image001.jpgOh man, I totally dropped the ball on this. A few of us local St. Louis food bloggers were asked to put a list together of our top ten local holiday gifts. I was supposed to be one of those people to post my list yesterday, but as you can see I forgot. These people did not forget though, so please be sure to check out their choices for gifts this holiday season:

As for my choices, follow after the jump.

Baileys’ Chocolate Bar – 2004 La Folie

If you’re a beer nerd/snob you’re well aware that some beers really start to come into their own after an extended aging period. La Folie is one of those beers. But if you weren’t lucky or patient enough to have a bottle of this fine beer, Baileys’ Chocolate Bar has you covered. Baileys’ is the only restaurant (that I currently know of, please feel free to correct me) in town that ages beers. If you’re interested in a vertical tasting they also sell the 2005 and 2006 La Folies as well. I’ve heard they’re down to a few cases left of the 2004, so this may be your last chance to pick up this one of a kind beer.

Whole Foods – 2005 Gouden Carolus Grand Cru of the Emperor

A few weeks ago I stopped into the Wine and Cheese Place in Clayton and had a chance to try a 2006 bottle of the Gouden Carolus Grand Cru, it was so fantastic that I picked up a few bottles immediately. Later that afternoon I stopped by Whole Foods and had a chance to talk to Andy, their beer purchaser. During the conversation I told him how enamored I was with the 2006 Grand Cru. It was then that he dropped a bombshell on me that he still had some 2005 available. Of course I snatched some up as quickly as possible. I had a chance to drink some on Thanksgiving and it was even more beautiful than I could remember the 2006 being.

Once again this is one of those very limited items on my list, Andy only has a few bottles left. As with most of the really, really good beers at Whole Foods, this isn’t sitting out on the shelf. You’ll need to ask Andy or any of the other beer guys at Whole Foods to get it out from the back for you.

Randall’s Wine and Spirits – O’Fallon Sampler Pack

Maybe you’re just warming up to beer. Maybe you don’t know where or how to start? Well a sampler pack of O’Fallon Brewery’s beer from Randall’s is your ticket into the world of craft beer. The sampler packs will change from season to season so you’ll never know what you’re going to get. Maybe you’ll get their Smoked Porter or maybe you’ll get their 5-Day IPA? Whatever you’ll get will be a great representation of different beer styles from a fantastic St. Louis brewery.

Worm’s Way – Homebrew Kit

You know you’ve been curious. You’ve heard other people talking about it but you don’t know where to start. Well here’s your chance to learn how to homebrew. Worm’s Way provides all of the gear you’ll need to get started on this wonderful and time-consuming hobby. Don’t know a carboy from a barley mill? Well the folks and Worm’s Way can help you figure out what’s best for you and get you onto the path of ignoring your loved ones in the search of making the best beer possible.

After you get started, make sure to visit any of the local homebrew clubs like First Capital Brewers or St. Louis Brews to learn from some of the best homebrewers in St. Louis.

The Wine and Cheese Place – St. Bernardus Sampler Pack

Brouwerij St. Bernardus is one of the best breweries in the world. Want proof? All you need to do is purchase one of their sampler packs from The Wine and Cheese Place in Clayton. The 6 pack includes each of one of the following beers:

  • Abt 12
  • Abt 8
  • Pater 6
  • Tripel
  • Watou Tripel
  • Wit

It doesn’t matter if they’re a novice or experienced, this is something any beer enthusiast would be happy to see under the tree on Christmas morning.

Kent Roberts – Sacks of Malt

You’ve done it, you’ve made the leap to all-grain homebrewing. One of the biggest advantages of all-grain homebrewing, besides the total control you have over your beer, is the price drop on raw ingredients. Buying and crushing whole grain is considerably cheaper than having to buy malt extract each time. One of the ways to save even more money is to buy your base malts in 55lbs sacks. Kent Robertson in St. Louis provides quite a service to all of us homebrewers and allows us to buy malt for pennies on the dollar. Email Kent and he’ll be happy to put you on his mailing list and he’ll give you all the info you need to start buying your grain in bulk.

Lukas Liquor – Glassware

Drinking beer out of the wrong kind of glass is like watching one of those first person roller coaster movie clips. Sure it almost seems like you’re on the coaster, but you’re missing out on the experience if you’re not strapped in going 70 miles an hour. The proper glassware can take your beer drinking to a whole other level. The aromas and the tastes just get lifted and now you’re on that coaster going 70 miles an hour. Lukas Liquor carries a ton of assorted glassware and if you’re unsure about what glass goes with what beer, any of their experts will be happy to point you in the right direction. Soon your tongue and nose will feel like they just jumped the tracks on the Screaming Eagle.

St. Louis Brewery Tap Room – 2006 Oak Aged Barleywine

Oh sure, Bill Burge will try and point you to the 2007 Bourbon Imperial Stout and he’s not wrong, that’s a fantastic beer. But if you’re looking for the money melon of the Schlafly oak aged line, the 2006 Barleywine is the way to go. The hops really dropped out and the malt character moves forward. It’s a wonderful silky sweetness with a really complex malt character. Lucky enough for you you can still find the 2006 Barleywine at the Tap Room.

St. Louis Wine and Beermaking – Kegging Supplies

I’ve discussed this in the past, but one of the most annoying parts of homebrewing is bottling. You need to wash and clean and sanitize every single bottle before you can move your beer in there. Then after your beer is in, you have to wait another 1 to 2 weeks before it the yeast and priming sugar do their work and you have a carbonated beer that’s ready to drink. If you find you’ve grown a bit dissatisfied with the hobby, it’s time to start kegging. Dave at St. Louis Wine and Beermaking can help you get all of the equipment you need.

With kegging, there is only one big “bottle” to clean and sanitize. Rack your beer into the keg, add some CO2 and withing 4-5 days you have a beer that is fully carbonated and ready to drink. Not only that, how cool is it when you have draught beer to serve to your friends at any time? After the first time you keg, you’ll wonder how you lived without it for so long.

St. Louis Breweries – Beer Tours

Sometimes the best things in life are free. If you’re under some budget concerns this holiday season, why not consider putting together a day of beer tours for your favorite beer enthusiast? Anheuser-Busch, Schlafly and O’Fallon all offer free tours of their facilities and free samples of their products at the end. I personally can’t get enough of beer tours. No matter how many times I’ve been on these tours I still love seeing the process. Making beer is as much art as it is science and our local breweries have both down pat.

These are just some of the suggestions I have for you. St. Louis is a town with such a rich beer heritage that sometimes it can get to be a bit overwhelming. Hopefully you can use this list to make that beer geek in your life a little bit happier.