It's 11 days until I stuff myself full of good food, good drink and enjoy good company. I bottled up my Xmas beer - a 4.5% pale ale - this week, but have only purchased one gift. I'm sure I'm not the only one to be slacking off on the shopping front. It's one of those things that should be done early, but always takes place in a mad rush just hours before The Big Guy heads down the chimney.
If you too are having trouble purchasing gifts, here's a helpful guide to get you through. I hereby give you Jono's Beery Guide to Christmas Shopping.
The mate: gifts for friends should always be a bit funny, but still awesome.
It seems the perfect occasion for The Comically Large Bottle of Booze. Plenty of European beers come supersized. Duvel, the classic Belgian strong golden ale, is available in anything from a 330ml stubbie to an epic 5 litre jeroboam. And remember - the bigger the bottle, the more there is for said friend to share with you. Because that's what friends do, right?
The in-laws: ah yes, them. Buy them too much booze and you'll look like a pisshead. Buy something cheap and you'll look, well, cheap.
I suggest a brewery tour. It's more of an educational experience than a drinking one, and they can decide to have beers if they want to. Tuatara do a tour at their recently-opened site in Paraparaumu, while the nearest would be the iconic Tui brewery in Mangatainoka.
The parents: they know you. They've seen you boozed at your cousin's wedding on cheap bubbles. They probably saw the effects of your first hangover. You owe them for looking after you, so get them something they can cherish.
Some breweries label their beers with the year they were brewed. Just like wine, some beers are better with age. Chimay, one of the most popular Trappist breweries, released a special 2012 vintage to coincide with their 150th anniversary. Impress your parents with some class, as they've seen you without it plenty of times. It's the least you can do.
The brewer: they don't want beer; they brew their own. So help them do that.
But what do they like? Are they an extract, partial mash or all-grain brewer? How big are the batches they brew? This is when gift vouchers save your life. Head to any of the New Zealand-based brew store websites (Google is you friend here, but I'm a fan of Brew Shop or Liberty and flick them a $50 voucher. That should cover about one brew, which they should share with you.
The boss: don't buy them a present, you brown-nosed suck-up. Unless you're self-employed. In that case, spoil the boss rotten.
A 750ml bottle of Cantillion Lou Pepe Framboise could be a great way to go. Sweet and fruity - it is a raspberry beer after all - before a huge tart finish, it is the perfect beer to have fridge-cold on Christmas morning as the sun starts to warm you up for the day ahead.
Yourself: it is Christmas after all, and you've worked hard this year. Even if you aren't your own boss (see above), you should still get something for you. Something you know you will enjoy. Presents should bring joy. If you get joy from a sour aged in oak barrels, a six-pack of Macs, or even a crate of Tui, so be it. Christmas is merry after all, so make sure to do something to make yourself merry.
What beery Christmas present ideas do you have? Or is that not your thing?
- Manawatu Standard