Some might argue that with a whole year's worth of beer ephemera, beer stories, beer events, beer tastings and general beer ramblings to contend with, the last thing that should find its way winkled into our beer-lover's Christmas stocking is anything beer-related. But it's such a joy to see their little faces light up when they open something moderately interesting and beery that I can't resist.
Previous years have seen some modest successes (the customised beer labels I stuck onto a special IPA were particularly fine, as were the Pete's Bar coasters that still appear at parties) and, about 3 Christmasses ago, one spectacular backfire. Mr PBBB had been banging on endlessly about Sam Adams Utopias which, for the uninitiated, is, er, a nice strong beer that costs a lot. That's if you can actually get hold of a bottle. It's as rare as hens' teeth. That particular year, I was reliably informed, you were lucky to get your hands on a bottle on Ebay for less than £200, such was its rarity value. Now I love an impossible challenge more than most, so I scoured the internet determined to find one single bottle that I could present to Mr PBBB on Christmas Day, thus sprinkling some fairy dust on all of our lives.
Imagine my surprise and hand-clapping delight when I found out that Shepherd Neame had actually got a small consignment that meant, for £60 plus p&p, one rare, exclusive bottle could be mine. I had it furtively shipped to my mate Joan's and allowed myself a little chuckle every day as I prepared for the big reveal.
One afternoon, just before Christmas, I came home to find a big box in the hall. I took one look at the shipping label and squeaked 'what's this?', apparently loud enough even for humans to hear. 'You'll never guess!', said Mr PBBB, wrongly. 'TWO bottles of Sam Adams Utopias!"
I won't share my response online, in case you get some sort of 'Parental control protocols breached. Please report obscene content' alert pop up on screen, but you get the gist.
Anyway, this year I found this lovely company who make soaps made with some very nice beers indeed. And these aren't just any 'beer soaps'. You know, when the categories include 'witbiers', 'pilsners', 'bocks' and ales', that these guys know their stuff. And you also know, if Mr PBBB opens a gift of 'San Francisco Beer, made with Anchor Steam California Common Steam Ale' that at the same time he's saying 'Oh, lovely, yep, I love it, great', he's thinking 'I'd rather drink it, not wash in it'.
I'm not sure if they come labelled 'do not lick', just in case, but they look jolly good and the shipping costs from the US aren't too bad. If anyone fancies joining me in a bulk order, let me know.
I'm on the look out for other beery gifts that aren't too ghastly and which are allowed into our home (nothing with a big beery logo, branded t-shirts, more bloody beer glasses etc).
And if there are any beer guys reading this, don't get any ideas. We prefer our toiletries from (worst) John Lewis or (best) Penhaligons.