Best gifts come in small packages

Earlier this holiday season, I wasn’t alone in thinking about gifting and regifting beer. Veteran beer writer Peter LaFrance, stating that “gifting and re-gifting are art forms,” posted on his blog about “The Gift of Beer.”

Running through virtually every family member on your list, he had the following suggestions (bold font is editor’s own)

Your brother-in-law’s wife not a beer geek: This is perhaps the easiest one… a 250 mL bottle of the Belgian Kriek beer. Suggest that she serve it in champagne flutes and guests will be wondering what the wonderful wine that they are serving is called…

Your in-laws: …If they have been known to indulge, a 250 mL bottle of a Russian Imperial Stout, or a barley wine. Tell them that it is not for immediate consumption, rather it is to be saved and savored at another time. There are affirmative a psychological reasons for offering it that way.

So now, with 2011 hurdling to a close and 2012 getting ready to unfurl before us, keep in mind that when it comes to thoughtfulness, less is less and more is more, but when it comes to enjoying great beer, sometimes less is more. And while some beers are best saved for another day, here’s to hoping you savor everything else in the here and now.

Happy (small) Brew Year,



Big Eddy. Little bottle.

Schnits of Leinies

Recently, I received awesome samples from Tenth & Blake (MillerCoors) of Leinie’s Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stouts (one aged in bourbon barrels, the other in rye whiskey). Awesome both because of the contents as well as the packaging: 7-oz nips, each hand-dipped in wax to ensure years of non-oxidized maturation should I have the willpower.

I just learned that Leinie’s released the Big Eddy RIS, but with some notable differences. 1) It’s not barrel aged. 2) It’s in 4-packs of 12-oz bottles, NOT nips.

Per her tweet, apparently Tenth & Blake’s Lisa Zimmer is to blame!

Where does a beer like this fit into the Leinenkugel history of brewing? Stay tuned for an excerpt of my discussion with the Leinies about just such a beer.

Yours in appreciation of nips,


Taking the mystery out of nips

NC's forthcoming Mystery Brewing

Yesterday on the Aleheads podcast, a site whose very motto is “They’re ALL session beers” (which is what we say a nip bottle of a 14% R.I.S. becomes), they interviewed Erik Lars Myers who is prepping to launch Mystery Brewing. Erik is a brewer and drinker after our own heart, which we discovered during his discussion about his plans for packaging his beers. Below is an excerpt from the podcast.
Erik Lars Myers: My goal is to never sell a 6-pack…I’m more than happy to be in growlers…or special 750s…Long run, if I get a bottling line, I wanna do 7-ounce bottles and do them in 4 packs.
Aleheads: Hm. (Ed’s note: you can hear the interviewer’s bewilderment, possibly consternation) …You mean for the higher gravity stuff?
ELM: Anything. When I go out to the bar what I really want is a half pint. I often don’t want to drink an entire 16-ounce pint of a beer. I’d love to try 11 beers tonight. I don’t want to do that 16 ounces at a time…If I could drink half pints everywhere I’d be really happy. And I think people would go for a nice, cheap 4-pack of small bottles.
Aleheads: And feel like a giant.
From here, Erik mentioned that Rogue and Flying Dog used to bottle high gravity beers in nips but that  even sessionable stuff like cream ales (a la Little Kings Cream Ale, which is sold in nips in the Midwest and East Coast) would do well in smaller portions. He concluded, “(That’s) not a small amount of beer. Seven ounces is really decent.”

Bottiglia piccola

Italian for tiny bottle de cafe

When we popped into PastaWorks–an Italian-style grocery store that carries high end items from meats to produce to imported goods at equally high end prices–we just wanted a little pick-me-up. Something fizzy would be nice, but who’d pay $3 for some imported sparkling water? The low-sugar iced teas were appealing, but would they have enough caffeine?

The answer took shape in a bottle of a coffee soda called simply Frizz Coffee. It was on the pricy side, but it was exactly what we were craving. Not until we were outside the store drinking it did we realize what was so great about it besides the contents. At 180 ml, or 6-point-one ounces, we believe this is the tiniest bottled beverage we’ve ever seen. A good 29 ml more diminutive than a traditional “nip.”

Well done, Italian craft java/soft drink maker, well done.