Brickstone Dark Secret

Brickstone's Dark Secret is aged in Weller barrels and has an option featuring a Vanilla Espresso variant.

It is that time of year again to look into what you should be placing under the tree of your craft-beer-loving friends and family. In the past, I would recommend what beers you should bring to family get togethers, but because that is out of the question this year, I want to point you toward gifts and beers you can give to your loved ones safely. Consider doing a Zoom or FaceTime call while you enjoy the beers together virtually. As we enter the winter season with COVID still increasing, breweries and small businesses will be hurting in their attempts to last the winter while hoping for a vaccine and a spring to come when we can gather again and enjoy craft beer the way it was meant to be — with friends.

If you ever think about where you put your money, who you spend money with, what businesses you support, what sort of a world you want to see after the winter lifts, now is the time to consider such things. I tried not to keep that ever present in this column during the summer — although this current unpleasantness touches everything — to try to find ways to keep it only in the backs of our minds. Here, I want to focus on businesses I would support during this time and provide gift ideas you can purchase to support awesome people when they need it most.

First, Brickstone Brewery is on the top of my list. I’m most excited for the Dark Secret aged in Weller barrels with a Vanilla Espresso variant. This comes in a four pack, so if you were lucky enough to get it before it sold out and have three friends and a Zoom account, you could have an excellent Christmas cookies and Barrel Aged Stout virtual party.

Everyone knows beer — especially these big, limited, exclusive, pre-sale beers — makes an excellent gift, but what can you pair with it? There are plenty of other options available through Brickstone Brewery’s online merch store, such as a Dark Secret T-shirt or a Dark Secret Teku Glass (which is the one of the craziest glasses known to craft beer). Better yet, consider buying a bag of Dark Matter’s collaboration roast Dark Secret Barrel Aged Coffee Beans to brew up on Christmas morning while the kids open their presents. Shipping is free with orders more than $25. Keep an eye on their social media, as every day this month, they will be offering a new deal for their online store.

If you are looking for what I like to call “around-the-house” beers for this holiday season, Brickstone has been releasing some great products alongside its lineup of flagship beers. Their Haz’X Series 2020-2 release with Sultana Hops would be an excellent beer to sip alongside some Dark Secret. The newest release for Brickstone is the Milkshake IPA with blueberry and pomegranate, which pairs well with holiday festivities. Also look for the next Jam’D series release; the flavor will be blackberry.

If you have someone in your life who isn’t into craft beer, Brickstone offers a to-go sangria mix, which includes everything you need to make one of their exceptional sangrias at home.

Dark Secret Vanilla Espresso from Brickstone Brewery

ABV: 13 percent

IBUs: 40

Style: Stout — Russian Imperial

Notes: All of the deep, roasty, fudge-like notes from the original Dark Secret with plenty of barrel character blended with vanilla and espresso.

Where to Buy: Sold out.

Milkshake IPA with Blueberry and Pomegranate

ABV: 8.5 percent

IBUs: N/A

Style: IPA — Milkshake

Notes: This milkshake IPA features blueberry, pomegranate, vanilla and milk sugar to give this IPA a full-fruited experience with a creamy, smooth finish. There still is enough beer here to not get lost in the shuffle, but even non-hop lovers still can enjoy it.

Where to Buy: The brewpub, Jewel and other places in four packs of 12-ounce cans for about $12.

Jam’D Blackberry from Brickstone Brewery

ABV: 6 percent

IBUs: 10

Style: Fruit Beer

Notes: This delicious ABV jammy-fruited ale is loaded to the brim with mouth-watering blackberry flavor. Each one of the beers in the Jam’D series have been excellent. I especially liked the mango and look forward to seeing the blackberry on the shelves, too.

Where to Buy: The brewpub or places such as Jewel in four packs of 12-ounce cans for about $9.

Joshua Riley is a local craft beer columnist. He can be reached at editors@daily-journal.com or directly at Joshua.riley919@gmail.com.