US Cider Association Updates Hard Cider Guidelines with 5 New Styles

The United States Association of Cider Makers has updated the national Cider Style Guide with five new styles. The US Cider Association only introduced the style guidelines a little more than a year ago, in summer of 2017. USACM designed the cider guide so that there was a better way to classify and talk about cider in the marketplace. In the new release, existing style guidelines were updated while five new styles were added for recognition, with now 15 styles of cider outlined.

More from a press release:

The new additions include the following. (1) Botanical ciders were split up from spiced ciders. Two sub-categories of rosé cider were added: (2) heritage rosé, which gets its color from red-fleshed apples, and (3) modern rosé, which gets its color from other fruits or botanicals. (4) The lesser-known but traditional New England Style Cider was added, sometimes described as apple wine with raisins. Lastly, a catch all category for outliers is now included, referred to as (5) specialty cider and perry.

USACM’s executive director Michelle McGrath, commented on the process, “A lot of thought went into these updates—stakeholders supplied comments and some very intense conversations about the implications were held. But in the end, the consensus from the board was strong. We felt like these changes reflect the growing diversification of the market, and we want to arm cider makers, distributors, retailers, servers and consumers with the ability to understand and discuss that diversity.”

Two of the new styles added to the guide fall under the hugely popular rosé cider category. “Defining the two substyles of rosé cider was a very exciting proposition for USACM,” said Paul Vander Heide, USACM board president.

For modern ciders, rosé describes the color of the product. That color nuance can be produced with many different fruits or botanicals which will also change the flavor profile of the cider.  For heritage rosé ciders, a pink color is achieved through the use of widely unknown red-fleshed apple varieties.

“Our mission here is to educate folks about the amazing diversity of cider products available in the US today,” added Vander Heide.

McGrath reports that the marketplace is beginning to adopt the terms introduced in Version 1.0 of the style guide. “Cider makers are embracing themselves as modern or heritage producers, because it helps them provide expectations to their consumers. I’ve seen it used on labels, by tasting room employees, on cans and bottles, and now—in New Hampshire—there is even an ‘American Heritage Cider’ section in their state liquor stores. Perhaps most importantly, the media is beginning to talk about cider as a category with diverse options. It’s working and we’re so excited,” McGrath exclaimed.

USACM will release an illustrated style poster this winter for tap rooms and tasting rooms. The updated guidelines can be found on USACM’s website (download here). They will open the guide for comment every summer and will make annual updates when warranted.


The USACM is an organization of cider and perry producers in the United States. Their 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.

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Samurai Artist

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: