Former beer blogger and longtime homebrewer Dave Selden found his place in the alcohol world making tasting journals. Selden wanted something he could use for note-taking and easily slip into his pocket while out sipping beers for his blog. After attempting 999 days of consecutive beer tasting — he made it into the 600s — the idea for 33 Books Co. was conceived. “I thought I might be giving them away as Christmas gifts for like 20 years or something, but the first batch sold out in about a month or two,” he recalls.
With that spurt of unexpected success, Selden began branching out to other popular drinks and treats, now with a collection of journals for all kinds of alcohol, cheese, coffee, hot sauce, even donuts and cigars. To take it one step further, when the books go to the printer, they are inked with some substance of the consummable focus — like a little bit of cider added to the ink — and is noted on the back of the book.
While he does take into consideration what is trending in beverage, he prioritizes his picks based on his own personal passions. “It helps if I like that product,” Selden, an avid cider fan, adds. “Whiskey was an easy sell for me. But I have not done a tequila one, for example, just because it’s not my favorite thing.”
A lover of craft, Selden is no stranger to the cider revolution. With his home base in Portland, Oregon, his studio is tucked into the back of Cider Riot! and he admits to dabbling in a bit of cidermaking himself. Although he says the cider tasting journal is not his biggest seller, he feels a connection to the drink. “It is the one where I feel like I’m part of a movement that is trying to help cider regain it’s maybe true, maybe not true, popularity,” he says.
Three cider-themed journals have come out of his collection: 33 Mugs of Cider, 33 Mugs of Cider: The Golden Russet Edition and 33 Cider Pressings. The first cider journal made its debut early in the 33 Books line-up. “James [Kohn] from Wandering Aengus is a big evangelist for cider, and he basically pestered me into doing the book,” Selden says. “I did it, and then I’ve sort of fallen in love with cider over the years.”
His journals are created for the average taster, aiming to create a journal that is as useful for a cider lover in Portland to those in Oklahoma or Japan. As part of his process he immerses himself into the product, which does include tasting a whole lot of cider, but his first task is to establish a spectrum. For example, for cider, he takes a basic cider entry-level cider as a starting point and then builds upon there, determining contrasts, similarities and a scope of flavors.
His current favorite journal is the recently released 33 Cider Pressings. This journal was constructed after Selden moved to a property outside of Portland that was home to a small apple orchard. After experimenting with pressing his new, fresh-picked apples, he made a cidermaking, instead of tasting, log book. “Like a lot of homebrewers and cidermakers, [I] have not historically been very good about taking notes, so it’s kind of fun to put that into a structured format,” says Selden.
Now that he has hit most of his favorites, Selden has started partnering with other food and beverage enthusiasts to create books that are a little outside of his comfort zone or common knowledge, like the recently released Oyster journal and an upcoming Mezcal journal. For 33 Book’s full line-up, including the new 33 Cider Pressings for home cidermakers, visit 33books.com.