Today’s review is of two products from 33 Books Co. – The Original Cider Tasting Mug and the 33 Mugs of Cider Book. Their website sells the mug for $45 (+$5.75 shipping) and the book for $5 (+$2.60 shipping; discount for buying multiple books), among other products, all manufactured in Portland Oregon.
>>This is a review of sample products provided to Cider Says by 33 Books Co. Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received the products for free. The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my review cue. I love free stuff, especially cider! Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here? Contact me.<<
Photos of the mug and box. The box has cardboard cutouts specifically to hold the mug in shipping without extra packaging. It was sent in an exterior USPS box.
<color difference between mug & clear glass, same cider>
Info: The mug was designed specifically for cider. It comfortably holds 12 ounces. It is made from ceramic, which is more insulating than glass. The white ceramic allows the taster to better see the color of the cider. A ceramic mug is also the traditional cider drinking vessel, not glass. Its features are designed to showcase a cider’s clarity and aroma. Ridges from the stamped “33” inside the bottom of the glass serve as nucleation sites to release carbonation.
My Opinion: First off, the packaging and product is high quality. It was easy to hold and drink from. However, the experience is quite different than drinking from glass, so it would take some getting used to. Comparing the color of cider in the mug vs. clear glass, it appears darker, so you can more easily spot differences in hue. The outside of the mug was also cooler to the touch than a glass. Another drinking experience difference is that the lip of the mug is much thicker than that of a typical glass. To me, the cider tasted slightly warmer from the mug, but otherwise no discernible taste difference. To my husband, the primary difference was in the scent–he said the mug concentrated it better.
Bottom Line: I think the mug is ideal for a cider lover who appreciates Artisan products and would like special drinkware for their cider. I’m not sure I’ve been convinced yet to switch from glassware, but I’ll keep trying it out. Note there are a couple other drinkware options marketed specifically for cider, such as made by Angry Orchard and Libbey, but they are glass.
Info: The book is pocket-sized and designed to record tasting notes for 33 ciders. Each page has space for the cider name, maker, date, price, rating, format, carbonation level, notes, ABV, and a flavor wheel (to mark flavor notes, body, dry/sweet, acidity, tartness, tannins, etc).
My Opinion: This is definitely a good option for cider tasting notes. I like their flavor wheel as it can record a lot of information compactly and quickly. It has pretty much everything covered. However, it is geared more for folks that still like to take their notes with pen and paper, and would require remembering to bring it along when tasting ciders. Nowadays many people have digitized their lives. One electronic cider tasting notes option is Cider Expert (similar to Untappd or RateBeer, but cider-specific). I actually do carry a mini spiral notebook for cider tasting notes in my purse. I use those notes in writing my reviews (for Cider Says and on Cider Expert). I would go through these notebooks relatively quickly as they only have space for 33 ciders (although that keeps them compact), and I usually try at least a few new ciders a week (sometimes even a dozen at a time at a tasting event).
Bottom Line: I think the 33 Mugs book is a good option for someone who wants to get into taking tasting notes on ciders but doesn’t know where to start, and who is into pen and paper notes.
BOOK 2 (added Feb 2017)
33 Book Co. has come out with a special Golden Russet Edition of the 33 Mugs of Cider book, and sent me a sample copy (thanks!). The photos don’t really do it justice – the covers are way more gold than cardboard brown. This limited edition (1,000 copies) used Oregon Golden Russet cider in the ink, gold staples, and gold foil. Many cidermakers believe the Golden Russet is a special apple, as if the conditions are right, it contains just the right amount of sweetness, acidity, and tannins for cider. This journal debuted at CiderCon and still retails for $5, or 3 for $12, at this page of 33books.com. The inside pages are the same format for cider tasting notes.
Both of these are great gift ideas for the cider-lover in your life. They aren’t something I would have purchased for myself, so it was nice to try them out. What cider-related products are you looking at this holiday season?