While I am a [**huge**](https://untappd.com/user/robberbaron) [ Untappd user](https://untappd.com/user/robberbaron) and have tried to be stalwart about checking in almost every beer I have sometimes found typing long notes into a tiny cell phone is slow, obnoxious, or inadequate due to my inability to be terse. If brevity is the soul of wit then I am witless.
On reddit today I saw a link to a very clever craft beer fanatic who created his own **tasting ****journal**. While this is a pen and paper solution in a digital world it *actually* solves a lot of problems that digital applications just cannot do. [István Lechner](http://hopbot.co/) has created a [free PDF that allows you to print out](http://hopbot.co/all-things-beer/free-beer-tasting-journal) your own tasting notes pages to collate into your own private tasting journal.
There are some limitations to this approach. You have to carry this journal around wherever you want to taste the beer. You need to make sure you have a writing implement when you are tasting beer. And most importantly you need to remember to take your journal with you when you stumble out of your tasting venue.
Yet I think the merits outweigh the concerns. István’s default template has a lot more information than normal tasting applications. He has spots for price, IBUs, color, and serving type. While color might not be the most important attribute to keep in memory I think price is an important characteristic that most other apps miss. I think knowing what is fair market value for a pint of beer is important to help being ripped off by a bar or bottle shop that sells beer at an unreasonable markup.
I especially like the serving type because how you get the beer matters. Having a beer on cask versus in a growler that was in someone’s fridge for couple of days versus a bottle/can can have a huge effect on flavor. I may think Sculpin on tap in a perfectly amazing IPA but having it on cask might totally change my rating of the beer; for good or for ill.
But the best part of this tasting journal is the *Flavor Wheel*. This is radar chart that attempts to represent all major flavor profiles found in a beer in a visual representation. The attributes are:
- Alcohol - Dark Fruit - Citrus Fruit - Hoppy - Floral - Spicy - Herbal - Malty - Toffee - Burnt - Sweet - Sour - Dry - Body - Linger - Bitter Not only will the help you think about the various possible flavors/properties a beer may have that influence your taste but it may help you discover that it isn’t Citrus Fruit that you love in your beer but maybe it is dark fruit or malty sweetness you have chased all along. I think this helps capture a much more accurate description of a beer at a quick glance. It is vastly superior to throwing together a 500 character description that too often is “It was a great Pale Ale. Delicious.” Which means nothing to you a year after tasting. I for one think this is brilliant and plan to use this method for the next major tasting event that I go to. If only there was a digital version that had the flavor wheel. It would fulfill my greatest dream. Give it a shot and let me know what you think of István’s tasting journal.