Urban Oyster offers a boatload of food and liquor-themed tours focused on promoting small, independent businesses around New York City. The “Brewed in Brooklyn” tour starts with a look into one of the borough’s modern day working breweries and then takes guests on a walk back in time to explore Brooklyn’s centuries-old brewing history. A fascinating stroll down Brewer’s Row, the seven-block stretch of Meserole and Scholes that was once home to at least a dozen German family-owned breweries, is followed by a casual lunch and enough tasty beer samples to keep a curious beer lover satiated for a full afternoon. Full disclosure: I’ve lead tours for this company for about a year and a half, but I wouldn’t recommend them unless I was sure they were the best in the business — which they are, of course.
Tickets: $65 per person; includes beer, food, transportation, map of the neighborhood, and tour guide.
Neighborwoods Brooklyn Map Coasters
This adorably-named Carroll Gardens shop specializes in etching vintage map designs and lettering into aromatic red cedar plywood that comes in many forms, from skateboard decks to keychains and this tasteful set of coasters. Each of the four cedar discs depicts a different hand-drawn section of the borough, allowing your drinking buddies to rep their ‘hoods while saving your furniture.
Set of 4 Coasters: $36
Transmitter Brewing CSB Membership
These days, it seems like New York City microbreweries are multiplying faster than sewer rats, and with all that new competition, some are devising new business models to keep their upstarts afloat. Enter Transmitter Brewing’s Community Supported Beer program, or CSB. It works just like a farm’s CSA, except instead of free range eggs and organic carrots, thirsty shareholders receive a steady supply of fresh suds throughout the six month term. Located just over the Pulaski bridge from Greenpoint, Transmitter churns out a consistently impressive line of creative, yeast-driven brews in pretty 750ml bottles. CSB members are allotted two per month, as well as two branded tasting glasses, a Transmitter t-shirt and 10% off all other bottle sales from their LIC taproom.
One CSB Share: $175 + tax; runs Dec. 1 – May 31 and includes 2 bottles per month, glasses, t-shirt and 10% discount.
Hard Cider Kit from Brooklyn Brew Shop
Brooklyn Brew Shop’s ingenious line of one-gallon homebrew kits are ubiquitous among beverage-themed gift lists each holiday season, and for good reason — the simple, easy to follow brew-in-a-box model allows space-conscious urban dwellers to try their hand at DIY beer making without investing in expensive equipment or figuring out where the heck to store a five gallon carboy full of bubbling liquid for a few weeks. This cider kit represents a bit of a departure for the successful Brooklyn-based company, a foray into less laborious gluten-free fermentation that promises to fill your apartment with the crisp scent of Fall…if everything goes according to plan.
Hard Cider Kit: $40 per box; yields 3 batches.
Beer Lover’s New York by Sarah & Giancarlo Annese
Husband and wife team Sarah and Giancarlo Annese head up BeerUnion.com, a website devoted to covering all the latest craft beer news and events around New York state. The Crown Heights-based couple recently released their first book, Beer Lover’s New York, a comprehensive look into the Empire State’s burgeoning brewing industry. The book, which charts a course through dozens of award-winning microbreweries, brewpubs and beer bars from Brooklyn to Buffalo and back again, is the perfect gift for the day trip planner or the craft brew hobbyist looking to expand their knowledge. And, for a limited time, the Anneses are selling personally signed copies through their website.
Beer Lover’s New York: $19.95 on BeerUnion.com
Brooklyn Spirit Taster by Mouth
DUMBO’s Mouth is a super cool company that seeks out the best in indie food and drink and curates creatively designed gift packages suitable for almost any taste. The Brooklyn Spirit Taster is a refined boozehound’s dream come true: three full-sized bottles and one half bottle of small-batch, locally distilled liquors all snuggled together in a pretty little branded totebag. Now all you’ll need is some giant ice cubes and a bottle of artisanal bitters to take your kitchenette cocktail game to the next level. This one’s definitely on my list.
Brooklyn Spirit Taster: $170; includes 3 full bottles and 1 half bottle, plus additional treats (check website for current list of distilleries).
Whiskey & Beer Taxonomy Glassware from Pop Chart Lab
A grab bag of Brooklyn booze is a fantastic gift, of course, but I wouldn’t recommend drinking the fancy stuff straight from the bottle. That’s where Pop Chart Lab comes in. Famous for their nerdily beautiful taxonomy posters, this Brooklyn-based design lab also makes a variety of glassware featuring liquor-centric illustrations and typography. The four major types of whiskey are detailed on a set of classy 14 oz tumblers, ideal for slow sipping a neat pour of Breuckelen Distilling 77 Local Rye and Corn, while the iconic beer breakdown map is displayed on a shiny 16 oz pint glass. It’s like science meets art meets lots and lots of drinking.
Taxonomy Glassware: $45 for a set of 4 Whiskey glasses; $14 for one 16 oz pint glass.
NY State “Drink Beer From Here” T-Shirt
To say that New York’s craft beer industry has grown exponentially over the past three years would be a gross understatement. With over fifteen new breweries setting up shop in the five boroughs alone, suffice it to say that we’re in the midst of a major beer boom. Invite your beer-ly beloved to celebrate the state while enjoying its riches with this simple screenprinted cotton tee from Etsy’s HopCloth. There are other states available, too, but just fuhgettaboud ‘em.
NY State “Drink Beer From Here” T-Shirt: $20-22, Men’s Sizes S-3XL.
Anarchy in a Jar Beer Mustard & Spiced Beer Jelly
You might have spotted Brooklyn’s Anarchy in a Jar hanging around your neighborhood farmer’s market, hawking their delicious lineup of jams, jellies, chutneys and sandwich spreads to hoards of locavores sporting public radio totes. Next time, stop by the table and pick up a jar of brew-infused spiced jelly or whole grain mustard for your favorite beer geek. These unique condiments combine beer sourced from local breweries like Red Hook’s Sixpoint with fresh herbs and spices and make excellent stocking stuffers.
Beer Mustard & Spiced Beer Jelly: Prices vary; check website for availability and full list markets.
Brewshop 101 Class at Bitter & Esters
While signing someone up for a class might seem like a lame present at first, adding a few pints of freshly brewed beer to the equation makes things start to look up. Each month, Prospect Heights shop Bitter & Esters hosts several different hands-on homebrew demos at their in-store test kitchen, and they’re always on the lookout for new recruits. At Brewshop 101: Homebrewing Essentials, B&E’s passionate instructors walk rookies through the basic brewing process, supplying the pupils with enough homebrew samples to keep them engaged. A student ticket reserves a spot in the class, and you can sweeten the deal by adding the “Brewing Essentials Starter Kit,” which includes everything the eager learner needs to keep the fun flowing at home.
Brewshop 101: $55 student ticket only; $142 – $290 for ticket + starter kit (optional) & additional supplies.