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Beer, with an HDPE chaser

Norbert Sparrow

May 6, 2016

3 Min Read
Beer, with an HDPE chaser

Dave Selden built a business around a very simple idea: A pocket-size beer-tasting journal, 33 Bottles of Beer, conceived by a beer nerd for beer nerds. As you sample a new beer, you simply check a few boxes indicating the serving type, bubble quotient, bitterness and so forth; jot down a few salient facts; and fill in the flavor wheel on each page, and, voilà, you have a permanent record of your amber adventures. The beer journal was a hit—several hundred thousand copies have been sold, so far—and it has spawned a cottage industry of tasting journals for the 33 Books Co. (Portland, OR) devoted to wine, whiskey, cider, coffee, cheese and even doughnuts and oysters. This week Selden introduced his newest product—33 Bottles of Beer: Professional Edition—and, among other innovations, it is made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE).

Until now, Selden has taken great pride in using 100% recycled paper sourced in the Pacific Northwest and U.S.-grown soy-based ink for the books, which are printed in Portland, OR, where he lives and runs his business. He also adds a “teeny, tiny amount of real beer to the ink.” Still, something was missing.

“People kept asking for a spill-proof version of the journal,” Selden told PlasticsToday. “It kept coming up. I’m not sure if they were serious or joking, but it did seem like a good idea.”

Selden researched various materials, which he rejected either because of high cost or poor customer service, and settled on a company that supplies ink-friendly HDPE. The price was right, “and it’s made in the USA, which is important to me,” said Selden.

I think it’s safe to assume that Portlandia and environs is fairly hostile territory for plastics, and there is probably a segment of Selden’s customer base that would be in the same camp. I wondered if he had given any thought to possible push back. “Sure, I thought about it. I try to be responsible,” said Selden. “HDPE is easily recyclable," said Selden. More importantly, since a journal is meant to be preserved, the material is "durable, providing many years of long-lasting value. I suppose you have to drill somewhere [to get the raw material for plastic], but the supplier told me that it mitigates the environmental impact as  much as it can. So, yeah, I think it’s an eco-friendly approach.”

In addition to the spill-proof design, the Professional Edition has some other new features, the most notable of which is a fold-out color meter based on the Standard Reference Method, or SRM, that brewers use to specify beer color. “It’s like a Pantone color wheel, but for beer nerds,” explains Selden. “You pour yourself a sample of the beer and compare it to the color wheel.”

Selden introduced the 33 Beer Bottles of Beer: Professional Edition this week at—where else?—the Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America in Philadelphia, PA.

Check out his portfolio of tasting journals, maps and other merchandise on his website, 33books.com.

About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree.


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