A Portland, Ore., entrepreneur by the name of Dave Selden, in the mistaken impression that Beer at 6512 is an influential tastemaker, has sent me a sample of his product, a well put-together notebook intended for beer reviews.
In a moment of weakness that I blame on guilt stemming from my Midwestern, Protestant heritage, I'll give the guy the publicity he is so baldly seeking.
33 Bottles of Beer is a small notebook, slightly larger than a deck of cards. Each page contains fill-in spaces for the fundamental aspects of a beer review: ABV, IBU, beer name, brewer, etc. A flavor wheel allows the user to rate a beer's various aspects such as "malty," "sour," "hoppy," etc.
The notebooks cost $4 each or three for $10 from the official website.
33 Bottles of Beer is a nifty little tool for beer reviewers. I see it being most helpful for people who write frequent but short reviews for sites such as BeerAdvocate.
My only criticism is that it seems likely to encourage the ongoing standardization and formulization of beer reviews. Sites like BA have their place, but I hope there remains a space for us writerly types to go a little deeper in beer reviews. A hundred words might not be enough for every beer review; neither do I like to adhere by rigid categories like appearance, smell and taste. I might want to spend 100 words on the origin and character of the yeast alone.
In any case, Selden clearly has a handle on what constitutes a basic beer review, and 33 Bottles of Beer could be a useful tool for those who like to pound out brief appraisals.