Today’s gift idea is close to my heart because it was developed by a fellow blogger type. Once upon a time, the creator of 33 Books, Dave, was an early generation beer blogger in Portland, Oregon. It was during a particularly expansive beer festival that his intrepid beer-tasting prowess was compromised by the, shall we say, sociable properties of brewed drinks. That overwhelming experience led him to create a pocket-sized journal to easily take tasting notes and identify favourites. From there, he put his tiny tome up for sale online and his shelves were cleared out within a month by fellow beer enthusiasts looking to keep tabs on their top drinks.
With his fresh idea catching on like wildfire, Dave expanded his line-up of books to cover common consumable fixations, and thus 33 Books was born. Each themed notebook gives you the opportunity to document, you guessed it, 33 unique tasting experiences of your favourite craving. The content of each book is relatively similar, with fields related to the product title, price, manufacturer, and purchase location, however you’ll also find some tailored areas, particularly when it comes to the tasting side of things. One of my favourite features of the series is comprehensive tasting wheels and little interactive areas where you can ‘colour’ in details like the shade of a glass of wine, the texture of a cheese, or heat meter for a bottle of hot sauce. Also cool? The books all feature coloured ink that’s actually infused with a sample product from the category; for example, my copy of 33 Cups of Coffee includes a few drops of organically grown, natural process coffee from Kintamani, Bali. Special, right?
Best of all, these books are, to put it bluntly, cheap. You can buy one for just $4 (plus reasonable Canadian shipping costs) or stock up on three for $10. They make incredible stocking stuffers, or, as per the focus of today’s post, starting points for future gift-giving. I’ve taken a selection of 33 Books below, given you a snapshot of what to expect inside, and suggested an idea for gifting the book alongside related items. Cheers, bon appetit and enjoy!
For The Beer Imbiber:
33 Bottles of Beer – $4: Does that amber ale taste burnt? Spicy? Herbal? Tap into the flavours of your favourite brew with the original title in the 33 Books series.
The Very Many Varieties of Beer Print – $28 @Pop Chart Lab: Stuck in a beer-drinking rut? Expand your awareness and explore your options with this mind-blowing graphic print to guide your 33 Bottles drinking experience.
Port-A-Pint – $10.95 @ Amazon: You’ve got a pocket-sized book to document your drinking, now how about a portable cup to go with it? The Port-A-Pint folds down into a puck-sized cylinder and expands with the snap of a wrist so you’ll always be prepared to drink up.
Say Cheers: Canada, as you all well know, has pretty differing drinking laws from province-to-province. Rather than point you in the direction of an online, province-specific liquor mart, I’ll make a few literal suggestions: take your pal out for a pint and present them with the book as a birthday nod, pick up a sampler pack of beer and use the book as a gift tag, or schedule a tour at a local brewery and hand over the book with an invitation.
For The Cheesehead:
33 Pieces of Cheese – $4: Don’t know the difference between a bloomy versus a waxed rind? Want to keep tabs on whether that spiced gouda was more earthy or grassy? This book is great for cheese aficionados to bring along with them to the deli counter when picking up appies for a special event.
French Cheese Sampler Pack – $80 @ Cheesy Place: Unlike liquor, cheese is pretty readily available for gifting in Canada – although fair warning, this Toronto-based shop offers the best shipping rates in ON & QC. Try one of their themed sampler packs for a decadent evening of cheese sampling, and record notes in your 33 Pieces of Cheese book.
Poutine Kit – $29.95 @ MakeCheese.ca: This nifty site has tons of kits to allow you to craft your own cheesy concoctions at home. Any Canadian worth their salt will flip for this poutine kit, which makes nine servings of cheese curds to top your favourite fries & gravy. Can I also humbly suggest a future 33 Book focused on Poutine?
Cheese Please: Other fun ideas? How about a fancy reclaimed cutting board alongside a 33 Pieces of Cheese book? Or a gift card to your city’s upscale foodie boutique so you can create a charcuterie sampling board.
For The Java Junkie
33 Cups of Coffee – $4: A perfect cup of coffee is about so many things – when was it roasted? Who produced it? How did you make it? Keep tabs not only on the beans you brew, but how you brew them and eventually you’ll capture your perfect blend.
MyCuppa Coffee Mug – $25 @ GNR8: Although coffee purists may argue you can’t truly appreciate coffee when you add stuff to it, for the average daily drinker cream & sugar is essential. This clever mug allows you to mix the perfect hot drink by colour not a generic ‘double double’ classification.
Transcend Coffee Subscriptions – $69+: This Edmonton-based outfit has plenty of sampling options to alight your tastebuds. Get a new bag of ethically sourced, locally roasted beans delivered to your door weekly or monthly to build up a library (and tasting notes) for the ultimate coffee connoisseur.
Bean Lovin’: Other ideas? Invite a pal out for a cuppa joe at a new cafe you’ve both been meaning to try, and pass along the book during your friend-date. Tuck a book inside a bag of your dad’s favourite beans for Father’s Day. If you’re splurging on a fancy coffeemaker as a wedding gift, be sure to include a 33 Cups of Coffee book as an add-on.
For The Hellfire Hottie
33 Drops of Hot Sauce – $4: If your friend can get past burning off their tastebuds and appreciate the subtleties of spicy sauces, they’ll dig this handy book that includes a heat meter for ranking extreme hotness (ranging from ‘Meh’ to ‘Mommy!’) and a flavour wheel so you can track those garlicy, chocolatey, citrusy notes.
Hot Sauce Trunks – $12 @ Urban Outfitters: If you’re burning up from a particularly hot dollop of sauce, don’t be afraid to strip down to your saucy skivvies.
Small Hot Basket – $40 @ Wicked Gourmet: This ready-for-gifting bucket is packed with 2 hot sauces, a blackening rub, BBQ brush and chocolate treats to temper the pain. Makes a fab Father’s Day gift for your in-laws.
Hot to Trot: Invited to a BBQ? Bring a bottle of hot sauce and a copy of 33 Drops of Hot Sauce as a host gift. Raid your local gourmet grocery store, pick up your favourite hot sauce accoutrement (wings, steaks, etc.), and have a guys night in front of the big game – while taking notes of course.
The Best of the Rest – Look, I could really go all day with alllll the fantastic ways you could gift the remaining titles in the current 33 Books lineup (I’m personally lobby for a Poutine & Tea book next), but I’m sure you get the picture at this point. Still, above are the other four titles available, and below are some other fun ideas for how to gift ‘em:
33 Bottles of Wine – Obviously a perfect choice to go with a bottle of wine as a hostess gift, a wine fridge as a wedding present, or to accompany a cozy night for two with a sampling of wines from your local wine store.
33 Bars of Chocolate – Cause sweets aren’t just for PMSing girls, although if your sweetheart has those crazy choco-cravings, gift this to her as a cheeky sympathy pick. Also a great choice to go with a box of truffles for your anniversary or Valentine’s Day, or even just as a birthday present for a friend with a sweet tooth.
33 Drams of Whiskey – Once an older man’s drink of choice, today whiskey has made a resurgence with young boozehounds that have seen the error of their cheap rye-guzzling days. Top this book off with one that provides a handy guide to whiskeys of the world.
33 Cigars - Another dapper gentleman’s vice of choice; this book stands apart from the others for its slightly more vintage-tinged feel with a price that’s just a smidge more ($5 as opposed to $4).
Here’s the other cool thing about 33 Books. You can save the more you buy. So if you know you’ll go through 33 Cups of Coffee in as many days, or you find yourself nearing the end of your 32nd bottle of wine, it’s easy (and cheap) as pie to pick up another one. Mix-and-match the books to create your own mini-collection or gift-giving stash, or buy five-packs of your favourite title and always have one at the ready. Now some cool news. Three lucky readers are going to win three books each of their choice from 33 Books! Here’s how to enter:
1) Leave a comment by May 30th with the three books you’d pick if you were chosen as one of the lucky winners! Need a refresher? Visit the 33 Books website.
2) Entries are limited to one per person / per email address / per household (or more if you score bonus entries). A random draw will be conducted on or around May 31st to select the winners, who will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen in their place.
3) Entries are limited to Canadians that have reached the age of majority in their province. Quebec is not eligible to participate in this promotion.
4) Bonus Entry: 33 Books is on both Facebook and Twitter. You know the drill. Like ‘em on Facebook, leave a comment about what book you’d like to see next from 33 Books, link back to it (or provide me with your FB username) in the comments below. Follow ‘em on Twitter, tweet about what book you’d like to see next, link back to your Tweet in the comments below. You’ll earn 1 bonus entry for doing one or the other of these activities, and in honour of 33 Books, 3 if you do both.