Portland, Oregon—The United States Association of Cider Makers has released an update to their Cider Style Guide, first introduced in summer of 2017. USACM’s original reason for releasing a guide was to unify the language used to discuss hard cider in the marketplace. This intention remains true. In the new release, minor language changes were made to the standard styles of modern cider and heritage cider. Additionally, five new specialty styles were added to the guide, bringing the new total to 15 styles.
The new additions include the following. (1) Botanical ciders were split up from spiced ciders. Two sub-categories of rosé cider were added: (2) heritage rosé, which gets its color from red-fleshed apples, and (3) modern rosé, which gets its color from other fruits or botanicals. (4) The lesser-known but traditional New England Style Cider was added, sometimes described as apple wine with raisins. Lastly, a catch all category for outliers is now included, referred to as (5) specialty cider and perry.
USACM’s executive director Michelle McGrath, commented on the process, “A lot of thought went into these updates—stakeholders supplied comments and some very intense conversations about the implications were held. But in the end, the consensus from the board was strong. We felt like these changes reflect the growing diversification of the market, and we want to arm cider makers, distributors, retailers, servers and consumers with the ability to understand and discuss that diversity.”
Two of the new styles added to the guide fall under the hugely popular rosé cider category. “Defining the two substyles of rosé cider was a very exciting proposition for USACM,” said Paul Vander Heide, USACM board president.
For modern ciders, rosé describes the color of the product. That color nuance can be produced with many different fruits or botanicals which will also change the flavor profile of the cider. For heritage rosé ciders, a pink color is achieved through the use of widely unknown red-fleshed apple varieties.
“Our mission here is to educate folks about the amazing diversity of cider products available in the US today,” added Vander Heide.
McGrath reports that the marketplace is beginning to adopt the terms introduced in Version 1.0 of the style guide. “Cider makers are embracing themselves as modern or heritage producers, because it helps them provide expectations to their consumers. I’ve seen it used on labels, by tasting room employees, on cans and bottles, and now—in New Hampshire—there is even an ‘American Heritage Cider’ section in their state liquor stores. Perhaps most importantly, the media is beginning to talk about cider as a category with diverse options. It’s working and we’re so excited,” McGrath exclaimed.
USACM will release an illustrated style poster this winter for tap rooms and tasting rooms. The updated guidelines can be found on USACM’s website (download here). They will open the guide for comment every summer and will make annual updates when warranted.