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Getting your friend or loved one the perfect gift can be a challenge, especially when that person has a hobby that requires special knowledge. If a person’s hobby is craft beer, the idea of buying them a gift can be daunting. There are over 100 breweries and brewpubs in San Diego alone – how are you supposed to know which one they like?

Don’t worry, Stay Hungry SD has got you covered! We’ve put together this handy guide to help you buy the perfect gift.

Special Release Beer

It’s great to get your craft beer loving friend some beer as a gift, but not any beer will do. You can’t simply go to your local grocery store and pick up something randomly off the shelf and expect to impress. If you’re giving beer, it’s best to pick it up directly from the brewery itself, and it’s best to get something the brewery has only in limited quantity. The limited quantity is really the key element.

When it comes to special releases your best bet is to check the Instagram feeds of a few breweries to see if they have an upcoming release. Releases are usually on Saturdays for most breweries around San Diego, and the beer is usually first-come-first-serve, so it’s best to get to the brewery right when they open. Some of our favorite breweries offering a bunch of limited releases this year include the following:

  • Mikkeller (Instagram) – These guys are making delicious beer these days, and issuing a special release every single Saturday in 2017, which makes gift giving a breeze. You can’t go wrong picking up whatever Saturday release they’re offering (it changes every week), and they usually have enough beer to last most of the day. Still, it’s strongly recommended to show up near opening to ensure you’re able to score the limited release.
  • Pure Project (Instagram) – Pure Project is a fantastic local brewery offering delicious beer that they’re canning fairly regularly, although not as frequently as Mikkeller. Just like Mikkeller however sell beer out of the brewery, and the lines tend to get loooong! Get there right at opening to ensure you’re able to score the special release, any of them will do fine, and bring your own bag to carry the beer home (you get a discount for doing so).
  • Modern Times (Instagram) – Modern Times has earned national attention for its delicious hoppy beers, barrel aged stouts, and interestingly enough, coffee. Unlike the other two breweries mentioned, with Modern Times you usually have to purchase the beer in advance using Brown Paper Tickets. Their releases are less frequent then Mikkeller or Pure Project, but being able to purchase beer without waiting in line can be a huge plus for someone not interested in hanging around a brewery for an hour. Again, you can’t go wrong with purchasing any of their special releases, any of them are sure to delight your friend/family member.

While the breweries above are known for their regular special releases, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention both Alesmith (Instagram) and Lost Abbey (Instagram), two breweries known for their world-class beer releases. While their releases aren’t as frequent, any of their special releases will make a great gift.

A New, and Nice, Growler

Growlers are large liquid holding containers most breweries will fill up with beer assuming they’re either un-branded or purchased directly from the brewery. Craft beer lovers will generally already have a few of these, but they could always use a few more! Our recommendation is to get a un-branded growler your gift recipient will be able to use nearly anywhere.

When it comes to selecting a growler as a gift, you can’t go wrong with the 64oz vacuum insulated stainless steel growler from DrinkTank (Amazon Link). These are high quality and nearly indestructible. Since they’re a little more expensive (around $70), your friend/loved one is less likely to already have one, but if they do, they could use another!

If you want to go the premium route, the Ferrari of growlers is the uKeg 64 pressurized growler in stainless steel (Amazon Link). At $200+, it’s in the ridiculously-expensive-for-a -growler-territory, but it’s also guaranteed to blow the socks off whoever you gift it to. These growlers use a carbonation charge to maintain the interior pressure, and have an exterior tap to make beer pouring easy. They’re crazy nice, and crazy impressive.

Craft Brewery Apparel

Giving the gift of brewery apparel is a safe and easy way to earn big points with your gift recipient. Apparel is readily available at nearly every single craft brewery in San Diego and usually very affordable. Getting your friend or loved one a hat or shirt from a local brewery, even if it’s not one of their favorites, is a great way to show you care enough about them and their hobby. They’re sure to use it, especially if it is from one of their favorites.

The time has come… Our eCommerce store launches today! (link in profile).

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Home Brew Equipment

Just like you probably shouldn’t get someone a pet as a gift, you probably shouldn’t get someone home brewing equipment unless they’ve asked for something specifically. Creating good quality home beer requires a lot of time, effort, space, and special equipment. You may be tempted to gift the inexpensive kits you can find at places like Target or Costco, but in our experience these kits are usually woefully inadequate.

Our gift recommendation is to purchase a brew-it-yourself beer “batch” at a brewery like Citizen Brewer. Citizen Brewer is a large facility in Grantville CA with commercial grade brewing equipment that offers anyone the opportunity to brew a custom or pre-set recipe with advice from a brewer. Ingredients are provided, and you can even create custom labels for your beer! Brew batches aren’t cheap (around $190-$300), but you get a ton of beer (72 22-ounce bottles or a 50L keg) and a great experience.

There you have it! With a little bit of thought, and this helpful guide, you can get your beer lover the best gift they receive this year! Good luck, and cheers!