US Association of Cider Makers releases first style guidelines

The US Association of Cider Makers (USACM) has released its first set of cider style guidelines “designed to build a foundation for the lexicon” used to describe cider.

The new guidelines are designed to aid both the consumer and the industry professional in making better sense of and describing the growing range of ciders now available.

Drafted “by consensus by the board of directors”, USACM’s guidelines are not intended to be set in stone. In the addendum, the authors emphasise that this is just the start of an effort to better demarcate the category.

The guide states that it is a “living, growing document. Cider is a diverse, complex beverage, and additional definitions will be added with time to reflect this”.

The Cider Style Guide is broadly divided into two categories: standard and speciality. The former refers to ciders or perries made principally with culinary or table apples or pears, whereas the latter implies the use of cider/perry-specific varieties of apple or pear. The guide then goes on to define terms such as fruit ciders, hopped ciders, spiced ciders, wood-aged ciders, sour ciders and Ice Cider.

For each category, the guide provides an overall description together with the classic aroma or flavour, appearance and the varieties of fruit used.

While the board will use the new guidelines in its Certified Cider Professional (CCP) programme, they are “not meant as competition guidelines, although competitions may pick them up for use”.

In addition, the descriptors and style names are not TTP (The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) regulated, indeed, USACM states that the term ‘Ice Cider’ is the only TTB-regulated cider style name. Only ciders that have been made with naturally frozen apples (frozen outdoors rather than in an industrial freezer) can carry the label ‘Ice Cider’.

Trevor Baker, USACM vice president, commented: “The Lexicon Project will help us educate consumers and distributors about cider. Now we can get down to the fun business of developing cohesive marketing materials for our members as well as enhancing our CCP program materials”.

The USACM represents cider and perry producers in the US, providing members with news, important information, resources and services. It has a total of 1,467 members out of which 535 are current US cidery members. As part of its strategic plan for 2017 to 2019, the organisation hopes to provide “educated consumers with a passion and understanding for the diversity and regionality of American hard cider” and work towards “fair and simplified regulation of cider”.

The guidelines can be downloaded in full here.

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