These gift idea will bring a round of cheers for beer lovers

Dear Santa,

How’s it going, geezer? Betcha didn’t think I’d catch up to you after that little stunt you pulled last winter at our annual poker game. You walked out of the club after running five straight pots and didn’t give the rest of us – the Easter Bunny, St. Patrick, the Tooth Fairy and me, Joe Sixpack – a chance to get our money back. None of us believed that baloney about catching the last train home to feed the reindeer. Heck, the R-2 line doesn’t even go to the North Pole.

The fang pixie says he’d like to rip the whiskers outta your chinny-chin-chin.

Me? Forget that naughty-or-nice stuff. The way I got it figured, you owe me big time; we can settle up this holiday season.

So listen up, fat boy, ’cause this list is long. It’s everything a beer lover wants for Christmas (or any other gift-giving holiday, for what it’s worth).

Namely, beer.

Last year, you stuffed my stocking with a sixpack of green Rolling Rock bottles tied with red bows – real festive, Santa. This year, be a little creative and put together a nice basket of those 22-ounce specialty bottles of Stoudt from Adamstown, Pa., or Rogue of Oregon. You can grab a bunch for about $3 each at almost any decent deli.

If you’re too brain-dead to do it yourself, trot over to Bridgid’s (726 N. 24th St., Fairmount) and they’ll arrange a basket of Belgian brews for $30.

Dock Street (2 Logan Square, Center City) carries 120-ounce mini-kegs of their specialty brews for $22.95. And most of the local brewpubs (including Samuel Adams, Manayunk Brewing, Valley Forge and Poor Henry’s) sell their fresh draft brew in 1-gallon growlers for about $12. They’re a perfect treat for a holiday party.

I could probably duplicate their recipes with my own beer-making kit. Everything I need to start my own brew is available for about $60 at Home Sweet Homebrew (2008 Sansom St., Center City) or Barry’s Homebrew Outlet (101 Snyder Ave., South Philly).

Feeling guilty about pulling that inside straight? A case of holiday ale stuffed ‘neath my tree might make us feel better. This is the only time of the year you can find Anchor Brewing Our Special Ale or Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale (about $30). They’re dark, spicy ales made for sipping with gingerbread cookies while you watch da Eagles clobber the Gints.

Guzzling these fine ales out of the botle may be good enough for red-nosed lushes like you, Claus. But to fully appreciate these brews’ character, I’d prefer a new set of glassware to replace the ones you smashed while toasting the Flyers last spring.

Almost all the local microbreweries (including Gravity, Red Bell, Independence and Flying Fish) sell pint glasses with their logos for about 3 bucks a pop.

What I really need, though, is a few of those tulip-shaped glasses for Belgian ale. I know they’re hard to find, but send one of those foul-tempered elves up to Shangy’s (601 State Ave., Emmaus, Pa.) for the best selection of beer glassware in the area (not to mention America’s largest variety of beers).

Too cheap to pay for the gas, you chiseler? Pick up the phone and dial 800-694-4255 (you’ll have to take off those goofy mittens) for Lion Pub Paraphernalia. The catalog outfit has an excellent selection of mail-order breweriana, including a Sierra Nevada pub mirror ($24) and a personalized neon tavern sign ($250).

While I’m waiting for my delivery, I could use a good book.

I already have everything that beer guru Michael Jackson has written, but new editions of his best volumes are on the shelves. His sixth edition of “The Simon & Schuster Pocket Guide to Beer” is indispensable for discovering those obscure brews in Czechoslovakia and Germany. The second edition of “Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion” (Running Press) is a marvelous backgrounder on beer styles and breweries.

I’d enjoy paging through “The Encyclopedia of World Beers” (Chartwell Books) by Benjamin Myers and Graham Lees. It’s full of nifty info on the world’s best beers, a quirky glossary of beer terms and step-by-step photo instructions on the obscure art of conditioning a cask of beer.

You can help me in my quest for great beers by wrapping up a copy of “The Great Lakes Beer Guide” (Boston Mills Press) by Jamie MacKinnon. It’s a terrific, opinionated guide to beers from Canada and the Rust Belt states, including Pennsylvania.

It’s your choice, Santa. Bring me what I want or I send the fang pixie to the North Pole.

Merry Christmas,

Joe Sixpack

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