HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >


Buying Beer as a Gift

I'd like to buy some beer as a gift for a friend who has volunteered to spend the upcoming weekend working on a construction project. My thought is to get a couple of extremely delicious, possibly local, varieties. What I'm going for is something indulgent, after all his hard work and also something a little obscure, so it would be like a mini-tasting (gulping?) of some makers he might not already have tried.

I'm sure some beer-drinking hounds must be able to chime in with suggestions for products that might fit the bill. (Maybe the kinds of bottled/canned beer you'd want if you were selflessly laboring in the sweltering heat?) Also, is there a liquor store that has a particularly strong selection of beer? I'd like to make this one-stop shopping.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. If you want to keep it to local varieties, I would stick with offerings from Smuttynose and Berkshire Brewing Co. What are his favorite styles? There are many out there. I would suggest going out to Juliio's in Westboro. They have an amazing selection and the beer manager can help guide you through the many offerings. If you want to stick to someplace in the Boston area, I would suggest Wine Gallery on Route 9. Ask for Kai (beer manager). Also, a great place to start some research is BeerAdvocate Good luck!


    1. I drink a lot of beer (hey, someone has to do it) and make my own batches, so I've tried a lot of what is out there. Some local ones (or regional) that really stand out, IMO, are:

      Otter Creek Stovepipe Porter
      Hennepin Ale
      Ipswich Ale
      Harpoon UFO
      Tuckerman Headwall Alt

      And two that are not local, but always satisfy greatly, are Samuel Smith Pale Ale and Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout.

      Two places that I go to that have great beer selections are Mall Liquors in Cambridge (Fresh Pond) and Andover Liquors in Andover.

      1. I would look into some Begian style beer. They seem to fly out of our fridge when we have company. Also Trader Joe's has knowledgable beer staff at the Coolidge Corner location plus you can expect to pay less there.

        5 Replies
        1. re: ginnyhw

          I think dogfish IPA ice cold will do just fine.

          1. re: OLDCHEF

            i second that. go for the 90 minute. the 120 minute is a bit much. 60 minute is good but the 90 minute is just remarkable.

            1. re: cambridgeMike

              The 90 minute isn't exactly a cool, refreshing beer that might be enjoyed after a hard day of labor. For that, I'd recommend the 60 minute. 90 minute is best enjoyed slowly.

              1. re: JoeM

                Depending on how grateful the OP is, maybe a six pack of each?
                I agree that Downtown liquors in Davis sq is great for their beer selection.

                1. re: Bluebell

                  Nitpick- It would be a 6 pack of 60 and 4 pack of 90. Total damage should be about $17+/- $2.

        2. Davis Square Liquors has an outstanding selection of beers. Their staff is quite knowledgeable and will be able to direct you to the appropriate selection.

          Another idea is to take your friend to Publik House in Brookline for a few rounds.

          2 Replies
          1. re: gini

            Do you mean Downtown Liquors in Davis Square or is there another beer store I need to check out (he says hopefully)?

            1. re: DavisSquare

              Sorry DavisSquare, that's the one I'm talking about. I also really like the owner of Ball Square Liquors. If you are at all into Greek wine, this is your store.

          2. One problem is that some of the "best," most expensive beers are acquired tastes. They tend to be high in alcohol, high in calories, and/or not like beer at all. Davis Square Liquor has some bottles for $30 that your friend could absolutely abhor. A couple of days ago I drank a bottle of A Le Coq imperial stout. The best way I can think to describe the flavors is as a combination of worcestershire sauce and aged balsamic vinegar.

            Nonetheless, I will list some beers that are easy to like yet special: Duvel, Orval, Celebrator, many hefeweizens (e.g., Paulaner, Weihenstephaner), and some IPAs (Smuttynose is a fine local choice). Throw in a bottle of Rochefort 10 if you want to add something prestigious but possibly inaccessible. For a "dessert beer," Lindeman's Framboise is delicious and easy to find.

            You can get most or all of these beers at Wine and Cheese Cask in Somerville, Davis Square Liquors in Davis Square, or Marty's in Allston.

            7 Replies
            1. re: aventinus

              Excellent point... perhaps if you let us know which beer(s) he usually drinks you'll get the most useful suggestions.

              I'd add Allagash White to aventinus's list and maybe subtract the IPA suggestion (I love IPAs but many of my friends do not).

              1. re: po_boy

                if you can find the Anderson Valley Boont (not local) I would suggest trying it. I found it at the Wine and Cheese Cask, but I have a feeling that they may not carry it anymore. Long Trail also has a few good selections.

                1. re: lennyb

                  I love Anderson Valley beers. They sell a couple of different kinds at Marty's Liquor in Newton on Washington Street. I believe they also have the Boont. The seasonal one right now is the Summer Solstice. It's a bit sweet, but I love it!

                  1. re: beerbelly

                    Also, available at the Wine Gallerys both Fenway and Brookline, the later is having a tasting tonight which involves Anderson Valley I believe.

                2. re: po_boy

                  I agree that white beers are a good call and IPAs are more questionable (I would still include one in a beer basket I got for someone). Allagash white is fine and very difficult to dislike. I prefer Southampton double white, which is available at Davis Square Liquors.

                  1. re: po_boy

                    This is not my area of expertise, but DH prefers IPAs and I am more apt to choose a Pilsner type. We both enjoy Otter Creek Copper Ale. The case box has a very nice line drawing of Otter Creek in Vermont, so it looks like a gift. I have given it as a gift before, and it has always been appreciated!

                    Perhaps something thirst quenching to enjoy after the work is done and a case to take home?

                    1. re: chowfamily

                      Just saw your rec for Otter Creek Copper Ale, big-time yup! This is also my favorite Vt. brew, period. A session ale that is always in my fridge in Vt. As good as it is in bottle, you should seek it out on tap. The closest in taste and style I've found to the OC is Casco Bay's Rip-tide Red, It's my go-to brew whenever I'm is The State-O-Maine. It's a lot tougher to find in Ma. than OC. Julio's in Westboro is the closest place to me, in Wayland, that I know of.

                3. My first question to you would be where are you located? I wouldn't offer any "exotics" without knowing your friends tastes. Secondly, lots of people who like to quaff good beers & ales a lot, meaning me, don't nescessarily want to swill it down while working. They savor it after the task is done or are at least finished for the day.You've gotten a lot of responses in a very short time but it would help in making recs.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Harp00n

                    I have some experience in this area. My first, and most important recommendation is work first, drink later. Especially if it is hot. Or if using power tools. You will get a lot more work done if you stick to this schedule.

                    For after working, I would recommend the Harpoon Hefenwiezen (sp?) served with a slice of lemon. Great to quench a thirst. For a gift, my single favorite beer is the Dogfish head 90 minute IPA ($10/4pack). The 120 minute is too expensive for me to really enjoy ($10 per bottle) and doesn't really taste like beer. If you want to put together an interesting selection, Marty's has a wide selection - you could select a theme and put together a selection.

                    1. re: tdaaa

                      Shame on me for not mentioning the safety aspect also.
                      Obtw, I absolutely agree with you on the 90min.vs.120min.

                      1. re: Harp00n

                        It's not so much safety as slowness. I had a bunch of guys over to help carry drywall to the third floor - all went well until they started drinking, then nothing much got done.

                        1. re: tdaaa

                          Well if that power tool is a Stihl chainsaw with a 24" bar, like the one I'll be using in Vt. this weekend, it is an issue.

                  2. Well if he's doing construction I’m sure he's going to be losing a lot of water. Don't get anything high in alcohol content. Sam Adam's Summer Ale is what I would want if I was laboring in the heat. But of course I would always rather have my favorite, Erdinger Weissbier in the .5L bottles. The large Kappy’s carries it? Forget which town it’s in specifically. And don’t get Harpoon UFO, it completely lacks the fruity flavor of any German Hefeweizen. It’s my only guess why Americans add fruit slices to their beer.

                    Remember, you want something that will quench his thirst, not something that'll leave him with a huge headache.

                    1. Wow, everyone! I'm totally floored by all these thoughtful, helpful responses. Thank you!

                      To give a little more information and to clarify: The work he's doing isn't for me (I just thought the work experience would be more pleasant if he had something terrific to look forward to after), and the project is on the Cape (so suggestions for where to get a drink after won't work as a substitute for liquor stores). Pricewise, I'd like to stay under about $50.

                      He's not a big beer drinker *except* after a hard day of physical labor (I don't think he'd be drinking as he went), so I don't know really know his taste in beers. It occurs to me that it might help to describe his other alcohol preferences since maybe there's some common theme among them that would enable someone to predict his taste in beer. His favorite wines are Oregon Pinot Noirs; his standard cocktail is a Ketel One martini, very dry; he likes a good Scotch (like a 21 year old Springbank); and often orders a mojito on a very hot day.

                      In terms of liquor store location, places in Watertown, Newton, Brookline and thereabouts are easiest, but there seem to be a lot of votes for Davis Square, and I don't mind driving there (or even a little further) if that's where they'll have the best selection.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: peelmeagrape

                        In these circumstances I would agree that hydration is essential, and a cold case of his favorite water, or a huge five-gallon type thermos of iced decent tap water would be very helpful, if not already provided on site. Tasty snacks to go with it will likely be appreciated. Any co-workers would likely enjoy them as well.

                        The heat has not broken yet, so water (during the day) seems likely to be appreciated along with beer (after work).

                        All of these should be affordable and available at any decent place local to you.

                        1. re: peelmeagrape

                          Marty's on the Allston/Brookline border (intersection of Commonwealth and Harvard Ave, cattycorner to Shanghai Gate) is on par with Davis Square.

                        2. If you are already going to Downtown in Davis Square, this new store is not far away (in East Arlington, on Broadway, not far over the Somerville line)) and is having a tasting tonight. I'm not affiliated with it, but my spouse has gone and said it was small, but with a good selection.

                          Menotomy Beer & Wine
                          Friday 4-7pm Micro Brew & Hard Cider Tasting

                          Local brewery Berkshire will be showcasing their line up including Lost
                          Sailor India Pale Ale, Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale and their Traditional Pale
                          Ale. Many of you have requested that we carry this particular beer so we
                          tried it and you were right... it is fantastic!

                          Woodchuck will be on hand with their selections of hard ciders including
                          Amber, Granny Smith Apple and Pear. These hard ciders are perfect on a hot
                          summer night!

                          We already know that the Long Trail Summer Survival Pack is a favorite of
                          many of our customers. We will have the whole series on tap (or rather in
                          the bottle) including their Blackberry Wheat, IPA, Ale, and Brewmaster Mix.

                          Of course there will be peanuts and pretzels to go with the beer selections.
                          It should be a fun night so come in and join us!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Bluebell

                            Friday as in Today? Man, I've got to drive or I'd so be there.

                          2. In addition to beer, I recently got a birthday gift of 4 Sam Adams Boston Larger Pint Glasses. I can't tell you how much I enjoy drinking my beer out of these glasses. The thickness and shape of the glass is making me enjoy my beer much more. I'm not sue if it taste any better drinking beer out of these glasses, because the beer tasted pretty good to begin with, but it definitely elevates the craft beer drinking experience.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Infomaniac

                              Can you let us know what you ended up getting?

                              I'd also like to give shout-out to some Quebec beers, the Unibroues tend to be a little on the heavier side but really interesting (my current favourite is the Maudite) and Boreale has some good "working in the sun" beers that are particularly refreshing, if a tad on the sweet side.

                              1. re: sailormouth

                                Folks, please head to the Beer board to continue discussion on great beers. We'd like to keep this board focused on where to find great beer in the Boston area. Thanks.

                                1. re: sailormouth

                                  Absolutely! I was planning to report back but wanted to be able to say more about what he thought of the various beers (he's only tried a few so far but is enjoying them.) The gift went over even better than I'd hoped and was a lot of fun to put together, too, since I got to explore a part of the liquor store where I never venture and there seem to be so many potentially tasty things. Of course, I gave full credit to you guys for all your excellent suggestions about what to buy.

                                  I ended up going to Marty's on Washington Street in Newton and they had what seemed to me to be a huge selection. They were also really helpful... three or four different salespeople offered help while I was in there perusing.

                                  I ended up buying a bottle of each of the following:
                                  - Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
                                  - Ipswich Nut Brown Ale
                                  - Allagash White
                                  - Tuckerman Headwall Alt
                                  - Otter Creek Copper Ale
                                  - Anderson Valley Summer Solstice
                                  - Hennepin Ale
                                  - Samuel Smith Pale Ale
                                  - Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout
                                  - Edringer Weizen

                                  All told, this was a great experience, thanks largely to everyone's suggestions. I'm saving them (and might venture over to the Beer Board) for the next time I'm stumped about what to buy as a gift for a man.

                                  P.S. I have a friend who raves about Maudite but didn't think of looking for it.