Test Driving a Cider Lexicon

The American Cider Association introduced our first cider style guide in 2017.  Our ultimate target audience was consumers. How can we help consumers find a cider they like and come back to the category again and again, and how can we advance this goal by training beverage professionals, the folks that interface between the producer and consumers?

We stipulated from the start that the style guide was meant to be an evolving document that could grow with the industry. The release of the guide sparked critical conversations about the power of words, how consumers interact with cider, and how the guide could be improved to further facilitate those interactions. We made minor changes in the 2018 version, but after training hundreds of people through our Certified Cider Professionals program we came to the conclusion that the current vision of the guidelines was not as effective as we wanted it to be.

We are happy to share with you this latest evolution in language. It was developed based on industry feedback as well as our experience training Certified Cider Professionals. Our goal is to use this language to teach the beverage and hospitality industries about cider and to align on the language we use to describe a cider while maintaining the flexibility to celebrate regionality. We are soliciting your input on this updated approach. 

 Key changes include: 

  • Simpler product families focused on the ingredients paired with more objective terms for describing the thing that matters most to a consumer : How does it taste?
    • Does it taste dry or sweet?
    • Is it tart? Spicy? Sour? Floral?
    • Is it fruit-forward or tannic?
    • Is it light, medium, or full-bodied?
    • Does it taste like the adjunct? 
  • Focusing on the accepted scientific classifications of apples: sweet, sharp, bittersweet and bittersharp. 
  • The introduction of a lexicon with descriptive phrases and terms that tell the consumer more about how the cider was made and how it tastes, many that are already widely used within the beverages industries.

Please review the following lexicon framework from the view of a consumer. Is there something we’ve missed? Something we need to consider cutting?  We appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with us. You can contact us specifically about this project at lexicon@ciderassociation.org.

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