For last-minute shoppers, beer can be the perfect go-to gift. In fact, beer has a lot going for it over traditional last-minute gifts. Gift cards are impersonal and suggest the recipient was an afterthought. But when you buy someone quality craft beer, it says, "Hey, I dig this, and I think you'll appreciate it." Beer is also an amazing value. Try to buy the some of the world's higher-end wine or distilled spirits for less than $20. It won't happen. But for $20 or less, you can gift the best beers the brewing world has to offer. And unlike a singing and dancing bass, beer is a gift that almost everyone appreciates opening. Here are a few gift ideas available around Tampa Bay.
Saranac 12 Beers of Winter
This mixed sampler includes a Belgian-style ale, nut brown lager (a unique lager take on brown ale), vanilla stout, Bohemian Pilsener, ESB (extra special bitter) and an India brown ale (a darker version of the popular India pale ale). The sampler includes two of each style, and the variety of beers in the sampler ensures your giftee will find a nice match for Christmas dinner. Saranac 12 Beers of Winter costs $17.49 and is available at Total Wine & More.
Sam Smith's Winter Welcome Ale
This winter warmer features a classic English flavor and aroma profile including carmel malt, floral hop notes and a creamy mouthfeel. Winter Welcome comes in four-packs containing 18.7-ounce "Victorian Pints" for around $8.99 at many local retailers.
Corsendonk Christmas Ale
A strong dark Belgian ale, this brew features cloves and caramel and is best enjoyed slightly chilled. A 750ml bottle costs about $8.99 at Total Wine & More.
Wychwood Bah Humbug Christmas Ale
For the Grinch on your Christmas list, the Wychwood Brewery out of the United Kingdom offers the intensely malty Bah Humbug. Wychwood is well known for its slogan, "What's the matter lager boy, afraid you might taste something?" They pull no punches with this beer either, brewing a fairly intense (by British standards) winter warmer.
Rogue Santa's Private Reserve
For the bitter hop lovers on your Christmas list, look to Rogue's Santa's Private Reserve. Santa's Private Reserve is an amber ale with an identity crisis. It isn't really an amber ale and it isn't really an IPA. Which makes it kind of a strong ale — but at 6 percent alcohol by volume, it's not even really that. What Santa's Reserve is for sure is hoppy. The beer manages to come off much hoppier than its 44 International Bitering Units would suggest. Pine, spruce and citrus laden hops make up the aroma, but there is just enough sweet malt to keep things from getting too far out of hand. You can pick up Santa's Private Reserve at better beer retailers like World of Beer in Clearwater. Twenty-two-ounce bombers run about $5.29 and six packs about $10.99.
Sam Adams Winter Classics Sampler
The great thing about Sam Adams — besides their solid and steady beers — is that you can find it everywhere. Even the more limited releases, like the Winter Classic Sampler can be found in local grocery stores like Publix. The sampler includes Boston lager, winter lager, cream stout, Old Fezziwig ale, holiday porter and cranberry lambic. The Winter Lager is a bock, Old Fezziwig comes across as a spiced brown ale and the cranberry lambic is just plain odd, but worth trying. The Sam Adams sampler pack is a great gift for someone who is just getting into craft beer or likes trying new styles. The sampler costs about $14 and is widely available across Tampa Bay.