Humorist Dave Barry has said, "the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. The wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza."
Ben Franklin considered beer nectar from heaven. "Beer is proof that God wants us to be happy," he said.
These days, beer-making and beer-drinking is having a moment, if the hip, hoppy accoutrements being offered by many major retailers this spring is any indication. For a Father's Day gift that hits the spot, consider these beer-related items:
At www.uncommongoods.com , there's a selection of beer soaps from San Francisco soap maker Hiromi. The essences of lager, stout, ale and porter are drawn from the alcohol and then mixed with oils to make a six-pack of heady cleansers. The retailer also has a selection of brewing kits, too. Vermont maple porter, West Coast India Pale Ale, Texas Chipotle amber and Southern bourbon stout kits come with everything you need to get the beer bubbling.
You'll also find a brew kit from the Brooklyn Brew Shop at Williams-Sonoma, including a cook pot, grain, hops and yeast. There's enough in the starter kit to make one batch of beer, and flavors include light Summer Wheat and a Belgian ale. (www.williams-sonoma.com )
From Portland, Ore., a center of the craft beer movement, are the stoneware jugs known as growlers, made by www.portlandgrowlercompany.com .
At Crate and Barrel, there's a large selection of beer glasses for serving everything from a traditional English pint to craft brews. There's also a tasting set that includes an acacia wood tray and four 5-ounce glasses. Keep track of new beers with a Moleskine beer journal that has tabbed sections, pouring tips, a beer glossary and a section for recipes. Or elevate the kegger with a Krups Beer Tender, a dispensing chiller that holds several varieties of kegs including a 5-liter Heineken. Beer temperature can be adjusted, and the contents will stay fresh for 30 days. (www.crateandbarrel.com )
Crafter Mindy Humphrey of Vancouver, Wash., turns recycled beer packaging into wallets, cuffs, dog collars and luggage tags that she sells on her Etsy site, www.etsy.com/shop/mindysdesigns .
Beer trivia playing cards and links to a gallery of beer tap handles are to be found at www.coolmaterial.com . The cards feature a deck-full of interesting beer information for the aficionado.
People can get surprisingly creative with a beer tap handle. The website's got examples made out of everything from video game controllers, antlers, bike gears and light sabers to steampunk-themed accoutrements.
Colorado-based Breckenridge Brewery collaborated with Topo Designs on a smart-looking, limited-edition backpack with a detachable, insulated, six-pack bag — handy for hikes, concerts or other outdoor activities where a few brews would be welcome. Included is an opener forged by Machiene Era Co., a Richmond, Va., ironworks. (www.breckbrew.com )
On a hot summer day, beer warms quickly; pop a Chillsner into the bottle and your drink will stay frosty. The gadget's an aluminum rod that you freeze first; on one end is a drink-through spout. (www.gentsupplyco.com )
From Urban Brewery in Grand Rapids, Mich., comes a smaller version of the typical 5-gallon brewing kit. The scaled-down size takes up less prep space, so it's a good option for studio apartment dwellers or those with limited basement brewing room. All the ingredients you'll need are included, as well as eight reusable plastic beer bottles and caps. Choose from half a dozen flavors, including Blonde Ale, American IPA, Irish Red and Brown Porter. (www.etsy.com/shop/urbanbrewery )