Portland, OR—The beer, wine and spirits industries all have recognized certification programs designed for food and beverage professionals. The hard cider industry has had its own version—the Certified Cider Professional (CCP) program—since 2016 through the United States Association of Cider Makers (USACM). Until recently, the CCP program only had one level, geared toward cider servers. Next month USACM administers the exam for the second level of the CCP program for the first time. It will be offered in Chicago during their annual trade conference, CiderCon. Those who pass the test, with its mix of short answer, essay and tasting oriented questions, will earn the title of Certified Pommelier™. USACM announced a study guide for test-taker hopefuls on their website today.
The study guide covers six sections: Apples, the Orchard & History; Cider Making; Flavor & Evaluation; Cider Styles (US and Europe); Keeping & Serving; and Food & Cider. These are the same topics covered in the level one exam, but there are noticeable differences in the suggested study concepts for the two tests. To start, the list of apples to know is greatly expanded for the new exam. Test takers are told they should be able to assign to the apples to region, style and class: bittersharp, bittersweet, sweet or sharp. These classes are determined by acid and tannin levels, and are laid out in the study guide. The second key difference is the inclusion of traditional European cider styles for the UK, Spain, France and Germany. Lastly, there are many more concepts listed in the Certified Pommelier™ study guide than in the Level 1 study guide.
“The test is designed to be challenging,” says USACM’s executive director, Michelle McGrath. “Studying is highly recommended. We have some handouts on certain topics available on our website, but the books in our recommended reading list are going to be very helpful preparation.”
The blind tasting and sensory portion of the exam may be difficult for those new to cider world. If test takers don’t have experience identifying cider flaws, McGrath suggests signing up for the ‘Elements of Cider Workshop’ being offered in Chicago on February 5.
The expansion of the CCP program is all part of the association’s vision that bars, restaurants and retailers celebrate the diversity of the cider category. USACM’s recent release of version 2.0 of their cider style guide works toward that same goal.
“Cider sales were up 10% in 2018,” added McGrath. “Enthusiasm is growing, and we hope, an expanded awareness of the cider category as a whole can help further sustain this growth.”
The association plans to offer the test four additional times in 2019. Dates and locations are yet to be announced.
You can sign up for the Certified Pommelier exam and find study aides at ciderassociation.org/certification.