Friday, November 27, 2009

Useful Beery Gift Ideas: Magazine Subscriptions.

This blog has always had two goals: (1) to entertain me, and (2) to be useful to you. And you know what's really useful this time of year? Well, yes, a flask of hard liquor. Besides that. Gift ideas. And another really useful thing: magazines. Also: italics.

What I like best about magazines is portability. On the coffee table, by the bedside lamp, rolled up in your coat pocket, on the plane, in the can. Nothing quite like a glossy collection of recent knowledge, pretty pictures, and targeted advertising. Preferably with a few jokes or cartoons. I also like the fact that they are not very expensive. And even though you know it's coming every month, or every other month, or every quarter, or whenever... it's always a pleasant surprise.

So now this useful blog will do something useful and suggest you make yourself useful and buy something useful for your loved ones: beer magazines. Or print this out and leave it somewhere for your significant other to find. I'll make it easy: Links and (U.S.) prices below.

The Ale Street News is a rag in the best sense of the word. It's newspaper format makes it look like you are reading something quasi-serious. Just the thing for carrying under your arm into the office, with coffee mug in hand and pencil behind your ear. (You don't know that trick? Stick a pen or pencil behind your ear. People will think you're working really hard.) Price is $18.95 for six issues.

All About Beer is the distinguished elder lady among beer mags. She's still pretty hot for an old gal, and maybe the all-around best-written beer mag out there. Burt Reynolds was on the cover once. I wish they would put him on again, for old time's sake. One year is $19.99, two is $37.99, and three is $53.99. It's bimonthly.

Beer Advocate has a stated mission to support craft beer and a bustling online community to back it up. Friend of the Blog Tim Webb has a column in there now. I think he really wants to piss people off but so far, I think, everyone's nodding their head and saying, "Oh yeah, good point." It's also monthly, which is more than most of the other magazines can say. One year will run you $29.99.

The ambitious Beer Connoisseur hits newsstands December 8 and begins as a quarterly. Its first cover is gorgeous. One year costs $21, but two years ($38) or "lifetime" ($90 for 80 issues) gets you a free hat or T-shirt.

BEER Magazine is published by CAMRA in the U.K. (There's also an American magazine simply called BEER, but it's kind of silly and I'm going to ignore it.) The British one is included in the annual CAMRA membership of £20 ($33).

Brew Your Own is homebrewing geekery, raw and uncut. It reminds me of the muscle car magazines my dad used to get — except instead of technical photos of suped-up engines, you get technical photos of suped-up brew systems. The latest issue, for example, shows us a fully automated system three guys built in a garage, complete with computer touch-screen. They wear matching uniforms. It is hilarious and awe-inspiring. Eight issues for $28, or 16 for $44. Add $5 for Canada or $17 for further abroad.

Celebrator Beer News has an annual Brewers Swimsuit Issue, with lots of pasty-looking topless men who don't get outside much. Don't let that put you off. It has a West Coast perspective but does a fair job of covering the international scene. Costs $19.95 for one year or $29.95 for two.

DRAFT has a special place in my heart. It cemented this place when it recently "bought a beer" for my hero Ben Olsen. DRAFT is also one of the prettiest mags on the market and is invariably a fun read. It's also very good at getting B-list celebrities to pretend they're into craft beer. One year of six issues costs $19.99. Two years costs $29.99.

What's Brewing is CAMRA's newpaper, also included in that £20 ($33) membership. Remember that supporting real ale does not necesaarily mean that you oppose deliciously fresh craft beer delivered via CO2.

Zymurgy is the magazine of the American Homebrewers Association. It's prettier and more approachable than BYO, and slightly less geeky I think. Your $38 per year includes AHA membership and, if given as a gift, a free book. International memberships (including the magazine) are also available, starting at $44 yearly.

Just the same, I'd like to see more jokes and cartoons all around.

RIP, Beers of the World.


  1. I agree. More jokes are needed.

    Just a bit more info about Zymurgy. I have an international membership and have had some problems getting the mag. It does eventually make it, but it takes a while. At least the AHA customer service is excellent. Oh, and it's a bi-monthly magazine and one I enjoy.

  2. I second the Beer Connoisseur magazine recommendation. OK, maybe I'm just a leetle bit biased.

  3. Beer subscriptions as a gift - excellent. Well, to be honest, beer subscriptions as such are great.

    With one "minor" fault - eventhough some of those magazines' management /marketing divisions offer shipping overseas, no one there seems to read e-mails (or they just don't give a f...?) in which a possible subscriber kindly asks them to let him know the p&p costs for the "old" continent (i.e. Europe).