Are you looking for that perfect gift for a craft beer lover? For advice, we turned to trailblazing brewer Sam Calagione, the founder and president of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. As expected, Calagione had plenty of ideas.
If you’re heading to a party and looking for a gift for the host, Calagione suggests dropping by your host’s local brewery for a gift. “It’s a nice, novel gift to find the closest brewery and take the time to go there and buy a freshly poured growler—a half gallon of draft beer that should be drunk as fresh and immediately as possible.”
Not sure which beer or which brewery? Check beeradvocate.com for ratings.
To Start Off the Party
For something light, Calagione suggests making beer-mosas—mixing two-thirds Belgian-style white beer to one-third fresh-squeezed orange juice, and serving them in champagne flutes. The orange peel and coriander in these beers makes them natural partners with orange juice. His picks: Allagash White, Avery Brewing’s White Rascal, and Dogfish Head’s Namaste.
An Affordable Luxury
Here’s a tip for a special gift: Buy a 4-pack or 6-pack of 12-ounce bottles of dark beer that’s over 9 percent. “They can age as well as the world’s finest bordeaux, but they’re an affordable luxury,” Calagione said.
On each bottle, write, “Happy New Year 2016,” “Happy New Year 2017,” and so on, and you’ll have set them up for a New Year’s toast for the next several years.
His picks: Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot Barleywine, “a nice hoppy marmalade-esque barleywine that ages well”; AleSmith’s Speedway Stout; and from Dogfish, the Palo Santo Marron (12 percent ABV), aged in tanks made of Paraguaran Palo Santo wood—as it ages, the flavor of the roast recedes, and the spicy, caramel character of the wood comes forward.
Whereas single IPAs are defined by the grassiness of the hops and bitterness, imperial IPAs are more wine-like in their complexity.
“Imperial IPA usually also have some barley character, some sweetness, and more body to them,” Calagione said. “They can stand up to really flavorful foods like turkey, or even chocolate cake. They have the alcohol content closer to chardonnay, so they’re great partners for food.”
His picks: Stone Brewing’s Arrogant Bastard, Russian River Brewing Company’s Pliny the Younger, Dogfish Head’s 90-Minute IPA.