. To that end, many of us rig up makeshift stir plates from old computer fans, magnets, cell phone chargers, and several rolls of duct tape. But a purpose-made stir plate is an affordable luxury that any hobby brewer would love to have. Look for a model that can handle 2 liters, which is the maximum size that most of us usually make. Larger plates can handle larger volumes, but of course, they come with a larger price tag. And don’t forget the stir bar!
Refractometers let brewers measure wort specific gravity using a very small sample, and most feature automatic temperature compensation (ATC). All-grain brewers in particular will enjoy the convenience of being able to take gravity readings throughout the runoff. In addition to ATC, look for a model that displays results in both Brix and specific gravity (SG). Consider throwing in a bottle of distilled water in case your brewer is eager to calibrate his or her new toy straight away.
3. Mash paddle
A sturdy wooden or stainless steel mash paddle will cut through the thickest of grists and just feels right in your hands. Generally speaking, good mash paddles don’t have lots of features to watch out for, but some can be customized with your brewer’s initials or a decorative, beer-themed emblem.
4. Fancy growler
Gone are the days when transporting your kegged homebrew automatically meant filling up a standard-issue glass growler from the neighborhood pub (and trying to find a cap!). Now you can find stainless steel vacuum flasks, mini-kegs, and even growlers that accept a small carbon dioxide charger and dispense beer draft-style.
5. Digital temperature controller
Good temperature control improves the quality of any brew and is essential for making lagers. Give your brewer the gift of predictability with a digital controller. This plugs right into a standard wall outlet and features a probe to measure the temperature of fermenting beer. It then turns an old refrigerator or chest freezer on or off to maintain the desired temperature.
This is but a small smattering of ideas for gifts that any homebrewer would be thrilled to receive this holiday season. And remember, if you like craft beer, giving a piece of gear to an enthusiastic homebrewer means that your investment will come back to you in the form of delicious homebrew for years and years to come.
Give a friend a beer, and (s)he will drink for a day, but if you give a friend one of the fantastic homebrewing and beer-related gifts in the Craft Beer & Brewing Gift Guide, (s)he will be your drinking buddy for a lifetime. Check it out today!