Craft beer has never been more popular. There are well over 4,000 breweries in the United States, 68 of which are right here in New Jersey. And according to the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, another 43 are in the works! As a result, myriad gadgets and gizmos have emerged to form a secondary market for the beer lover. Some are essential and others not so much. Here are a few things that will put a smile on any beer lover’s face.
Besides glassware, the growler is the most useful item a beer lover can own. Many breweries don’t can or bottle their beer, so the growler is the only way to get it to go. Chances are, your beer lover has one of those brown 64 or 32 oz bottles with the twist-off caps. They’re serviceable if your brewery is close by and you’re going to drink the beer that day. They won’t cut it if you’re heading up to Vermont for the weekend to get some fresh, cloudy New England IPA, though. Why not upgrade to a Hydro Flask? They were the first to offer an insulated stainless steel growler. The Hydro Flask growler will keep beer cold for 24 hours and has a tight seal that retains carbonation. Best of all, it completely blocks out sunlight—unlike that brown glass—which will degrade hops in as little as 15 minutes of direct exposure. It’s also kind of a status symbol, if you’re into that kind of thing. ($40-$65)
OAK AND RANDALL
Some beer lovers like to tinker. I know I do. I’ve often wondered what a particular beer would taste like if it was barrel aged. The Oak Bottle could help me satisfy that curiosity right at home. It’s a bottle-shaped vessel that accelerates the oak aging process so I don’t have to wait for months! The Oak Bottle works its magic in as little as two hours. It’s reusable and works with wine or whiskey (or whisky if you’re into scotch), too. How about filling it up with stout, rinse with water when you’re done, and refilling it with scotch? Sounds pretty good to me. They also come pre-infused with different flavors! ($40-$90)
Speaking of infused, if your beer lover has a home draft system, they’d probably love to tinker with a randall. What is it? It was invented by, and is sold at, Dogfish Head Brewery. It’s a filtering system that infuses draft beer with fresh hops, spices or whatever you want! A randall is a complicated-looking piece of plumbing with two chambers: one to infuse and the other to defoam your beer for a perfect pour. ($300)
Then, of course, there is beer. The Garden State Craft Brewers Guild has a very handy brewery map of New Jersey. Why not just find one near you and load up on some beer and merch? Most of them have gift stores and you can sample some beer while you’re there. Sounds better than the mall to me!