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The Original Cider Tasting Mug by 33 Books

Review: The Original Cider Tasting Mug by 33 Books Co.

One area of cider tasting that especially fascinates me is choice of drinkware. I can’t put a number on just how many different glassware sizes and shapes I’ve used in tasting ciders, but I know that over the past three years I have used no fewer than 12 different glassware styles for reviewing ciders at home. When I discovered The Original Cider-Tasting Mug from 33 Books, I was immediately intrigued.

Unboxing the mug is almost as exciting as the mug itself. One look and it’s obvious that the box was made with the same attention to detail that went into the mug. With the box open, you see the mug held firmly in a cut-out cardboard tray. Continuing with the sustainability shown in their review books, the box and packing internals are 100% cardboard and easily recyclable.

Once you get the mug out of the box (I’m not kidding about it being held firmly!) you might first notice its weight. I wouldn’t call this mug heavy, but it is definitely stout and you can feel that it is made to last. I found that the tapered shape fits comfortably in my hand and the unglazed exterior provides just the right amount of roughness for a secure grip, regardless of whether the mug is wet or dry. The top inch or so of the exterior is glazed bright white. That glassy glazing continues up over the rim and throughout the interior of the mug.

Looking inside the mug, your eyes are immediately drawn to the bottom. Embossed on the bottom of the mug is the number 33. It’s a very clever little detail with a lot of purpose. First, the 33 can be used to evaluate the clarity of the cider (more on that later.) Another function of the 33 is to provide nucleation sites for carbon dioxide to form bubbles and bring aromas to the top of the mug.

On the topic of aromas, I have to admit that this mug provides one of the best aromatic experiences with cider I have encountered. The narrow neck is perfectly placed to concentrate aromas and the flare at the top is just right to accommodate your nose as you sip the cider. The ciders that I have enjoyed from this mug have been been some of the most fulfilling.

You might be asking, “Why don’t you use this mug for reviews on the site?” Ultimately, the answer lies in my wanting to present the appearance of the cider in our review photos. While the mug makes looking at cider color and clarity easy, it doesn’t photograph as well as a clear glass.

One final perk to this mug is the insulating properties of the ceramic. Regardless of the temperature at which you like to enjoy your cider, this mug will help keep it at that temperature. Even with your hand wrapped around the mug, the cider tends to stay cool and your hand stays comfortably warm.

Cider Tasting Science

If you’re new to cider tasting, you may want to check out our cider tasting and review process overview. For the purposes of reviewing the Original Cider Tasting Mug, the engineer in me had to apply a bit of “scientific” testing. So let’s dig a little deeper into how this mug performs over a few scenarios.

I tested the white interior for color determination and the 33 logo inside the mug for evaluating clarity. For these tests I opted to use Shacksbury Craft Cider Dry and Big B’s Lazy Daze ciders. I took photos looking down into the mug for each 1 fluid ounce of cider added. Lazy Daze is a cider that generally appears opaque when poured into a typical wine glass. The Shacksbury Dry, in the same glass, is crystal clear. The following image sliders show the results ounce by ounce.

General observations from these tests:

  • Evaluating clarity seems to be best accomplished between 4 oz and 9 oz.
    • Below 4 oz the clarity appeared to be the same for both ciders.
    • At 4 oz the 33 begins to obscure very slightly in the Lazy Daze test.
    • At 9 oz the 33 disappeared completely in the Lazy Daze test and remained clearly visible in the Shacksbury test.
  • With both the Shacksbury Dry and the Big B’s Lazy Daze, the color shown at 8 oz appeared to most closely match the color of each cider when viewed in a clear glass.

My takeaways from this information?

Ciders appear to be best evaluated at roughly 8 oz. The narrowest point in the mug corresponds with 12 oz of cider. Aside from the narrow point, there isn’t any good way to determine just how much cider is in the mug. Personally, I’d like to see a pour line added inside the mug for consistent comparisons of ciders. Maybe future iterations of the mug could have a small raised line at the 8 oz level.

Overall, I’m impressed with this mug. I found it to be well made with some very nice design details. If I had draft cider available or was pouring from a growler, I think this would be my “go to” vessel of choice for drinking cider. Pouring bottled or canned cider into the mug doesn’t work for me with how I’ve chosen to present ciders being reviewed, but going forward I think I may shift to using this mug for ciders that I have already reviewed.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free Cider Tasting Mug in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own and were not influenced by 33 Books Co. in any way. Any purchases made through links on this page may result in a commission from Amazon.

Buy it now: The Original Cider-Tasting Mug

Also check out our review of 33 Books' 33 Mugs of Cider (A Pocket Cider Tasting Journal)

Matthew Ostrander
Matthew favors dry hard ciders with body and leans towards traditional English styles, and he’s also developed a serious appreciation for hopped ciders and creative flavor infused ciders. Though he prefers sweets in solid forms, he does enjoy semi-sweet to sweet ciders responsibly when the mood strikes. Learn more about our Chief Cider Curator here.