Raleigh, N.C. — As the whole craft beer movement explodes across North Carolina and the Triangle area there is sure to be a craft beer lover on your list of those you have to buy gifts for this holiday season. Last year we tipped you off to some great suggestions for gifts for the NC craft beer lover in your life and we wanted to do the same for 2014. Last year’s lineup included beer itself, appropriate beer glassware, beer tours, beer carriers, homebrew equipment and books about craft beer. That list is still a great one! You might want to revisit it before you go shopping.
For 2014, we’ll start where we left off last year and recommend a specific book that was published this year and one that is sure to be a hit when received as a gift by your Triangle craft beer lover. "Beer Lover's the Carolinas: Best Breweries, Brewpubs & Beer Bars" by Daniel Hartis hit the shelves in April and is the definitive guide to all things craft beer in North (and yes, South counts too) Carolina. As Dave wrote in an Amazon review of the book earlier this year, “This book takes you on a great tour of the breweries and brewpubs” … with “excellent pictures and a narrative that's descriptive and down-to-earth so you can almost feel like you’re in each location with him." This is the book you read before you plan your Carolinas craft beercations - put it in the car and drive.
Our second gift suggestion for this year may not seem beer related at all, but stick with us on this one! Go out and buy the craft beer lover in your life a 12 pack of Cheerwine. Yes, you read that correctly. Cheerwine - the famous “Born in the South. Raised in a glass” cherry flavored soda out of Salisbury. Then go have a look at a video we did on the topic of mixing NC craft beer with Cheerwine in the mostly European traditions of the “shandy” or “radler,” which is beer mixed with a soft drink, carbonated lemonade, ginger ale or fruit juice. You may have heard it called a “Diesel,” as that is draft beer mixed with Coca-Cola in some parts of Europe. You can bring these fine drinking traditions to NC and put your very own spin on the practice by using Cheerwine as mixer across various styles of NC craft beer! Hey, maybe we have started a new tradition! Cheershandy?
Our third recommendation for 2014 is to purchase a North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild Pint Hound membership for your beer lover. This is a great way for anyone to show their support and appreciation of the local NC beer movement. This membership brings with it a killer t-shirt, special treatment at some Guild member breweries, a brushed aluminum membership card that doubles as a bottle opener, a window sticker identifying membership, a quarterly newsletter keeping you posted on the latest NC craft beer news and many other great goodies including that “awesome feeling of knowing you are supporting the guild’s work to make North Carolina The State of Southern Beer."
Your beer-loving friends more than casually interested in craft beer? How about giving them part ownership in a new brewery? Burlington Beer Works is now offering $100 cooperative ownership opportunities where 1000 initial founders will own and run a brewery and brewpub in Burlington. Individual ownership shares provide the co-op members with a vote and a voice in operation of the brewery and a share of the profits, the ability to purchase preferred stock shares and access to special owners only events, beer tastings and keg tappings.
Finally, we can't end a list of gift suggestions for the beer lover in your life without some actual beer. A great gift that keeps on giving all throughout the year is to sign your friends up for one of the local bottle shop or brewery customer loyalty or reward programs. A lot of the Triangle breweries and bottle shops have such programs. Carolina Brewery of Chapel Hill and Pittsboro runs a "Brew Crew" loyalty program where members receive points with every dollar you spend with them, a monthly newsletter, and invitations to free beer tastings throughout the year and access to tickets for brewery events before the general public.
The Glass Jug in Durham runs what it calls “The Varsity,” their VIP beer locker program, which is their way of providing a pretty sweet incentive to some of their best customers. Each year, 24 people rent out actual locker space on premises and are given a lock. These folks are the first to be notified of any rare or limited-release beer offerings that make it into the store. Locker owners have the first ability to call “dibs” on a bottle before they hit the shelves, and the beer gets stashed away in their locker until they come and pick it up.
Spread some beer cheer this holiday season, and remember to save some great craft beer for yourself and to "Drink Local and Keep Your Beer Dollars in North Carolina."
Dave Tollefsen and Glenn Cutler are regular guys living in central North Carolina with their families who share a love for craft beer and homebrewing. They work together as the NCBeerGuys. They can be found online at ncbeerguys.com promoting North Carolina craft beer, providing information about the folks who produce local beer and writing about beer adventures, activities and events across North Carolina