gift guide 2018 best expensive craft beers and rare beers
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We’re not suggesting slapping a bow on a six-pack of PBR.  What we are telling you is to consider gifting fancy pants suds that are worth the extra cash. Thanks to the proliferation of craft beer, breweries stateside and abroad are upping their game trying to keep up with the ever increasing demand from beer acolytes who don’t mind throwing down money for really excellent, inventive bottles. All of these beers that follow are over $25, but trust us when we say every beer lover in your life will be happy with any one of these under the tree.

Arman & Gaston by Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen, $39.99 at ShopWine Direct

Brouwerij Drie 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Cuvee Armand & Gaston Lambic 750ml (Belgium)

Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen

While Armand & Gaston used to fall into the impossible-to-find “white whale” camp, 3 Fonteinen has amped up production this year. This means a ticket to Brussels is no longer needed to get it. Any fan of sour beer will want to pucker up to this wild and complex geuze straight outta the Zenne valley. It all starts with lambic, which is beer that is spontaneously fermented by local wild yeast. A&G consists of a cuvee of one, two, and three-year old lambic aged in oak (thus officially making it a geuze) which matures into a hazy, orange-hued masterpiece that is heavy on the barnyard funk with hints of apple and Sauvignon Blanc.See It

Canadian Breakfast Stout by Founders Brewing Co., $72.99 at Woods Wholsesale Wine

Founders Candian Breakfast Stout

Founders Brewing Co.

Michigan-based Founders get an “A” for this brew inspired by our neighbor to the north. CBS begins with an imperial stout blended with chocolate and coffee—hence the “breakfast” moniker. The base beer spends a few months in bourbon barrels which previously aged maple syrup (that’s the “Canadian” part). The end product is sweet and roasted goodness that is sure to provide a nice morning buzz (it is the holidays after all).See It

Etain by The Bruery

The Bruery Etain rare beer

The Bruery

Etain’s 10th edition in The Bruery’s series of birthday bourbon barrel-aged old ales is a product of the solera method. It combines freshly brewed beer along with a bit of each of its predecessors, making it a cheat sheet of sorts to all the anniversary beers that came before it. Expect notes of toffee, plum, a decent amount of alcohol, and an ample dose of history.See It

Deconstructed Bomb! by Prairie Artisan Ales, $33.99 at K&L Wine Merchants

Prairie Artisan Ales Deconstructed Bomb beer

Prairie Artisan Ales

This Oklahoma brewery is known for Bomb!, an in-your-face stout that lives up to its exclamation point. Much of that excitement can be contributed to the harmonious blend of vanilla, coffee, cacao nibs, and chile peppers all of which anchors the beer. Deconstructed Bomb! takes those flavors and separates each one into four distinct bottles anchored by the same imperial stout base used in Bomb! It’s the beer equivalent of when the four members of KISS each released solo albums.  Though not necessarily better than the sum of all parts, each of the variants shines on its own. And thankfully, there’s no Peter Criss in the bunch.See It

Harlan’s Even More Jesus by Evil Twin Brewing, $44.99 at K&L Wine Merchants

Harlan’s Even More Jesus By Evil Twin Brewing

Evil Twin Brewing

Here’s one’s for the beer geek who also happens to be a wine snob. This limited run imperial stout by Evil Twin gets the red wine barrel-aged treatment—but these barrels ain’t just from any old winery. We’re talking Harlan, the cult Napa sensation that puts sommeliers in a tizzy. Bottles of their wine are nearly impossible to come by and if you’re lucky enough to track one down, the cost will be upwards of four figures, making Harlan’s Even More Jesus $45 price tag seem like a relative bargain. Also, those who crave liquid cherry double fudge brownie will be pleased.See It

Samuel Adams Utopias by Boston Beer Company, $199.99 from Total Wine

Sam Adams Utopias rare beer

The Boston Beer Company

Everyone is familiar with Samuel Adams’ mass produced (though technically still “craft”) Boston Lager. Well, this is basically the exact opposite of that. Utopias is unlike any other beer ever produced. It’s a mad scientist’s blend comprised of multiple barrel-aged beers that are up to 16-years-old. That crazy alchemy creates a smooth sipper with zero carbonation that’s reminiscent of a sherry-cognac hybrid. For the record, this one-of-a-kind offering won’t come cheap (it’s nearly $200) though it does come in a snazzy bottle shaped like a copper brew kettle. Plus the beer won’t go bad even after it’s opened so it can be savored for years to come. Another caveat: This heavyweight comes in at a massive 28 percent ABV which means it’s illegal in several states.See It

Caractère Rouge by Brouwerij Rodenbach, $12.04 – $39.99 at Drizly

Caractère Rouge by Brouwerij Rodenbach

Brouwerij Rodenbach

Rodenbach is known for its traditional Flanders ale which falls in the darker, maltier side of the sour beer spectrum. This fruited version, a collaboration with Michelin-starred Belgian chef Viki Geunes, combines raspberries, cherries, and cranberries with beer that has aged for two years in oak casks. An additional six month maceration process allows the fruit to shine but not overwhelm. It’s a perfect combo of sweet and tart that won’t have you seeing red.See It

Bourbon County Brand Midnight Orange Stout by Goose Island Beer Co., $50.04 at Drizly

Goose Island Brewery Bourbon County Midnight Orange Stout

Goose Island Brewery

The annual Black Friday release of Goose Island’s Bourbon County series has beer lovers frantically scavenging liquor stores on the prowl for bottles. While the standard Bourbon County Brand Stout remains popular, the elusive variants which rotate every year are the real prize. 2018 saw the introduction of this bourbon barrel-aged cocoa and citrus stout and it did not disappoint. Tasting remarkably similar to Terry’s Christmas Orange Milk Chocolate, it’s perfect for the holidays. Happy hunting.See It

Cherion by Superstition Meadery, $50 at Superstition Meadery

Superstition Meadery Cherion 2018

Superstition Meadery

Sorry (not sorry), but mead is hot right now, especially with beer drinkers. Once you try a sip of that sweet, sweet honey wine, you’ll be craving more—especially when it comes from Superstition. Cherion is some of the best of what the award-winning meadery has to offer. It combines local Arizona wildflower honey mead with a blackberry, raspberry, and blueberry juice trio along with some tart Colorado pie cherries for good measure. The whole shebang is then aged in bourbon barrels which previously housed Iridium Flare, a marionberry braggot (basically a beer and mead hybrid) that Superstation concocted with equally-esteemed Anaheim brewery Bottle Logic.See It

Sahalie by The Ale Apothecary, $26.99 at ShopWine Direct

Ale Apothecary Sahalie


Though only six years old, Ale Apothecary produces some of the best wild ales in the country. Case in point: their flagship beer Sahalie, which spends up to a year in oak barrels. Continuous dry-hopping provides an earthy, hoppy aroma as the beer develops a pleasant fruity tang thanks to house-cultured lactobacillus (the same bacteria found in yogurt). There’s definitely a lot going on with this beer but that’s a good thing—think hints of tropical fruits, banana, oak, and fresh scones. Though barely hovering below double-digit ABV this one goes down easy.See It

If you have a hard time tracking down the beer you’re after, see what’s available on Saucey, which delivers beer, wine, spirits, and more straight to your door. Select areas can also get free 30 minute delivery (with no order minimum requirement).

For more great gift ideas, check out our Gourmet Food and Drink Gift Guides, and our Kitchen Gadgets, Tools, and Appliances Gift Guide.

Related Video: 10 New High-Alcohol Craft Beers to Warm Your Bones This Fall and Winter

All featured products are curated independently by our editors. When you buy something through our retail links, we may receive a commission. For more great hand-picked products, check out the Chowhound Shop.

Header image courtesy of Founders Brewing Co.

David is a food and culture writer based in Los Angeles by way of New York City. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, CBS Local, Mashable, and Gawker.
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