Here’s the great thing about giving the gift of beer in Crowlers: The longer you delay your shopping trip, the fresher the beer will be when you deliver your gift!
These silver little bundles of joy contain enough delicious brew to fill roughly two pint glasses, making them a supremely manageable way to enjoy fresh beer, even when your giftee is flying solo. In tribute to these perfect beer geek stocking-stuffers, we put together this list of 8 of our extra-giftable Crowlers from around Minnesota (and one from Wisconsin). But first: A few Crowler-related tips:
1: Crowlers should be kept cold for as long as possible
As tempting as it would be to just jam one of these beauties straight into a stocking or leave them wrapped under the tree, you’re going to want to keep Crowlers cold until the moment of consumption for maximum freshness. We recommend placing them in a small gift bag in the fridge and then pulling them out at the last minute.
2: Crowlers should be consumed relatively quickly
When properly sealed and refrigerated, Crowlers have a much longer shelf life than a traditional glass growler—but that doesn’t mean you can keep them in your fridge forever. Ideally, your giftee should drink their present no later than MLK Day, but as long as it’s in the recycling by the end of January, they’ll be just fine.
Want an easy way to gift a taste of every brewery on this list? Give the gift of Winter Beer Dabbler tickets!
Junkyard Brewing Company – Mama’s Trip to Jamaica Rum Punch Sour
Perfect for: The Snowbird
There’s no better way to start this list than with the rockstars of the MN Crowler scene: Junkyard Brewing. Until just a few weeks ago, this Moorhead-based brewery’s inventive, boundary-pushing beer could only be found in Crowlers, and they deserve a ton of credit for making the format as popular as it has become.
We recommend giving their super-unique Mama’s Trip to Jamaica sour to your snowbird relative who lights out for warmer climates the minute that the calendar flips over to November. This beer’s tropical mix of orange, pineapple, lime, and grenadine should help brace them against the cold slap of below-freezing temperatures.
Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative – The Messenger Series Vol. III
Perfect For: The History Buff
Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative’s The Messenger series was created in collaboration with local nonprofit Brewing Change Collaborative as a way to highlight the histories of people of color within the context of craft beer. In Volume III, BCBC and BCC are centering the stories of Indigenous heroes like Ira Hayes and Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte, both of whom are featured on Vol. III’s Crowler artwork.
All of that history is tied into a robust Double IPA, making this an excellent beer for your History Buff relative to sip thoughtfully as they unravel the fascinating stories of the historical figures highlighted on The Messenger series’ accompanying web portal.
Little Thistle Brewing – Sweatuh Weathuh
Perfect for: The Ugly Sweater Devotee
No one is sure when exactly ugly Christmas sweaters made the transition from kitschy thrift-store baggage into a must-have seasonal garment, but this relative has embraced the trend with a bear-hug. Over the years, their ugly sweaters have evolved into head-to-toe statement pieces that sometimes feature lights, props, and catchphrases. Sure, it’s a little extra, but everybody needs a hobby, right?
Since their increasingly complicated outfits don’t always provide the same warmth as the classic wool jumper, you should send this Ugly Sweater Devotee home with a Crowler of Sweatuh Weathuh from Rochester’s Little Thistle. This beer’s 7.4% ABV and warming mix of spices like ginger, molasses, all spice, cinnamon, and star anise make it the perfect toasty treat around the fire.
Inver Grove Brewing Co. – Uncle Bob’s Braggot
Perfect for: The Hop-Hater
Much like how most Minnesota-based families can point to at least one relative that fits the old “Ketchup is too spicy” cliche about Midwestern palates, most beer clans have at least one hop-hater in their fold. For these folks, even mildly hopped pale ales or hoppy lagers contain too much bitterness, so let’s steer them towards a beer that’s just about the furthest thing from an IPA: A Braggot!
Inver Grover brewed this unique and historical cross between mead and beer with a heaping dose of honey, making for a light but still pleasantly malty seasonal sipper that’s free of hop flavor. We can try to change their minds next year.
Back Channel Brewing – Puffy
Perfect for: The Grillmaster
The Grillmaster should be easy to spot at your family gathering. For one, their smoker will already be belching silvery clouds into the sky as you arrive. In years past, you’ve given them thermometers, tongs, mitts, and specialty woodchips. This year, we’re giving them beer!
In the brief window between when they temp the brisket and when the wings need to be sauced and served, you should slip the grillmaster a Crowler of Back Channel’s sublimely smokey Puffy. Based on the traditional German smoked lager style known as Rauchbier that featured smoked barley as part of its grain bill, Puffy is malty, roasty, and full of an unmistakable campfire flavor that your Grillmaster will love.
Earth Rider Brewery – Valhalla Scotch Ale
Perfect For: The Viking Thrall
Perhaps because we live in a state that has both sporting and ethnocultural ties to Nordic lore, you tend to find a lot of Viking superfans in Minnesota. These great-ancestors of the proud Scandinavian clans of yore can be identified by an interest in runes, copious facial hair, and a fascination with all things Viking, from Thor to Viktor.
Earth Rider’s nod to that cannon is their Valhalla Scotch Ale. Strong enough to stagger even the heartiest warrior at 8.6% and full of rich, caramelly malt flavor, this beer still manages to be supremely quaffable, so prepare to get a refill when your relative smashes their tankard and yells, “ANOTHER!” Thankfully, you might actually have enough to sate their thirst, as Earth Rider’s location in Superior, Wisconsin, allows them to package in the slightly larger 32-ounce Crowler size.
Arbeiter Brewing Co. – Spruce Sessionista
Perfect For: The Naturalist
Sold as part of their Holiday Crowler 3-Pack which also features a Chocolate Mint Stout and a Mulled Spice Wee Heavy, Arbeiter’s Spruce Sessionista is a wintery take on their award-winning Sessionista IPA. To complement the spicy, lightly piney Calista hops they used to make this low-ABV IPA, Arbeiter infused fresh-cut blue spruce tips that were flash-frozen and shipped from Colorado just for this brew.
We recommend gifting this evergreen IPA to the Nature-loving relative that can’t help themselves from bringing up their recent birdwatching exploits at the dinner table, or showing you a phone pic of this amazing tree that they saw last week.
OMNI Brewing Co. – Barrel-Aged Superior Siege Weapon
Perfect For: The Slow Sipper
One underrated difficulty of hosting a craft beer Christmas party is the fact that no two people drink at exactly the same pace. While some guzzle suds like they’re dying of thirst, others prefer to sip at a glacial pace, savoring every last ounce as pit passes over their tastebuds.
If you’ve got a slow-sipper at your party, set them up with a Crowler of OMNI Brewing’s titanic barleywine Superior Siege Weapon, newly barrel-aged for their 2021 Hibernation series on Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels. Thanks to its cascade of stong, dark, and boozy flavors, Superior Siege Weapon should keep the slow-sipper occupied all week (though we recommend you help them finish it for maximum freshness).