Post-Gazette Blogs

Spreading the cheer with beer

gifts eliza bottles main art

Craft beer is a solid gift any time of year, and with so many special releases to round out the calendar, you’re bound to be able to find something the beer lover on your list will appreciate.

But wrapping six packs can be tricky, and most of us don’t keep refrigerators under the tree. So I spent some time tracking down some cool beer-related gift ideas that should do better accompanying a card or tucked in a stocking.

PuzzlePax: It’s unique, it’s sturdy, it’s practically zero-waste and it’s made with lasers. We’re talking about a PuzzlePax six-pack carrier, constructed at TechShop in Bakery Square. Company founders Gio Attisano and Nick Thompson got PuzzlePax started a little over a year ago, after spending weeks coming up with a design that would hold up to repeated use and leave very little wooden waste behind. The pax, available with custom engraving through Amazon, have taken off, so get your order in soon.

East End Brewing Grains to Glass Tour: Want to know what goes into making that delicious glass of Fat Gary Brown Ale or Black Strap Stout? You can follow the process from start to finish on the aptly named Grains to Glass Tour at East End Brewing. Each tour will give users a look — and several tastes — of the craft-brewing process, from the malts used in each East End beer, to brewing, fermenting and packaging. Each tour includes several samples and a little credit to spend in East End’s gift shop or in its tap room. Book your tour in advance at the East End web site.

Boozy baking at Eliza’s Oven: What makes an apple pie even better? When a taste of whiskey is baked inside. The same goes for a steak-and-stout hand pie. Whether you’re a fan of sweet or savory, you’ll find a boozy treat you’ll love at Eliza’s Oven in Pittsburgh Public Market in the Strip. Owner Eliza Bowman began to develop a fondness for baking with beer and liquor when she realized exactly how many basic flavors have an alcoholic component, and she’s carried that expertise into dozens of recipes she serves at her shop in the market. She’s about to carry those recipes to a new storefront in Point Breeze as well; you can help out by giving her Indiegogo campaign a hand.

Carry home a crowler from Independent Brewing Co.: You probably know what a growler is, right? A refillable glass or metal container, usually holding a gallon, that brewers are happy to fill with their products. Crowlers are a newer thing, but they’re just as handy … and they may be even better for gift-giving purposes. A crowler is a 32-ounce can that is filled and sealed at a brewery or bar — in our case, with the help of Pete Kurzweg at Independent Brewing Co. in Squirrel Hill. The seal is generally tighter than the screw-on cap of a growler, so the beer inside will stay fresher longer; because it’s a can and not a glass container, there’s also no way for your precious cargo to be light struck and skunked. And if you find that your basement is filling up with dozens of growlers — or is that just me? — you’ll be pleased to hear that your empty, aluminum crowlers are simple to toss in the recycling bin.

Pittsburgh’s original Christmas beer: It doesn’t have fruit, nutmeg or cinnamon, and it’s definitely not released in October. But among all the excellent holiday beers or winter warmers, Penn Brewing’s St. Nikolaus Bock — and its big brother, St. Nikolaus Brewer’s Reserve Doppelbock — are worthy of the hype that follows winter seasonals. It’s rich and roasty, a gentle touch of sweetness and some alcohol warmth lurking in the background. Grab a six-pack at the store or a glass at the Troy Hill brewery … it’s the perfect way to spend an chilly December evening.

Category: Pittsburgh