Hey, guys, I come bearding a gift idea.
We’re down to the wire here in terms of holiday shopping, and while it may just miss the perfect gift crosshairs of shoppers celebrating Hanukah (the menorah is lit), for those of us who have a little more time to trim the tree, I’d be remiss if I didn’t help you out and inform you about one of my all-time favorite local gifts to give for any occasion.
Scratch homemade jam and goat milk soap because it’s not every day you can give the gift of hand forged steel. Especially when it complements your closest friends’ home bar tool kit and social activities so perfectly. Step aside, Cousin Eddie – I hate to break it to you, but this is the real gift that keeps on giving.
Hammering red hot steel, by hand, down to an object the size of a hefty domino, Noah Khoury, aka The Helderberg Blacksmith, creates a special little piece that will absolutely grow on you.
These, “Beer Dudes,” as Noah likes to call them, are little bearded bottle openers and the perfect cure for whatever ales your beer-loving crew. Or non-beer lovers, as there are plenty of bottles of cider and sparkling water that need some sugar, too.
Bottle openers, for most of us, tend to be taken for granted until those times when we donít have one. (Youíll think of this the next time youíre opening a bottle with a Bic lighter, on the edge of a picnic table, or – please donít – consider using your teeth). But our choice of bottle-popping tools also says a little something about us. Whether itís a key chain opener from a local brewery, or an antique piece, thereís a connection, and I can’t think of a better way to connect to a bottle of hard cider than opening it with this ride-or-die-guy within arm’s reach.
Noah knows a thing or two about molten metal. He’s a master of metal working, and the one-man show behind Helderberg Blacksmith, named after the breathtaking natural landscape escarpment just outside of Albany, NY (Think: Thatcher Park!)
ďI donít do things much differently than the smiths 200 years ago did,Ē he notes simply, choosing to continue time-honored blacksmithing techniques of heating raw steel in a coal-fired forge and shaping his pieces with repurposed antique tools. ďMany of the tools I use, such as tongs and hammers, I forged myself,Ē he offers.
So he makes his own tools before he gets to work forging iron goodies, large and small. I don’t think it gets anymore “handmade” than that, you guys!
Trained in his father’s blacksmith shop in Altamont, NY, before earning a B.F.A. in metals from Tennessee Tech University’s Appalachian Center for Craft, he’s a second-generation blacksmith who proudly continues to use the Capital Region as a source of inspiration and resources to perpetuate the rich tradition of Hudson Valley smithing.
So whether you plan to pop some Pellegrino or the latest release from your favorite brewery, consider getting a little crafty, thanks to the Iron Age and a 21st Century Blacksmith / craft beer enthusiast.
You can order a, “Beer Dude,” online through Noah’s shop and have him shipped to your door, or if you’re feeling extra chivalrous, gallop over to Altamont and pick him up in person — just clear it with Noah first.
And if these guys don’t make it under the tree or menorah this year, fear not: assuming I did my holiday math right, there are 356 other perfectly great days of the year when you can give a Beer Dude a forever home. And what a steel: for $20.00, this hand-forged friend is worth its weight in
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