Everyone pretty much agrees that cider is made from apples. Well, not everyone. But even though the majority are in consensus on what cider comes from, they don't seem to agree on what terms are used to describe a cider in its finished form.
Today, that changes. The United States Association of Cider Makers (USACM) has announced the first step in its ongoing project to develop and document a lexicon for cider. The style guide, which is available for download here, is five pages and sets out a basic requirement for what makes a particular type of cider a member of that class. Just like "beer" can be a porter or an ale, so too can there be a depth of diversity in the variety of what we call "cider".
There are two main styles that the document classifies, each with its own substyles. "Standard Cider" and "Specialty Cider" each form their own class.
With Standard Ciders, there are both Modern and Heritage styles of both apple and pear for four total subtypes. Heritage apple ciders are marked by a typically higher tannin content than modern ciders, and also typically use heirloom apple varieties versus dessert/table apples for modern ciders.In Connecticut, for example, most ciders you come across are going to fall into the Modern style being made mostly from dessert apples. There are a few exceptions with Yankee Cider Company having some heritage varieties of apples still maturing in the orchard.
But it's under the second section where the real fun begins: The Specialty Ciders. I've written more about What Makes A Cider A Cider before, and the first of the Specialty Ciders speaks right to my points about non-apple ciders: A fruit cider, under the new "industry standard" definition is one which has had fruit or fruit juice added to the apple base. This definition includes ciders for which the fruit has been added both before or after fermentation.
Other Specialty Ciders include Spiced, Wood-Aged, Sour, Ice, and the ever-increasingly-popular Hopped. Both wood-aged and spiced are abundant in Connecticut at the time of writing, and I'd expect that a hopped cider or two will be popping up soon, most probably from Spoke And Spy Ciderworks once it is up and running.
What do you think? Are you happy to have a set of definitions to help inform your buying? What styles would you like to see more of from Connecticut cideries? Let us know in the comments!