These are some questions from previous interviews that provide more depth about the product and my plans. Please feel free to republish these in part or in full.

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What is the Palate Deck?

The Palate Deck is a card game to help you conduct beer tasting sessions and tune your palate, for beginning and expert tasters alike.

The idea behind it is that everyone already has experience with basic tastes and smells, thanks to the fact we’re conscious human beings who consume food and drink. Common culinary and beverage terms are the closest thing we have to a universal when it comes to describing what we taste, and these can absolutely be applied to beer.

What the Palate Deck provides is a starting point for learning more about your beer. It provides a structure for conversation and a cheat sheet for your beer vocabulary. On each card you’ll find a word, and a lot of ways of describing that word. Players consider these, discard the ones that don’t match, and talk about the ones you think might apply.

More than just playing cards though, it provides a more in-depth beer education. Every single card not only gives you a tasting word, it also tells you why that flavor or aroma might be present in the beer.

What’s included with the Palate Deck?

The Palate Deck core product is a twin set of 54-card playing card decks. It comes in a 6″ x 4″ x 1″ box with two instruction manuals, so it’s nice and portable for use at bars and tasting rooms.

Who created the Palate Deck?

The Palate Deck was created by Dave Shea. Dave Shea is a Certified Cicerone® and BJCP-certified beer judge. He’s also a co-founder of Vancouver’s Farmhouse Fest Saison and Wild Ale Festival, and a long-time home brewer who finds the occasion to brew commercially every so often. Outside of beer, Dave is well known in the web design & development community.

How much will the Palate Deck cost?

At the time of writing I’m still waiting on a couple of final manufacturing and shipping details to ensure the budget is realistic, but I’m targeting a $25-30 USD ($33-39 CAD) price point.

When will the Kickstarter funding campaign launch?

The target right now is during first half of October, and I’m pretty sure I’ll hit it.

What was the inspiration behind the Palate Deck?

I guess I’ve followed a pretty typical beer geek progression over the past ten years. I started homebrewing, then got my BJCP and Cicerone certifications, and ended up running a beer festival (Vancouver’s Farmhouse Fest). I’ll stop short of starting a brewery any time soon, but as someone with a product design background I saw an opportunity for a new type of beer tasting tool.

There’s been a huge uptick in consumer interest about what’s in their pint glass and how it got there, which also means more people talking about what they’re tasting whether it’s in person over flights or at festivals, online with beer rating apps and social media, or wherever else. These conversations could often benefit from some guidance.

What if there were a way to learn about your beer while sipping it? This is the goal of the Palate Deck: to provide a casual tool that allows you to play a single round within 10-15 minutes, and maybe learn a little about your beer and your tastes in the process.

I also noticed during the design phase that almost all existing beer education uses flavours and aromas as a means to explain styles, ingredients and off-flavours, but treats them maybe as more of a side-effect than the primary focus. But I think there’s room to approach that from the other direction, too. By putting beer flavours and the aromas first, the Palate Deck starts with how we typically talk about and describe beer, and then connects those more accessible culinary terms to beer styles, ingredients and process.

A few other goals were designing the deck to be progressive so that you could start with little to no tasting experience and quickly level up, as well as making sure it was portable so you could easily take with you and lay out on a table in a tasting room.

Who is your target audience?

Before launching I’ve already seen plenty of interest from casual beer fans, so in some senses anyone who likes good beer could be a potential user of the Palate Deck.

But that’s an awfully broad market, so for the Kickstarter I’ll be focusing on getting the word out to professionals in the beer industry, and related amateur interest:

  • Bar and restaurant staff
  • Brewery tasting rooms
  • Beer distributors
  • Aspiring beer judges and Cicerones
  • Home brewers

Of course, I’ll happily sell it to anyone who’s interested!

How will you measure success?

In a way, Kickstarter makes that simple: hit your funding goal, and you’re successful.

I’d like to do better than that, however, as I have plans for follow-up sets that will rely on a certain amount of funding to consider producing. For example, I’ve already planned out most of an expansion set that will include two more extended card decks. I’m hoping to offer that as a stretch goal to help ensure successful funding.

And you might have noticed that the name itself doesn’t actually have anything to do with beer; that was intentional. If beer works out, I can see producing sets for other beverages and even food. I’d consider this project a success if I find myself working on a follow-up Palate Deck that doesn’t involve beer next year.

What are your plans to export the Palate Deck?

I’m focusing my marketing on North America during the Kickstarter, but I have a fulfillment partner that offers warehousing and shipping almost anywhere in the world.