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A tale of two journals

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One of the things you need when you’re a beer reviewer is some sort of notepad to write down your thoughts while tasting a beer.

Whether it’s for this here blog or the newspaper beer column I write, I need to record my impressions so, when it comes time to write about the beer I can say something a bit more expansive than ‘‘yeah, it’s good. You should buy a six-pack’’.

I used to use a plain old notepad but for the last few months I’ve been using the Moleskine Beer Journal, which features a page for each beer with various spaces to fill in details like aroma, appearance and taste.

It’s a nice-looking journal (that’s it in the background of the above photo) but it does have some serious drawbacks. Firstly the price – mine cost $40 and I can remember umming and ahhing about spending that much money.
The other big issue – and one I didn’t realise when I bought it because it was wrapped in plastic – is that there are a lot of section that are useless to me. See, it’s not just for tastings, that just the first section. There are also sections marked ‘‘my cellar’’, ‘‘recipes’’, ‘‘my addresses’’ and ‘‘homebrewing’’.I’ve ignored the pre-printed spaces in the cellar and recipe section and just scrawled my notes over the top.

But that would never be possible with the address section, so I had to download the tastings page template, photocopy it a bunch of times and glue it into every page of that section. It’s not ideal to have to retool a book so it fits my use, and all those extra photocopied pages makes the journal bulge out.

This Christmas my wife gave me The Beer Snob journal for Christmas, stocked by the Typo chain of stores. While I would have preferred the use of the word ‘‘geek’’ rather than ‘‘snob’’, I haven’t even used it and I already rate it as far superior to the Moleskine version.

For a start it’s cheaper – about half the price in fact. It also doesn’t pissfart around with sections I – nor most people who bought the Moleskine version – would actually use. The Beer Snob journal is split into just two sections – beer reviews and bar reviews. While I know I will never use the bar review section, that can easily be repurposed for beer reviews – and without having to glue in a stack of photocopied pages.

Also, the Beer Snob journal offers two pages for each beer, rather than the one in the Moleskine version. Which means I have more space to write and my scrawl doesn’t end up cramped into the small space the Moleskine offers.

So when it comes to beer journals, more expensive doesn’t equal better.

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