A buy local gift guide with a high alcohol content

From underwear to T-shirts to barrel aged beers, this collection of holiday gift ideas offers something for the hops head on your list.
Holiday gift giving season is upon us, and as you can imagine the breweries of Southwest Michigan have some pretty amazing offerings that can be handed out to your friends and family. What you will find here is only a small cross-section of giftable ideas from the area, but really any craft beer, wine, or spirits-based gift is sure to be a hit with the imbiber on your gift list. Feel free to use this guide simply as that, a guide, Craft gift ideas are nearly endless.

Barrel Aged Beers 

Barrel aged beers make wonderful gifts for several reasons. First, they're delicious. Second, they often have very limited releases, so securing a bottle or two will show your friend or loved one just how on the ball you really are, and lastly, they continue to age well, sometime for up to three or more years. That way if you gift someone a bottle that gets stashed away for extra aging, every time they look at it, and certainly when they finally choose to drink it, they'll know who to thank. Also you might get a sip.

Here are just a couple of the barrel aged offerings to be found around Southwest Michigan this holiday season.

Saugatuck Brewing Company
2948 Blue Star Hwy, Fennville, MI 49408

Neopolitan Milk Stout: 6.8 percent ABV. Aged nine months in Woodford Reserve and Heaven Hill Barrels. $5 for a 12 oz. bottle.

Sweet, with notes of vanilla, chocolate and light fruit. Oaky, but not overly boozy on the tongue.

Imperial Stout: 9 percent ABV. Aged 13 months in Jim Beam Barrels. $4.50 for a 12 oz. bottle
Big, classic stout accented with smooth bourbon notes.

The Livery
190 5th St., Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Maillot Jaune: 6 percent ABV. Aged one year in Tabor Hill oak wine barrels. $18 for a 750 ml Bottle. Also available on tap for growler and howler fills.

A semi-tart offering with hop notes of citrus and spice. Medium in body, light carbonation.

Beer Tours

Not satisfied sending your loved one to the same brewery every time? Try gifting a ticket to a beer tour.

West Michigan Beer Tours have several public tours lined up over the next few months, including the much anticipated Winter Beer Fest tour to Fifth-Third ballpark in Grand Rapids.

There will also be a 'Hop Showcase' tour during Kalamazoo Beer Week featuring Bonnie Steinman of Hop Head Farms in Hickory Corners.

“We'll be talking bout three different hops, Centennial, Cascade and Citrasays John Liberty, Co-founder of West Michigan Beer Tours. "In between each stop we're going to learn about each hop, both the Michigan grown hop, and the Yakima Valley grown version, and the differences between what the environments do.

"You'll be able to taste different beers that use those hops, some will be Michigan beers some will be from around the US so you'll be able to taste the different variations.”  

West Michigan Beer Tours

Winter Beer Festival Tour
Friday, Feb. 27 
Cost: Standard Ticket: $79 (includes a seat on the bus and a one-day ticket to the event)
Premium Ticket: $94 (all of the above plus a West Michigan Beer Tours T-shirt and pint glass)
Hotel Package: $299 (Includes two seats on the bus, two tickets to the event, a stay at one hotel room at Kalamazoo Radisson Plaza and free breakfast)

Who doesn't like cool brewery gear? Everyone has T-shirts, hats and coozies, but what you really need are these:

Bell's Brewery General Store
355 E Kalamazoo Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49007

Bell's Fisher Stylus Space pen
This is the pen that went to the moon. OK, not this EXACT pen, but you get the point. So even if you tip off the bar stool you'll still be able to write for help. Also has attached rubber capactive stylus used for touch screen, smart phones, and tablets.

Ladies Hand Made Undies
Comes in several Bell's Beer themed styles. I can think of at least one thing these would be perfect for. Undies hand made in Kalamazoo by Kori Jock's La Vie en Orange from Bell's T-shirts that have become outdated. 

Paw Paw Brewing
929 E Michigan Ave, Paw Paw, MI 49079

Michigan Made Flight Tray
Shaped like a mitten and able to hold six beer tasters at once....that's exactly what I look for in a state.

Dark Horse Brewing
511 S. Kalamazoo Ave., Marshall, MI 49068

Woman's Briefs
Comes in a variety of colors and features the Dark Horse logo right where you need it.

Rhino Media's Michigan Beer Film
You may have seen it during the 2014 Kalamazoo Beer Week, now you get the opportunity to watch it any time you please.

Arcadia Ales
103 W. Michigan Ave, Battle Creek, MI 49017
701 E. Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49007

Bowling Shirt
Join a bowling league, wear this shirt. You may not roll well, but hey, everyone will applaud your taste in beer.

Wine and Spirits
Gifts of Wine and spirits can range from the thoughtful and practical up to the remarkably extravagant. Here are two options showcasing both categories. Can you guess which is which?

Round Barn Winery
10983 Hills Road, Baroda, MI 49101

Best Cellars Gift Back
A prepackaged collection of some of the winery's best selling labels. 2 reds, 2 whites, 1 fruit and 1 dessert wine showcase a wide swath of offerings from Round Barn.

Over the Top Shelf spirits set featuring New Holland's Zeppelin Blended Whiskey.

Mouth.com has put together this 22 bottle craft distilled spirits set, featuring boozes from around the country. If you've been wanting to try a bottle of Holland's New Holland spirits for a while but just never felt like pulling the trigger this is your opportunity to pay an extra $950 for that same great experience....while also stocking your cabinet full of bottles you've never heard of.

Mug Club Memberships
If giving the gift of beer is a good idea, then it stands to reason that giving the gift of many, many beers (add the opportunity to make new friends) would be an even better idea.

Several breweries around the area have mug clubs (or variations of such) where for a certain price, you receive benefits only offered to club members. Some have custom-made pints glasses or mugs, others offer year-round discounts, T-shirts, or first crack at limited runs beers.

Here is a sampling of some of these clubs. If you're loved one's favorite brewery isn’t listed below, simply call and ask if they host a club.

Walldorff Brewpub and Bistro Pub Club
105 E. State St. Hastings, MI 49058

Price: $60 for a lifetime membership.

Includes: a T-shirt in your specified size or Walldorff hat if you prefer, a growler with your choice of menu brew (first tier beer only), $2 off any growler purchase at any time for life, 24 oz. pub mugs for only $4 every day (first tier beers). Membership card with discounts on beers and a free munchie or pizza. Monthly food and drink features just for you. Discounts on off-site events and parties. Exclusive member events and discounts on keg prices.

Greenbush Brewing Company
5885 Sawyer Road, Sawyer, MI 49125

Price: $60 lifetime membership
Includes: 20 oz. numbered mug, 50 cents off every imperial pint, half off pints on Mondays, $2 off growler fills on Wednesdays, Invitations to members only events (may or may not come with a vintage "members only" jacket).

Boatyard Brewing Yacht Club
432 E. Paterson St., Kalamazoo Township, MI 49009

Price: Annual membership $40 if purchased before the end of 2014. $50 if purchased in 2015.

Includes: Yacht Club membership is limited to 1,000 members and comes with a bottle opener, $1 off all pints, $2 off all pints from Yacht Club beer of the week tap, $2 off growler fills, $3 for all pints on Tuesdays, 15 percent off all merchandise, and invitations to members only tasting events.

Gonzo's Biggdogg Brewing
140 S Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo, MI 49007

Price: $100 for first year, $75 for each additional year.

Includes: Mug club beginning Jan. 2,  2015 and comes with unique, numbered mug with $1 off all fills. 10 percent off food and merchandise, first mug fill free on your birthday.

Latitude 42 Brewing
7842 Portage Road, Portage, MI 49002

Price: $50 initial buy in, $40 annual renewal.

Includes: Logo T-shirt, pint glass, bumper sticker, growler and club card. $1 off all beers, $2 off all growler fills, 15 percent off retail items, free birthday dessert, entry to VIP events and parties.

Jeremy Martin is the craft brew writer for Southwest Michigan's Second Wave.
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