"Mommy, Where Do Tasting Journals Come From?" June 17 2024

At an event a few weeks ago, I realized I have never really answered the question of where this crazy little company came from on this web site!

Like most great stories, the 33 Books Co. origin story begins with a beer.

Actually, it was more like 2,000 beers.

In October 2009, I attended the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) for the first time. Here's a photo with me and "beer Elvis," aka Charlie Papazian, the founder of the American Homebrewer's Association, which is credited with the resurgence of the craft beer business. I am sometimes credited with more than my fair share of sales in the craft beer business.

33 Books Co. Founder Dave Selden and AHA Founder Charlie Papazian, 2008

Even accounting for the presence of beer celebrities and the disorientingly-yellow sodium lights employed by the Denver Convention Center, I was overwhelmed by the number of craft beers available at this, the world's largest beer festival. There was just no way I could taste them all (or recall them later). In a moment of clarity, I decided I needed a way to remember them next time, but I wasn’t going to be that guy with the foldout spreadsheet, either.

When I returned home and sobered up, I designed a pocket-sized beer tasting notebook that let me quickly record beer notes so I could get back to tasting — and enjoying beers.

But of course, you can't print just one book, so in 2010, I returned to GABF with a few friends, a very crude display and an idea to sell some of the 1000 or so books I'd had printed. They sold like slightly above room temperature cakes, but I knew I was on to something. Or perhaps that was the greenish-hued cookie someone traded me for a book in the final moments of the last session.

Team 33 Books Co. at GABF 2010

33 Beers was my first book, and the only one I thought I'd ever make. But as soon as I had a beer journal, people started asking for a wine journal. And a cheese journal. And a ... well, you get the idea.

Fast-forward nearly 15 years, and the 33” family includes 33 different tasting journals (and counting). I’ve also created some unique tasting maps and letterpress art prints that let you show off your good taste.

It’s been quite a great journey so far, and I would like to sincerely thank you for being a part of it.