Offering beer as a token of holiday goodwill can be tricky. It's gauche to put a six-pack under the tree, and nothing says "I forgot" like a brown bag with a ribbon around its neck. The solution: the Rare Beer Club. Each month, members are mailed two, four, or six 750-milliliter bottles of domestic and international rarities. (The amount depends on your boozy enthusiasm.) Kris Calef, whose C&H Clubs operates the Rare Beer Club, uses tasting panels to select the featured beverages, which come from breweries ranging from tiny and Belgian to hyperlocal and American. That's due, in part, to strong distributor connections. "For importers focused on artisanal products, we can say, 'Hey, we're working on December—do you have any suggestions?'" says Brett Olson, C&H's marketing analyst. December's recipients will enjoy Mikkeller's Happy Lovin' Christmas. The IPA, infused with ginger and pine, was created by Mikkel Borg Bjergso, who travels to the world's breweries to craft his beers rather than running his own—a "gypsy brewer," as Olson puts it. ($32-$69 per month, beermonthclub.com)
A version of this article appeared in the December 2011/January 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.