Belgium is amongst the most respected beer-producing countries. Not only because people here have perfected beer…
The web abounds with lists of gifts for beer lovers but let’s be honest, often are just a collection of useless things destined to get dusty on some shelf. Who really needs a magnetic bottle hanger or a beer holster? Your beer experiences deserve more than this.
Unless that you are a homebrewer, which tools to improve their work can be many, for a daily beer lover there are no real gadgets that can revolutionize your experience. However, it is possible to look in two directions, tradition and sensory skills, to find objects that can improve your approach to beer and make you more aware. Let’s go with some “educational gadgets” for beer lovers.
A Proper Set of Crystal Glassware
Glassware’s role in beer service is complex. (Check out our definitive guide) Glasses are effective at highlighting their corresponding beer styles. However, it’s not necessary to have a different glass for every beer. It may even be overly fussy. With less than 5 or 6 glasses, each beer style could be enjoyed at its best. A set of crystal glasses like Spiegelau ones will suit your needs:
A Lager glass, an Hefeweizen glass, an IPA glass, a Tulip and an English pint. Focus on quality instead of quantity and get rid of that useless festival glasses. Learn how to detect the correct glass for each beer style and immerse yourself in a correct tasting experience. For less than 50$, your beer experience will grow to a serious and proper level. Allowing you to identify that soft hidden nutty aroma or, worse, to elevate that pungent phenolic aftertaste.
Whether you want to enhances the hop flavor of Pilsner-style beers or support the malty character of bolder Stouts, you have to do it with these especially thin blown glasses. And when appropriate beer glassware is unavailable, there’s no reason for any hesitation to use wine glasses! No, shaker pint isn’t a proper beer glass!
Bierstacheln – The Hottest Beer Gift
Of all of our suggestions for “Best Gifts for Beer Lovers” this might be my favorite.
Hot red iron meets cold, strong beer: Legend has it that beer stinging goes back to an old forging tradition. According to this, the German blacksmiths found the beer stored outside in winter to be too cold. In order to quickly bring the beer to a more pleasant drinking temperature, they dipped their hot, glowing forged hook into the beer and made a surprising and tasty discovery.
The residual sugar in the beer caramelizes due to the heat shock. In addition, a large part of the carbon dioxide in the beer is suddenly released and a creamy and lukewarm foam is formed on the top, while the beer in the bottom of the glass only heats up slightly. This creates an interesting game for the senses. The still cool, caramelized beer is drunk through the warm, creamy foam. A pleasure that every beer lover should have experienced.
Today, instead of handmade worked iron, we use forged stainless steel, which we heat to approx. 600 ° C with the help of a Bunsen burner, then dip it into the beer glass and swing it out again. Bierstacheln is recommended for strong beers with more original gravity and correspondingly higher alcohol content, like Bock beer or Weizenbock beer. It is difficult to find a traditional Bierstacheln. If you really want to impress, have a local blacksmith to make you one. There is a decent version on Amazon.
Aroma and/or Off-flavor Kit Educational Beer Gift
The sense of smell is one of the most powerful senses we have but also the one we are least aware of. Every day hundreds of chemical compounds are intercepted by our nasal receptors generating impulses that are delivered directly to the brain, without any kind of intermediation. Being able to name these sensations is not easy, it requires a lot of training and patience. This is truly on opportunity to get great educational gifts for beer lovers.
If you don’t believe it, you can try the Spices Rack Aroma Challenge experiment suggested by Barb Stuckey in her book Taste: smell the spice jars in your kitchen with your eyes closed and try to give them a name. You will be amazed at how difficult it is to distinguish, for example, marjoram from thyme, even though they are widely used spices in cooking. Recognizing aromas, especially those that are considered defects in beer, is essential to become a serious beer lover.
A way to train your nose to recognize aroma and off-flavor is to buy a kit that allows you to reproduce them. There are several on the market (keep your eyes on a trusted brand like Aroxa, Siebel, Doemens, etc) and often the material is sufficient for about ten people: The powders are diluted in a commercial beer, possibly tasteless (the choice is vast) and then the blind-tasting start, eventually with the help of a set of beer flavor cards.
The recommended dosage is 1 liter of beer per capsule, but by diluting them less, the perception of aromas is more immediate (even if such concentrations will hardly be found in a real beer). With less than 20$ per person you can buy a set of 6 to 10 different aroma or off-flavor. More than reasonable outlay to spend a nice evening with friends and learn something about beer
Forget about the game where the main goal is to get drunk as quickly as possible. This is a real beer-style roulette. Funny but also really useful to get in touch with beer styles and their differences, it’s a mix between roulette and darts.
The game board is a circle divided into three parallel rings. Similar to a dartboard, with an external ring, a medium one and a small ring in the center of the board. The external ring is divided into three sections. One fore Ales, one for Lagers and the last one for mixed/spontaneous fermentation.
In the same way, the medium ring is divided in as many sectors as the beer styles that we want to play with. So each sector will represent a style like Stout, American Ipa, Saison, etc. The smaller central ring is left blank. At least two people start with at least 20 beer caps (instead of chips). Play with an unknown beer served from a third one (the only one who knows which beer is).
How to Play Beer Roulette
The goal is to obtain points by betting as many beer caps as you want on the board. Each player can choose to bet on fermentation type or style or guessing the beer with complete name by betting on the smaller central ring. If guessed, the external fermentation type ring multiply by 2 the caps, the medium style one by 3 and the central one by 5.
After three different beers are served, the player with more beer caps wins the game. Of course, this game is better if played with more people.
Since it’s not easy to find this game board, the advice is to build yours. A good way to learn beer styles by playing with them. Or you can buy this one of Amazon and modify the rules:
When considering the best gifts for beer lovers, “serving beer” is a great place to start. Based on the tradition established in the various areas of the oldest production, there are different pouring and methods that must be applied according to the type and characteristics of the beer to be served. One of the oldest, but at the same time often forgotten, is to use a wicker basket for serving Lambic beers.
Lambic baskets are used to keep the bottles as close to the horizontal position as possible when pouring. Between 20 and 23 degrees, to help prevent flavor-altering sediment from entering the glass. While there isn’t much documentation on the history of Lambic baskets, it’s thought that they were adapted from wine baskets commonly used in French wine country for similar sediment-removing purposes.
There’s always been a lot of influence between Belgium and France. It makes sense that Belgians started using them for beer. Of course, baskets are only useful if the beer has been kept on its side. Which typically applies to cellared vintage and often to recently purchased releases.
If the beer has been stored properly, the basket is the only way to serve it without ruining its complexity. As well as preserving a Belgian tradition. Typically, is used with Gueuze, Lambic, and fruit Lambics like Kriek or Framboise.
You may not be able to find a “Lambic Basket”, but I have found a “wine” one works well.
Best Educational Beer Gifts -Conclusion
That is about it. Get on your beer loving friends list of “best gift giver” with these great “educational” best gifts for beer lovers.