Designing the Beer Travel Passport

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This week Maria and I launched a new project that is near and dear to our hearts: The Society of Beer Travelers. It is place where like minded people can come together and share their stories and experiences.

When you join the group you also get the Beer Travel Starter Kit which includes the BreweryMap app, Beer Travel Passport, SOBT T-shirt, and profile page to track and share your travels. The whole kit is awesome but I want to take a moment to discuss the Beer Travel Passport as it is near and dear to my heart. Not just because I designed it and am really happy with the way it turned out but because of what it represents.

One of the busier pages in my passport.

I love notebooks especially those of the pocket sized variety so it came as no surprise that I instantly had a connection to my first passport. The sheer utilitarian aspect of a book that records your path across the globe is instantly comprehensible. While it was initially designed as a method to verify a citizen’s nationality as they travel, it has turned in to a symbol of travel as a whole.

It is both visual and visceral. The feel of the durable woven cover reminds you of past adventures. Each stamp represents a stage on your journey and in most cases a specific story of discovering new lands. Pages full of half inked stamps conjure up memories of past encounters with people you laughed and shared tales with never to be seen again.

Beer travel is not much different from international travel. You intentionally put yourself somewhere that is unfamiliar to create new experiences. This is why I wanted to create the beer travel equivalent of a passport. Something you can record your journey in with all the tactile, emotional, and functional benefits of the government issued variety.

The official Beer Travel Passport

When it came to designing the actual book I took a lot of cues from the tried and true US passports. It’s straight forward grid layout and typography is clean and meant to be quickly comprehended at a glance.

However, I needed it to be more than a place to collect stamps. During our visits I always found myself needing a notebook to write down tidbits about the brewery, recommendations for nearby beer destinations, names, numbers, and even sketch out an occasional idea or diagram.
Beer Travel Passport interior

This needed to be a versatile book so I knew line ruled sheets were out, but I didn’t like the idea of just having a blank page. I settled on a happy mix by using a dotted grid to provide straight lines when you needed them but small enough to ignore when you didn’t.

It also needed to be easy to fill out the basics so you could concentrate on the experience, not on recording the experience. Many times I found myself missing part of conversation as I was too focused on recording what I had just heard. I decided to use check boxes for the standard info like the type of destination and how you traveled to it.

The validation system needed to be versatile enough to account for anything since many breweries and bars don’t have a stamp. We decided to keep it simple and provide enough room for some common memorabilia like stickers, signatures, and stamps as well since Ale Trails and the like are becoming more and more popular.

Beer Travel Passport map

A fun addition we made were the maps in the back. These allow you to mark off the states and even countries that this passport has seen. Check them off or fill in the map, either way you’ll have a visual record of the adventure.

Of course a passport needs to be personal. You have to feel that is unique to you and no one else could use it. So just as any other passport would require a photo and signature to be valid, so does the Society. The Date of Issue and Completion boxes allow you to keep your journeys straight as you fill up multiple Passports and see more and more places.
The Beer Travel Passport is not valid until signed

It was a fun process and I am really excited with how well they turned out. I think every beer traveler should have one, but remember you can only get the passport by joining the Society of Beer Travelers so sign up while supplies last.

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