Beery resolution to birthday dilemma

We all have someone in our families who is hard to shop for. In my family, it’s my dad.

Every time his birthday rolls around, a slight panic sets in as I count down the days, time ticking away as I frantically search for the perfect gift.

He’s not the type of person you can ask, “What do you want for your birthday?” or “Is there anything you need?”

No, my father is the type of person who tells you he doesn’t want anything, doesn’t need anything and, please, do not get him anything.

He refuses to let you pay for his dinner and says spending time with you is a gift in itself. (Aww.)

His birthday was last week and earlier this month, as I struggled with both coming up with a gift idea and coming up with an idea for my column, it dawned on me.

I’d been thinking about writing a column about touring a local brewery, either Lucky Bucket Brewing Co. in La Vista or Nebraska Brewing Co. in Papillion.

I’d never toured a brewing company and thought it might be interesting to learn how beer was made. Not to mention it was something new to try, a different experience than my norm.

Both breweries offered evening tours on my dad’s actual birthday so I decided to invite him and his girlfriend along.

I chose Lucky Bucket’s tour, as it was cheaper and I was more familiar with their beer, working in numerous bars over the years who still continue to serve Lucky Bucket’s pre-Prohibition style Lager.

We arrived 15 minutes early, receiving a beer to take along on our tour for only $3 a person.

The 45-minute tour included information on the company’s history, the beer making and bottling processes, as well as information on how sister company, Cut Spike Distillery, distills and packages its whiskey, rum and vodka.

Lucky Bucket founders originally wanted to distill whiskey but found that Nebraska’s distillery laws hadn’t been changed since the Prohibition era.

They began to brew beer as they worked to change Nebraska’s laws on distilleries.

Once they could legally make whiskey, Cut Spike Distillery won a double gold medal at an international spirits competiton for its single malt whiskey. The whiskey, which Cut Spike ages for only two years, sold out immediately. The brewery will release its third batch of the whiskey late this summer.

The company uses pure, mineral-packed water from the Ogallala aquifer to distill its spirits and though I’m not a huge vodka fan, Cut Spike’s premium vodka is some of the smoothest I’ve ever tasted.

Although rum is usually my go-to liquor, I wasn’t as fond of the rum, which Cut Spike ages for one year in the same barrels used for whiskey. I’ve never been a whiskey drinker and the hint of whiskey flavors in the rum did not resonate well with me.

While I’d only tasted Lucky Bucket’s lager before, the tour allowed me a chance to taste the company’s wheat beer and has gotten me excited to try Belly Flop, a strawberry blonde summer beer brewed seasonally at Lucky Bucket.

While there I also took a sip of Lucky Bucket’s Summertime Pale, a lighter Indian Pale Ale, confirming my suspicion that I will never acquire a taste for IPAs.

Better yet, it served as a fun way to spend time with my dad on his birthday before enjoying a steak dinner.

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