Eat, drink and be merry

Edible gifts for foodies and drinkies alike

The Coloradan from Cured

Sorry, Mom, but most holiday gifts don’t last. You may as well give that misguided sweater or self-help audiobook straight to Goodwill.

If you’re ready to come to terms with the temporary nature of the average Christmas gift, you’re ready to give an edible gift. Yeah, it’s gone fast — that’s a compliment.

And while anything you can digest could be an edible gift, we’ve pulled together a few selections from local merchants that are special for the holidays.

The most wonderful time of the beer

Beer, as Boulderites know, is good for any occasion. That includes the holidays, as Christmas ales, winter warmers and other seasonal beers can make very thoughtful gifts.

The problem is, the possibilities are nearly endless. And while giving someone their favorite brew isn’t a bad idea, we think gifts should be a little adventurous.

So we talked to Steve Kurowski, marketing director of the Colorado Brewers Guild, about where to start shopping for the established beer lover in your life. Kurowski reached deep into the lesser-known corners of Colorado beer to name a few up-and-coming breweries that even beer lovers probably haven’t tried.

“There are a couple new breweries in Colorado that are packaging some really neat beers that people may not know about yet,” Kurowski says. “BRU in Boulder is a really cool little outfit. They’re bottling like 750s [750-milliliter containers], so they’re big bottles.”

And, Kurowski points out, BRU is still small enough — having just started this year — that it’s unlikely the beer lovers on your list will have tried any.

“They’re all really small quantities,” he says. “I think they number their labels.”

Other first-year breweries in Boulder County that could provide new brews are Louisville’s Gravity Brewing, West Flanders Brewing Company and Wild Woods Brewery, all of which sell growlers to go. In time for holiday shopping, Fate Brewing and J Wells Brewery, both in East Boulder, also expect to be open.

Kurowski also notes that Upslope Brewing is canning and selling its brand-new Christmas Ale, which comes in a festive, striped pint-sized can.

Kurowski also mentions a few breweries across the state that beer lovers might be excited to try for the first time. He suggests Funkwerks, the Fort Collins brewery that took home the gold medal for small brewery of the year at this year’s Great American Beer Fest. Funkwerks distributes throughout Boulder County, as does Woodland Park’s Paradox Brewery. Jeff Aragon, one of Paradox’s brewers, says the company ages all of its beers in barrels, usually wine barrels, and specializes in “an American twist” on Belgian brews. He says Paradox recently began distributing beers, including its winter stout, a Belgian dark and a winter bock, to the Boulder area.

Lastly, Kurowski suggests Elevation Beer Company in Poncha Springs, west of Salida. Minutes from Monarch ski area, Elevation’s ski-themed beers (sorted into Blue Square, Black Diamond and Double Black categories) range from IPA to porter, with an emphasis on Belgians.

“One of the beers that’s available now is a quad, a Belgian quad, and it’s exceptional,” Kurowski says.

The same area is producing something a little harder for the holidays: Deerhammer Distilling in Buena Vista and Vino Salida are teaming up to produce Buena Vista Brandy for a limited time.

The brandy’s available only at the Deerhammer tasting room. It’s a trip, to be sure, but with good reason: Only one barrel of the spirit was made, a Deerhammer press release says. A bottle is $25.

That mirrors the rarity of Colorado liquor in general. Really, Colorado-made beer is a dime a dozen. Or should be. But Colorado-made distilled hard alcohol? Let’s put it this way: The website has been disabled.

Boulder does have two distilleries, Roundhouse Gin and Boulder Distillery, makers of 303 Vodka. Roundhouse is offering limited-edition flavors in its taproom, but the specialty stuff can’t go home with you, unlike the gins and coffee liqueur. 303 is selling gift packages that include vodka, whiskey or both as well as shot glasses and T-shirts. The distillery’s infused vodkas — which rotate at least semi-weekly — can be substituted into those packages, which range from $20 to $76.

Good dinings to you

OK, alcohol presents aren’t ideal for everybody. Edible gift baskets are widely available, so we’ve picked out a few for picky eaters on your list.

The gift basket is only one step away from gift cards in the blank-slate-ness category. It can be just about anything you want it to be, from simple to extravagant and from personal to generic.

It’s a wide field, but one place to narrow it down — and do right by the planet — is a basket from America’s Best Organics. Formerly Boulder’s Best Organics, the still-Boulder-based company offers all-organic products from snacks to teas to soaps.

And if you’re aiming for local, rest easy: You can shop by region and box up only Rocky Mountain-area products.

On the other hand, exotic food from around the world can be an exciting thing. But travel is expensive. The meat and cheese shop Cured, on Boulder’s Pearl Street, is much less so.

And Cured is aiming to simulate travel in its Christmas gift boxes, which offer tours of three different areas: Colorado, the U.S. and the globe. Each is a bit of a roll of the dice, as Cured doesn’t specify exactly which products you’ll get. The baskets include two or three cheeses and two or three salamis from the designated areas.

Then there’s the $75 Meat Lovers Box. It’s an entire pig in a box.

OK, it isn’t, but it is a whole lot of cured pork, featuring salamis from Virginia, Utah, Oregon and Colorado, along with pilsner crackers and bacon-flavored toffee and jam.

If variety like that doesn’t get the foodies on your list excited, maybe they really just wanted a card.