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I’m very proud of my homebrewing rootes. It literally taught me everything I know about brewing… To be fair, I really still feel like I am a homebrewer, just on a much bigger scale. And I don’t live at the brewery… that would be cold.
All grain brewing is an art, a science and to many, an obsession. You use your brain, you get to play with bits of shiny kit, you get to build your own kit (Which obviously pisses all over everyone elses’ kit) You formulate your own unique recipes with ingredients from all over the globe and you get great (sometimes) beer to drink at the end of it! What’s not to love!?
If there is a homebrewer in your life, you will no doubt have been regaled with exciting tales of their first brew or how they discovered their favourite yeast strain. If you live with a homebrewer you almost certainly have next to no free cupboard space, on account of them all being transformed into temporary fermentation rooms. You may too have been treated to extra fridges in rooms other than the kitchen, to keep their live ingredients well, alive.
If you are one of these lucky homebrewer loved ones, you may well be wondering what on earth to get them as a gift. I’m here to help. But first, I’ll tell you what not to get… and that is almost certainly home brew kit. Kit is sacred. Kit is to be mused over at length, pondered upon, researched and searched for. How will I construct my world beating immersion cooler if I haven’t lovingly researched the brand, sizing and performance of every element myself? I won’t. My beer will be shit and it will all be ruined. I may as well just fuck off to Wilko and get a tub of sludge for the airing cupboard. To be frank, buying unsolicited kit takes the fun out of it for your homebrew buddy. Don’t do it. If they ask for something specific though, fill your boots! Buy them 2 if you like. But if you’re reading this gift guide and you already have a present idea, I fear you may need more life challenges….
So what should you get them? Well, home brewing, like all fun hobbies, costs a shit load of money. You can do it on a budget, I used to deconstruct old plastic kettles to use as my boiler elements, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I still twitch when I pass a plug socket. Kit and ingredients can cost megabucks, so naff as it sounds, vouchers can be the most thoughtful gift for a homebrewer. I’d recommend going somewhere like The Malt Miller or BrewUK. Both are exceptionally well stocked, very approachable and super friendly. I’ve used both of these suppliers since I started homebrewing and do now on occasion for the micro-brewery.
If you don’t want to go down voucher alley there are a couple of other ideas that might work. Having banged on at length about not buying kit… there is one bit of kit you could get. The mash paddle is possibly one of the most useful, and yet insignificant parts of the brew process. This is mainly because you can use literally anything as a mash paddle… a very large spoon, a thick stick you have lovingly treated and sealed, a severed limb … the list goes on. What I’m saying is, mash paddles are vital to the process, but they aren’t that important in terms of their performance. A nicely made mash paddle, perhaps with some personalisation would be a great present. Unless they got one last year.
Finally, if some selfish bastard got them a mash paddle last year, or you don’t like them enough to drop that much cash. You could get them some unique or unusual ingredients. Brewers use a number of things to make and get flavour into beer. Malt, yeast and hops are the main ones, but you can use oats, lactose, fruit pulp or even shreddies cereal (I kid you not) to name but a few. Home brewers love a challenge so if you get them an unusual yeast strain or hop, they will more than likely feel compelled to attempt a decent beer from it… and feel grateful to you for the opportunity. Your local homebrew shop, The Malt Miller or BrewUK have a massive variety of yeast and hops available. They can guide you on unique varieties or just what’s hot right now. You can give your favourite homebrewer a bit of variety in their brew schedule and challenge their recipe skills. They may also hate you forever for exposing them as a one trick recipe pony, but you can’t please everyone.
So there it is. Your homebrewer’s gift guide. I hope you found it useful. If not, just buy them beer…. They definitely like beer!