This year my wife and I are planning to continue our tradition of giving homebrewed beer as a holiday gift to our friends and family. We began this tradition two years ago with what was our second ever batch of all-grain beer.
The beer was built on the basic framework of a Belgian dubbel but featured a roasted acorn squash in the mash and extra spices in the boil and fermenter. The end result was a very rich and spicy holiday drink.
We made some labels for the beer and proceeded to gift it to many of our friends and family. Did everyone love it? I don’t really know if everyone did—I can guess that not everyone did—but enough people let us know they liked it that we decided to continue the tradition.
Every year we’ve varied the recipe a bit but we’ve kept a few things in common from batch to batch. The first is the acorn squash, possibly because it’s local and unique, but also because it allows us to call the beer “Acorn E. KWistmas Ale.” Yes, a very corny name if there ever was one, but we’re sticking with it.
The other thing every batch has had in common is the yeast. We’ve used T-58 every year and always liked how well it pairs with the extra spices we add, including clove, all spice, and cinnamon.
For labels we made neck tags the first year but changed it up last year with larger labels taped to the bottles. For packaging we always put this beer in a large bottle, either 650 ml or 750 ml, because we want the recipients to enjoy the beer with others. We’ve found that this beer is best when shared and that seems very much in the holiday spirit.
But what exactly is the holiday spirit? Is gift-giving for the benefit of the recipient or the giver?
I don’t think I truly began experiencing Christmas fully until I discovered the wonder and joy of giving gifts that I had poured (no pun intended) myself into. And this doesn’t include just beer. I’ve made journals for family members out of old books. My wife and I have written songs for family members who couldn’t be with us at Christmas. We’ve made jams and jellies too. But beer has been our favourite gift to make.
Beer makes a wonderful gift because you can pretty well assume the person you’re giving it to will like it. Furthermore it is a good gift because it is not useless, and nor does it add clutter to someone’s life. Even better, it is an expression of your own interests and passions. Making beer is not difficult but it’s not exactly easy either. It takes your time and attention. It takes care and thoughtfulness. These are not just the qualities that make good beer; they are the qualities of a good friend. And isn’t that what giving gifts is all about?
The recipes for our KWistmas Ale can be found here: 2013, 2014, 2015 (and yes, they are rather odd recipes). For more ideas for giving your homebrew as a gift check out this article at Brew/Drink/Run.
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