The United States Association of Cider Makers (USACM) is excited to offer two opportunities to take the Certified Pommelier™ Exam next month: May 15 in Grand Rapids, Michigan and May 22 in Brooklyn, New York.
The USACM is dedicated to promoting cider education, in particular through its Certified Cider Professional (CCP) program. The mission of the program is to arm the people on the frontline of cider sales–distributors, retailers, bar tenders, beverage directors, tasting room managers, bar managers and sales representatives–with the knowledge they need to help a consumer find a cider they will enjoy. The introductory level certification is offered as an online test that can be taken at any time. The next level of certification–the Certified Pommelier™–is achieved through an in-person, written exam with a mixture of questions in a variety of formats, including short answer and essay, as well as a tasting exam.
“We believe that the ability to understand a cider’s aromas and flavors, what they are and where they come from, is key for everyone that connects the cider maker with the ultimate consumer, ” said CCP program contributor, Darlene Hayes, “so this exam places a lot of emphasis on that.”
The CCP program covers six subject areas: 1) Apples, the Orchard & History (2) Cider Making (3) Flavor & Evaluation (4) Food & Cider (5) Keeping & Serving (6) Cider Styles. The cider styles referenced are found in the USACM Cider Style Guide (V2.0) and supplemental handouts provided on the USACM website.
“Although the introductory certification exam covers the same general topics, the level of knowledge required for the Certified Pommelier™ exam is significantly higher,” explained USACM’s executive director, Michelle McGrath. “The tasting portion alone is a big jump up in required skills, and we highly recommend people pay close attention to the detailed study guides we offer.”
The USACM offered a pilot version of the Certified Pommelier™ exam in February in Chicago as part of their annual conference, CiderCon.
“One area that appeared to take participants by surprise were the essay questions on cider and food pairing. We really want people to understand the basic principles of food pairing. We recommended would-be-test-takers do independent research on the principles laid out in the study guide,” shared CCP program contributor, Jennie Dorsey. Dorsey encourages test-takers to prepare by experimenting with their own pairings, breaking down the components for what works and what does not.
The CCP program is one way that the USACM believes it can help to build the cider market.
“A truly knowledgeable sales person can enhance a consumer’s experience by not only assisting that consumer to select a cider that they will love, but by helping them understand what makes it special. Engaged consumers are key to cider’s long term growth,” said McGrath. “Cider has been struggling in the on-premise category recently. We designed the CCP program to address sales in that channel and educate beverage professionals that may have just a cursory familiarity with cider. For example, how many beverage directors know that apples fall into four classes–sweet, sharp, bittersweet or bittersharp–and how using them in different combinations can impact a given cider’s flavor? Knowledge like this in frontline personnel will boost cider sales, bridge the gap between cider makers and cider drinkers, and promote a greater understanding of the cider category as a whole.”
Members of USACM receive significant discounts for both the intro level and Certified Pommelier™ exam fees. Additional test opportunities are being scheduled for 2019 as well as during CiderCon 2020 in Oakland, California (January 28-31, 2020). Intro level certification is a prerequisite to take the Certified Pommelier™ exam. More information, including registration and study materials, can be found on the USACM website.
The USACM is an organization of cider and perry producers in the United States. Our mission is to grow a diverse and successful U.S. cider industry by providing valuable information, resources and services to our members and by advocating on their behalf.