Do you have a beer nut on your shopping list? Are you down to the wire getting presents?
Craft breweries across Alabama have you covered.
More than four dozen microbreweries and brew pubs dot the state, allowing plenty of opportunities to both support a local business and give an unusual but personal gift. Some beer-makers, like Cahaba Brewing in Birmingham and Straight to Ale in Huntsville, also distill their own spirits.
Not sure where to look? The U. S. Brewery Guide maintains a thorough list of Alabama breweries and brew pubs.
Here are a few ideas, some for specific beers or beer-related events, and others that will work for any nearby brewery. You can shop for most of it online. But shipping beer and spirits is illegal in Alabama.
Giving something seasonal or rare is always a good choice for the ale aficionado. The Birmingham area has great options for beer hounds.
Good People Brewing Company celebrates the annual December release of its souped-up imperial stout ale, El Gordo, pouring past and present vintages in its taproom on what the brewery calls El Gordo Day (this year on December 16). At 13.9 percent alcohol, it is the strongest beer you can buy in Alabama (state law sets a 14 percent limit). Good People also sells El Gordo in 22-ounce bottles (along with other bottled GP beers) in its taproom across from Regions Field in Birmingham’s Parkside District. Good People has released batches of El Gordo annually since 2010, the year the Free the Hops advocacy group convinced state legislators to allow stronger beers in Alabama.
Another option for going straight to the source for a special release is Brock’s Gap Brewery in Hoover. Its canned Christmas Ale is a full-bodied dark winter brew (6 percent alcohol) with a hint of peppermint. Bittering hops are relatively mild (impress your beer lover by telling them it’s 27 IBU, which in beer geek for relatively mild bitterness). Hoover’s first brewery is on Mineral Trace Road and is open daily.
For a broader selection, hop on down to Hop City Beer and Wine in Birmingham’s Pepper Place District. You’ll find canned and bottled holiday brews from around the world, including Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome from England, Delerium Noel from Belgium, and domestically brewed Fat Orange Cat Santa Claws. Here is a full list.
If the beer fiend on your gift list lives in the Huntsville-Madison area, sign them up for the Anti Temperance Society at Straight to Ale Brewing. For $19.99 per month, they are welcomed with a swag box and receive food and merchandise discounts, early access to beer releases, a monthly members-only growler fill, and more.
Alcohol can’t be shipped, but swag can. Every Alabama brewery sells branded t-shirts and hoodies, glassware, and other paraphernalia. Check a favored brewery’s store either online or at its taproom.
Pay for a few brews or let the recipient choose their own swag. Order at the brewery’s website or in-house store.
Set up a pub crawl so your craft beer fan can check out several places and enjoy the differences among the brews they make. Mobile has three breweries and a beer bar within a 10-square-block area downtown. Organize a walking tour that starts at Iron Hand Brewing on State Street and zig-zags to Braided River Brewing, Loda Bier Garten, and finally Oyster City Brewing on Government Street.
Downtown Huntsville has put together a craft beer trail with more than a half-dozen stops Visit North Alabama’s craft beer trail is perfect for weekend mountain get-aways. Both have passport promotions; visit each stop and receive a prize.