It’s not about finding “the perfect gift” or whatever the latest fashionable trinket may be. Folks who are into craft drinks and environmental responsibility tend to be pretty centered and earthy.
If the holiday season has you seeking a gift for someone who drinks with a green conscience then you might consider some of the following suggestions.
Beer/wine making kit
Yes, this is legal. Making wine at home became legal with the end of Prohibition in 1933. Making beer at home became legal courtesy of President Jimmy Carter on October 14, 1978.
You can make it, drink it, and share it. Don’t try to sell it without the proper government licenses, though – you’ll get into a lot of trouble.
Making liquor at home is still illegal.
As we’ve discussed before, making your own beer or wine is inherently green because it requires very little packaging (reduce) and mostly reusable components. At 8 pounds per gallon, the weight of water contributes heavily to the carbon emissions involved in transporting drinks, something that you won’t incur when making your own.
A complete beginner’s brewing system costs about $70.00 and includes everything that you need to make 5-gallon batches.
In the Philadelphia area, Home Sweet Homebrew sells wine and beer kits and gift certificates. In the Delaware Valley alone there are homebrewing stores from Lewes to Bethlehem to Wyoming to Freehold to South Orange. The Mid-Atlantic Brewing News has a directory and many also sell wine kits.
At this time of year, many stores carry “Mr. Beer,” brewing kits. Yes, the fermenter, shaped like a keg, is kind of cheesy, and the name may remind you of the “Mr. Plow” episode of “The Simpsons.”
However, Mr. Beer is a good way to start. It takes about 90 minutes from sanitizing to pitching yeast for a 2-gallon batch, with primary fermentation taking 7-14 days and then another 7-14 days for bottle conditioning. The company offers good customer service, too, in case you get stuck.
Beerjobber is a Web site through which you can buy cases (or half-cases, from some breweries) of beer from 67 breweries across the United States. It saves the hassle and the carbon emissions of driving around searching for a particular beer, especially one that is hard to find.
Beerjobber sells gift certificates. It can ship to 37 states (sorry, Delaware and Maryland) so make sure of the address of the intended recipient before you buy.
Ditch those cheesy plastic cups. You’re not fooling anyone, anyhow. Kleen Kanteen, the same company that makes steel water bottles, also make pint “glasses” out of stainless steel. They’re durable and reusable, even dishwasher-safe, and you can get 4 for $36 at REI.
You’ll need a way to fill those pint glasses (“steels?”). Hydroflask, Liberty Bottleworks (which takes custom designs), and Stanley all make backcountry growlers to carry your beer safely down the trail. You may not be able to fill them directly at the brewery but you can always pour a regular growler, bottle, or can into one of these.
For wine drinkers, the Platy Preserve is lightweight and durable and lets you squeeze out the excess air after opening to protect your wine.