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Styles of Cider

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There are a number of styles of cider recognized by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) organization and the Brewers Association, two of the most prominent organizations supporting home brewers that compile and publish style guides. There are also other traditional styles which are not recognized by these organizations, such as ciderkin(also called cider water), a weak alcoholic cider traditionally drunk by children.

Contents

Standard Cider & Perry

27A. Common Cider

Vital Statistics
OG 1.045 - 1.065
FG -1.020
IBU -
SRM -
ABV% 5 - 8%

Aroma: Sweet or low-alcohol ciders may have apple aroma. Dry ciders will be more wine-like with some esters.

Appearance: Clear to brilliant, pale to medium gold in color.

Flavor: Sweet or low-alcohol ciders may have apple flavor. Sugar and acidity should combine to give a refreshing character, neither cloying nor too austere. Medium to high acidity.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Some tannin should be present for slight to moderate astringency, but little bitterness.

Overall Impression: Variable, but should be a medium, refreshing drink. Sweet ciders must not be cloying. Dry ciders must not be too austere. An ideal cider serves well as a "session" drink, and suitably accompanies a wide variety of food.

Comments: Entrants MUST specify carbonation level (still, petillant, or sparkling). Entrants MUST specify sweetness (dry, medium, sweet).

Varieties: Common (Winesap, Macintosh, Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Jonathan), multi-use (Northern Spy, Russets, Baldwin), crabapples, any suitable wildings.

27B. English Cider

Vital Statistics
OG 1.050 - 1.075
FG 0.995 - 1.010
IBU -
SRM -
ABV% 6 - 9%

This includes the English "West Country" plus ciders inspired by that style. These ciders are made with bittersweet and bitter-sharp apple varieties cultivated specifically for cider making.

Aroma: No overt apple character, but various esters that suggest apples. May have "smoky (bacon)" character, from a combination of apple varieties and MLF. Some "Farmyard nose" may be present but must not dominate; mousiness is a serious fault. The common slight farmyard nose of an English West Country cider is the result of lactic acid bacteria, not a Brettanomyces contamination.

Appearance: Slightly cloudy to brilliant. Medium to deep gold color.

Flavor: No overt apple character, but various flavors that suggest apples. May have "smoky (bacon)" character, from a combination of apple varieties and MLF.

Mouthfeel: Full. Moderate to high tannin apparent as astringency and some bitterness. Carbonation still to moderate, never high or gushing.

Overall Impression: Generally dry, full-bodied, austere.

Comments: Entrants MUST specify carbonation level (still or petillant). Entrants MUST specify sweetness (dry to medium). Entrants MAY specify variety of apple for a single varietal cider; if specified, varietal character will be expected.

Varieties: Kingston Black, Stoke Red, Dabinett, Foxwhelp, Yarlington Mill, various Jerseys, etc.

Commercial Examples: (US) White Oak Traditional and Kingston Black, Westcott Bay Vintage, Farnum Hill Farmhouse and Kingston Black; (UK) various from Hecks, Dunkerton, Burrow Hill

27C. French Cider

Vital Statistics
OG 1.050 - 1.065
FG 1.010 - 1.020
IBU -
SRM -
ABV% 3 - 6%

This includes Normandy styles plus ciders inspired by those styles, including ciders made by various techniques to achieve the French flavor profile. These ciders are made with bittersweet and bitter-sharp apple varieties cultivated specifically for cider making. Traditional French procedures use small amounts of salt and calcium compounds (calcium chloride, calcium carbonate) to aid the process of pectin coagulation. These compounds may be used, pre-fermentation, but in limited quantity. It is a fault if judges can detect a salty or chalky taste.

Aroma: Fruity character/aroma. This may come from slow or arrested fermentation (in the French technique of d̩f̩cation) or approximated by back sweetening with juice. Tends to a rich fullness.

Appearance: Clear to brilliant, medium to deep gold color.

Flavor: Fruity character/aroma. This may come from slow or arrested fermentation (in the French technique of d̩f̩cation) or approximated by back sweetening with juice. Tends to a rich fullness.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full, mouth filling. Moderate tannin apparent mainly as astringency. Carbonation moderate to champagne-like, but at higher levels it must not gush or foam.

Overall Impression: Medium to sweet, full-bodied, rich.

Comments: Entrants MUST specify carbonation level (petillant or full). Entrants MUST specify sweetness (medium, sweet). Entrants MAY specify variety of apple for a single varietal cider; if specified, varietal character will be expected.

Varieties: Nehou, Muscadet de Dieppe, Reine des Pommes, Michelin, etc.

Commercial Examples: (US) West County (various), Rhyne Cider; (France) Eric Bordelet (various), Etienne Dupont.

27D. Common Perry

Vital Statistics
OG 1.050 - 1.060
FG 1.000 - 1.020
IBU -
SRM -
ABV% 5 - 7%

Common perry is made from culinary/table fruit.

Aroma: There is a pear character, but not obviously fruity. It tends toward that of a young white wine.

Appearance: Slightly cloudy to clear. Generally quite pale.

Flavor: There is a pear character, but not obviously fruity. It tends toward that of a young white wine. No bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Relatively full, low to moderate tannin apparent as astringency.

Overall Impression: Mild. Medium to medium-sweet. Still to lightly sparkling. Only very slight acetification is acceptable. Mousiness, ropy/oily characters are serious faults.

Comments: Entrants MUST specify carbonation level (still, petillant, or sparkling). Entrants MUST specify sweetness (medium or sweet).

Varieties: Bartlett, Kiefer, Comice, etc.

Commercial Examples: (at present, no known true perries in North America)

27E. Traditional Perry

Vital Statistics
OG 1.050 - 1.070
FG 1.000 - 1.020
IBU -
SRM -
ABV% 5 - 9%

Traditional perry is made from pears grown specifically for that purpose rather than for eating or cooking. (Many "perry pears" are nearly inedible.)

Aroma: There is a pear character, but not obviously fruity. It tends toward that of a young white wine.

Appearance: Slightly cloudy to clear. Generally quite pale.

Flavor: There is a pear character, but not obviously fruity. It tends toward that of a young white wine. Some slight bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Relatively full, moderate to high tannin apparent as astringency.

Overall Impression: Tannic. Medium to medium-sweet. Still to lightly sparkling. Only very slight acetification is acceptable. Mousiness, ropy/oily characters are serious faults.

Comments: Entrants MUST specify carbonation level (still, petillant, or sparkling). Entrants MUST specify sweetness (medium or sweet). Variety of pear(s) used must be stated.

Varieties: Butt, Gin, Huffcap, Blakeney Red, etc.

Commercial Examples: (At present, no known commercial US perries) Bordelet "Poire Authentique" and "Poire Granit" are French perries available in the US.

Specialty Cider & Perry

28A. New England Cider

Vital Statistics
OG 1.060 - 1.100
FG 0.995 - 1.010
IBU -
SRM -
ABV% 7 - 13%

This is a cider made with characteristic New England apples for relatively high acidity, with adjuncts to raise alcohol levels Appearance: Clear to brilliant, pale to medium yellow.

Flavor: A dry flavorful cider with robust apple character, strong alcohol, and derivative flavors from sugar adjuncts.

Mouthfeel: Substantial, alcoholic. Moderate tannin.

Overall Impression: Substantial body and character.

Comments: Adjuncts may include white and brown sugars, molasses, small amounts of honey, and raisins. Adjuncts are intended to raise OG well above that which would be achieved by apples alone. This style is sometimes barrel-aged, in which case there will be oak character as with a barrel-aged wine. If the barrel was formerly used to age spirits, some flavor notes from the spirit (e.g., whisky or rum) may also be present, but must be subtle. Entrants MUST specify if the cider was barrel-fermented or aged. Entrants MUST specify carbonation level (still, petillant, or sparkling). Entrants MUST specify sweetness (dry, medium, or sweet).

Varieties: Northern Spy, Roxbury Russet, Golden Russet

Commercial Examples: There are no known commercial examples of New England Cider.

28B. Fruit Cider

Vital Statistics
OG 1.045 - 1.070
FG 0.995 - 1.010
IBU -
SRM -
ABV% 5 - 9%

This is a cider with other fruits or fruit-juices added - for example, berry. Note that a "cider" made from a combination of apple and pear juice would be entered in this category since it is neither cider nor perry.

Aroma: The cider character must be present and must fit with the other fruits. It is a fault if the adjuncts completely dominate; a judge might ask, "Would this be different if neutral spirits replaced the cider?" A fruit cider should not be like an alco-pop. Oxidation is a fault.

Appearance: Clear to brilliant. Color appropriate to added fruit, but should not show oxidation characteristics. (For example, berries should give red-to-purple color, not orange.)

Flavor: The cider character must be present and must fit with the other fruits. It is a fault if the adjuncts completely dominate; a judge might ask, "Would this be different if neutral spirits replaced the cider?" A fruit cider should not be like an alco-pop. Oxidation is a fault.

Mouthfeel: Substantial. May be significantly tannic depending on fruit added.

Overall Impression: Like a dry wine with complex flavors. The apple character must marry with the added fruit so that neither dominates the other.

Comments: Entrants MUST specify carbonation level (still, petillant, or sparkling). Entrants MUST specify sweetness (dry or medium). Entrants MUST specify what fruit(s) and/or fruit juice(s) were added.

28C. Applewine

Vital Statistics
OG 1.070 - 1.100
FG 0.995 - 1.010
IBU -
SRM -
ABV% 9 - 12%

The term for this category is traditional but possibly misleading: it is simply a cider with substantial added sugar to achieve higher alcohol than a common cider.

Aroma: Comparable to a Common Cider. Cider character must be distinctive. Very dry to slightly medium.

Appearance: Clear to brilliant, pale to medium-gold. Cloudiness or hazes are inappropriate. Dark colors are not expected unless strongly tannic varieties of fruit were used.

Flavor: Comparable to a Common Cider. Cider character must be distinctive. Very dry to slightly medium.

Mouthfeel: Lighter than other ciders, because higher alcohol is derived from addition of sugar rather than juice. Carbonation may range from still to champagne-like.

Overall Impression: Like a dry white wine, balanced, and with low astringency and bitterness.

Comments: Entrants MUST specify carbonation level (still, petillant, or sparkling). Entrants MUST specify sweetness (dry or medium).

Commercial Examples: AeppelTreow "Appely", Irvine's Vintage Ciders.

28D. Other Specialty Cider/Perry

Vital Statistics
OG 1.045 - 1.100
FG 0.995 - 1.020
IBU -
SRM -
ABV% 5 - 12%

This is an open-ended category for cider or perry with other adjuncts such that it does not fit any of the categories above. This includes the use of spices and/or other sweeteners. A cider with added honey may be entered here if the cider character remains dominant. Otherwise it should be entered as mead in the cyser sub-category.

Aroma: The cider character must always be present, and must fit with adjuncts.

Appearance: Clear to brilliant. Color should be that of a common cider unless adjuncts are expected to contribute color.

Flavor: The cider character must always be present, and must fit with adjuncts.

Mouthfeel: Average body, may show tannic (astringent) or heavy body as determined by adjuncts.

Overall Impression:

Comments: Entrants MUST specify all major ingredients and adjuncts. Entrants MUST specify carbonation level (still, petillant, or sparkling). Entrants MUST specify sweetness (dry or medium).

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