33 Beers: The Notebook
On my recent trip South to Eugene and Corvallis, I got to hang out with Dave Selden and Bruce Kehe from BS Brewing. We've all rubbed shoulders in the past at various events, but I'm usually hiding behind my camera, or behind a beer, or just falling behind and getting there after everyone's left. This time, I got to hang out, travel to breweries, and drink and talk beer. I also got to test the power of the 33 Beers Journal, created by Dave Selden—and field-tested by a few other Portland beer aficionados.
Beer geekery in 2010 is at an all time high: Which special barrel-aged (bourbon, oak, sherry...), brett-pitched, small-batch, wax-dipped, stand-in-a-long-line beers have you notched on your bedpost? What beer celebrities have you met (those who have had the chance to meet me, know that this is the most amazing treat of all)? Ahem. Personally, the reason that I have spent thousands of hours taking photos, writing about beer, making beer—and most importantly—drinking beer all boils down to on simple sentence: I love beer. In this spirit of this simple sentence, the 33 Beers tasting sketchbook was born. It's not a marketing gimmick. It's not a get rich quick scheme. It was born in the trenches, by people who drink a lot of beer, know a lot about beer, and found a useful aid in their journey.
The main objective was simple: create a pocket-sized book for people to take beer notes. But the 33 Beers Sketchbook goes even deeper by answering a more complicated question: how can I take accurate beer notes quickly? No need to be the guy at the end of the bar filling pages in a book about the experience he's currently missing because he's writing about it. Let's face it: beer is social. Being able to quickly jot down notes into some well-constructed guidelines is a great asset when you want to stay social while documenting pieces of your experience.
Is it perfect for all occasions? No. Sometimes I need a full notebook if I'm at beer release event. Any time I need to jot down more than a few sentences about a beer, this notebook won't suffice. The place this book shines is when I'm tasting multiple beers in a sitting and need to jot down notes which will allow me to remember some of my tasting details as well as compare and contrast beers. It's also a great tool to watch how your palate changes over time. When writing about the same beer three years later, how do the notes compare, especially when filling out the exact same criteria? I bet I'd be surprised at the results.
It's also a great tool for those friends that are just getting into the beer scene. One trip around the flavor wheel and they'll be surprised by all of the different flavors to look for in a beer. One companion on our journey was not a "beer person" and as she took her first notes in the beer journal, it immediately opened a discussion on the aspects of different beer styles. As we powered through our 11am beer sampler, she documented several beers and noticed a lot of details that she would have otherwise overlooked.
I don't need to reiterate everything here since the 33 Beers website is simple, to the point, and explains everything. If you still don't get it, and need a field study, check out 999 Beers: Dave Selden drinks 1 beer a day for 999 days and documents his beers in the 33 Beers Journal. Currently, the books are $4.00 each or three for $10.00 and you can buy directly from the site.
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