My wife has been asking me what I want for Christmas for the past couple of weeks. Unable to come up with anything I really need and unsuccessful in convincing her to let me dig an underground steam room on our .19 acre lot, I turned to the interwebs for guidance. Sadly, asking Google for beer geek gifts returns little more than lists of beer…and USB drive bottle openers. For coders, the outlook is equally bleak. Apparently, I am into novelty t-shirts and coffee mugs with sayings like “PHP = Pretty Hot Programmer”…and USB drive bottle openers.
So, to help all you beer geek and, uh, regular geek better halves out there, I’ve come up with a quick list of gift ideas for this holiday season.
BEER GEEK GIFTS
Join the Club - Many pubs offer mug clubs, where patrons pay a yearly fee for a reduced price pint and/or a larger pour. Unfortunately, most of these clubs have a limited number of spots and many have years-long waiting lists. Sometimes you get lucky though.
Locally, the pub inside the Kick City indoor soccer arena has a mug club with available openings. For $25 per year, you get your own 20 oz mug and a reduced price. While Kick City doesn’t have the widest variety of taps, there is usually something on from Hop Valley and the Ninkasi brewed house beer, Turf Monster, isn’t too shabby.
16 Tons also offers something similar, their Patrons Club. For $25 per year, you receive 10% off all on and off premise sales, a monthly newsletter with coupons and priority for special events, tastings and releases.
Outside of Eugene, you are on your own. Call a few of your beer geek’s favorite bottleshops or pubs and see what is available.
Take a Class – Everyone loves to learn, right? So, why not help your beer geek continue their education? In the last few months, Oakshire has hosted a couple beer and cheese pairing classes and more recently, a beer and meat pairing class.
16 Tons has started hosting Sake 101 classes, a great introduction for people unfamiliar with the drink. Most of these classes are very limited, so check with your local breweries, bottleshops and bars/restaurants for upcoming sessions.
Some Vertical Action - Pick one of your beer geek’s favorite special release brews and buy several bottles. Give your geek one bottle and squirrel away the rest. Then repeat this process each year, gifting one newly purchased bottle and one of each previous vintage. Starting at year two, your geek will be able to do their own vertical tasting, comparing the beers side-by-side. While this gift takes some commitment, it also provides you an easy out for years to come.
If you are unsure where to start, ask your local bottleshop for suggestions. Off the top of my head, Deschutes Abyss would be a good choice, as would Dissident, although released a little less frequently. There’s Firestone Walker’s Anniversary Ale for you big spenders and Anchor’s Our Special Ale for those with a more modest budget. Damn, looks like I did end up giving a list.
Get Kinected – The XBOX 360 Kinect will no doubt be a popular gift this year, but what makes it so enticing to coders? Open-source drivers. At the beginning of November, electronics DIY site Adafruit held a contest to create open-source drivers for the device. Hours later Spanish open-source advocate Hector Martin released a driver, ushering in the era of Kinect hacking.
KinectHacks.net has become the unofficial compendium of these DIY projects, with works ranging from area-mapping Roombas to software that draws a bra on anyone who stands topless in front of the camera. Phil Spencer, VP of Microsoft Game Studios has also stated that Indie Games will get Kinect support in the future, allowing XBOX developers to write software that interacts with the device.
There Can Only be Uno – Uno is the latest version of the Arduino, replacing the Demilanove. The biggest upgrade to this incarnation is the automatic power source detection, no longer requiring a jumper to move between USB and DC. It is also fully compatible with all Demilanove and Diecimilla code, libraries and shields.
Currently, Adafruit is offering free Rubber Bumpers with each Arduino purchased, handy for keeping the dining room table from damaging your board, and vice versa.
Inside the Box – Heard of Pandora? No, not the internet radio service, the open-source gaming handheld. Born out of conversations on the GP32X.com forums, Pandora is a true community effort. The TI OMAP3530 driven handheld features 256MB of DDR RAM, 512MB of NAND Flash, dual SDHC card slots, Bluetooth, 802.11g wireless, 800*480 LCD touch screen, TV-out, full QWERTY, dual analog thumbsticks and runs a tweaked version of Angstrom-Linux.
The first batch of Pandoras (~4,000 units) is already sold out, but OpenPandora.org is taking preorders for batch two, $349.
Well, I hope this guide has given you some idea, or at least steered you away from the novelty t-shirts. If any of you geeks out there (of either persuasion) have gift ideas you would like to share, feel free do so. I still need to figure out what to ask for myself. Residential windmill has a nice ring to it…then again, I am a pretty hot programmer.