The holiday-party and gift-giving season is here, ready or not. To assist you in this ordeal, I present the not-quite-annual Free Times gift-giving guide for the beer enthusiast or someone who should be one.
Fine, expensive craft beer tastes and looks better in style-appropriate glassware, and every enthusiast appreciates beautiful glassware that enhances the drinking experience. Brewery glassware is usually available only at the breweries or by mail order, but now an extensive collection of glassware is available at Green’s Beverage Warehouse. Total Wine follows with a good but not as large selection of glassware. And most retailers, including Morganelli’s, offer gift boxes from Petrus, Duvel, Piraat and Chimay that contain an imprinted glass and selection of beers. All of these are outstanding beers that will surprise and amaze anyone who has never tasted them — these are can’t-miss gifts. You can, of course, assemble your own unique gift boxes by picking the glasses and matching them with an appropriate bottle.
Again this year, several breweries are offering beers in giant 3-liter bottles. These are terrific conversation pieces for a gathering or party, and contain some very good beer. Some of the notable examples are Stone’s Double Bastard ale and Thirsty Dog’s 12 Days of Christmas along with several Belgian trappist and abbey ales.
If you are planning a party or expect family or friends to visit, several breweries offer sampler boxes of winter and holiday beers. The samplers from Harpoon, Samuel Adams and Widmer are great values and contain something for just about every beer enthusiast. The Sam Adams Winter Mix contains two bottles of six different beers — two of them, Old Fezziwig Ale and Cherry Chocolate Bock, are apparently available only in the sampler. These are luscious, tasty ales that are perfect for the season.
A gift of tickets to the World Beer Festival in Columbia on Jan. 18 is another can’t-miss gift for anyone with who enjoys beer and a good time. This festival is again at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center and is the chance to sample a wide selection of beers with a like-minded and fun-loving crowd. Tickets are available at Morganelli’s and Green’s for $40, VIP tickets for $85. For the more seasoned and hardy enthusiast, a ticket to Charleston’s Brewvival is a great idea. This outdoor festival is scheduled for Feb. 23 in North Charleston and features a variety of exotic beers personally selected by the organizers. Last year, Woodstock-like weather and conditions at this festival assured Brewvival’s place in beer lore for serious enthusiasts. Tickets are available online for $69.99. (brewvival.com.)
For gifts for friends or colleagues, there are a number of beers, especially Belgian-style beers, that are packaged in elegant cork-finished bottles that will surely surprise and impress the recipients. Browse the shelves of the larger retailers and you will discover some impressively packaged ales. In particular, Gulden Draak 10.5 Brewmaster Edition is extraordinary in its beautiful bottle. Even better is the ale contained in this bottle, a rich Belgian tripel aged in whiskey barrels — an amazing cold-weather delight.
Rodenbach, the Belgian maker of the unique Flemish red style, is offering several beers that are beautifully packaged and contain equally beautiful sour ales. The brewery is now offering unblended, vintage-dated versions of its Grand Cru that are spectacular. Rodenbach’s seasonal offering, Caractere Rouge, is truly amazing. This beer is aged for two years in oak casks (bacteria in the oak creates the sour flavor that is the characteristic of the style), and then whole sour cherries, cranberries and raspberries are added for an extra six months of aging. I enjoyed this with a Thanksgiving feast, and the sweet-sour beer with the perfectly balanced fruit flavors paired delightfully with turkey, ham and all the trimmings. This one will be a terrific appetizer for any meal. Cheers!
A Healthy Happy Hour
4-7 p.m at Good Life Cafe on Main St. Try our $4 local draft beers, $4 organic wine, 1/2 off select bottles of house wine and $5 handcrafted house cocktails with juices cold pressed and made daily. Click here for more info.
New Downtown Dessert and Coffee Bar!
Tony’s Italian Eatery has teamed up with Southern Charm Sweets to bring you the highest quality dessert selection in the downtown area. 1120 Washington St., Suite 2. Find us on Facebook!
Tax-Free Weekend at Best Mattress
With big savings from July 31st-August 2nd, you can afford handcrafted quality. Free bed frame and pillows on any Full, Queen, or King set $599 and above! Click for locations and hours.
Columbia’s Largest Sidewalk Sale
Shop local this tax free weekend! Devine Street and Five Points are teaming up for a massive sidewalk sale featuring great in-store specials from all your favorite retailers and a Saturday art stroll. Read more hereand here!
Relaxation, Pain Management, and Stress Relief
Licensed massage therapist Allison Morris of AMR Massage is offering 50% off your first session and every 5th session free of charge. Click here for location, hours, and more information.
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U.S. Security Associates
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Real Estate Spotlight
Concord Park From the $150’s. Off 12th St. Extension. 803.419.2227. mungo.com
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ST. ANDREWS COMMONS APARTMENTS 1 & 2 BR’s available with many amenities. Close to everywhere YOU WANT TO BE! 1200 St. Andrews Rd., Columbia, SC. Click here for more info.
GABLE HILL APARTMENTS 1, 2 & 3 BR’s available with many amenities. Surround yourself with Southern comforts at Gable Hill Apartments! Bring in our ad in Free Times for $50 off your application fee. 310 Ross Rd, Columbia, SC. Click here for more info.
WATERFORD APARTMENTS 1 & 2 BR’s available with many amenities. Prime location, and plenty of space. Live large at Waterford Apartments. Bring in our ad in Free Times for $50 off your application fee. 1340 Longcreek Dr., Columbia, SC. Click here for more info.
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