Here's What a Cider Expert Needs to Know to Become a 'Certified Pommelier'

The United States Association of Cider Makers just released the first study guide for the program.

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Not to brag too much, but you are reading the work of a Certified Cider Professional (CCP). In 2017, I proved my cider chops by passing the CCP exam administered by the United States Association of Cider Makers (USACM). At the time, the test — which is meant primarily for those serving cider — was the highest level of certification offered by the USACM, but that’s about to change next month when the trade group administers its first exam offering proof of an even higher level of cider expertise — the chance to become a Certified Pommelier.

The first ever Certified Pommelier exam will take place on February 6 at CiderCon in Chicago, and though the test has been announced previously, today, the USACM released the official study guide for those planning on attempting to become the America’s first official Pommeliers.

The seven-page guide is presented in six sections — Apples, the Orchard & History; Cider Making; Flavor & Evaluation; Cider Styles (US and Europe); Keeping & Serving; and Food & Cider — which are the topics that will appear on the new exam. But though those topics are the same as the ones from the CCP test, the Pommelier study guide — which is more than double the length of the level one guide — has a number of differences signaling its increased level of difficulty. “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 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 USACM explains in the announcement. “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,” Michelle McGrath, the USACM’s executive director, said. “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.”

If paging through the new study guide has increased your confidence, registration for this pilot test, which costs $200, is currently open. That said, personally, I think I need a bit more time to tease apart my Bulmers Norman apples from my Roxbury Russets!

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