“How do I buy beer for my son/daughter/husband/cousin for Christmas? She/he loves craft beer.”
It’s the most popular question I get in my email every December. The rest of the year the most popular question is, “Where can I buy helium beer?” The answer: You can’t. Please stop asking. Read here to find out why. #ScroogeMoment
Back to giving beer as a gift . . .
If craft beer is foreign to you, don’t worry. We asked some super beer geeks (a.k.a. brewery employees) for their advice. Here are seven great tips to help you shop stress free.
1) Lean on Expert Advice at Your Local Beer Store
Skip shopping at the grocery store or big box stores and head to a smaller mom and pop beer store. You’ll get one-on-one advice from employees at your local beer store that’ll help guide you.
Grant Pauly from 3 Sheeps Brewing in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, tells me he’s “gotten some really bad beer” from people who were trying to make a good impression on him. “They typically reach for a name they know, not realizing that in the craft beer world, those generally are not the beers we get excited about. I would recommend they ask someone that works in the store. Hopefully, with a couple of questions, they can at least recommend a couple of interesting brews,” Grant explains.
2) Find Out Which Beer Styles They Like
“For gifting for beer, first and foremost I ask them if they know what kind of beers that they normally drink or like. That way I can steer them away from any beers that the giftee would not be happy to get,” Kelly says. “I usually recommend they get a variety of beers to try from our brewery. I usually go for a mix of our regular flagships and a few of our seasonal beers. I give them what they would like — the beer they normally drink — then I always throw in a few that might fit their beer profile to get them to try something new.”
3) Buy Local
If there’s one thing that excites craft beer lovers, it’s trying something new. Even if it’s not a style they’d regularly choose, people who love beer love new beers.
“Go for something that’s near to you to make it more interesting and special,” says Jon Mansfield from War Horse Brewing in Geneva, New York.
Use the CraftBeer.com Brewery Finder to find breweries nearby.
4) Gift Cards aren’t Cop Outs
Gift cards to breweries and beer stores won’t sit around picking up lint in a dresser drawer — we promise. A gift card will be gone faster than the cookies you’re leaving for Santa.
5) Do a Merch & Beer Combo
“Another great idea is giving them something else to go with the actual beer,” Kelly Hanseth says. “Pick a hat, t-shirt, or pint glass to go along with the beer so that they have something that lasts longer than just the beer.”
6) Keep it Fresh
Speaking of lasting longer, if you’re buying beer as a gift, make sure it hasn’t been sitting on the shelf since last Christmas. While some styles age better than others, breweries release beer when it’s ready to drink, and gambling on old beer is a losing bet.
“It stinks getting good beer that’s too old or has been mishandled. Either check for dates on the package or go for a winter seasonal,” Jon Mansfield explains. Good advice.
7) Go Big
Higher prices can sometimes signal a special release that your beer lover can’t buy year-round. As Mansfield also points out, even beer with bigger price tags is relatively affordable when you compare it to liquor, a popular stocking stuffer.
“There’s a good chance the most expensive, exclusive, high-end beer in the joint is like, $25, compared to wine or whiskey. It’s a budget-friendly way to ball out,” he says.
If you’re still not sure which beer gift you want to give, our poll below could give you clues into what most beer lovers want. Happy hunting!
This article originally appeared on craftbeer.com