Cider Association Announces Advanced Pommelier™ Certification

The United States Association of Cider Makers has added an advanced certification for experts, the Certified Pommelier.™ The USACM only recently added its own program for certifying and educating food and beverage professionals in 2016 under the Certified Cider Professional Program.

More from a press release:

Next month USACM administers the exam for the second level of the CCP program for the first time. It will be offered in Chicago during their annual trade conference, CiderCon. Those who pass the test, with its mix of short answer, essay and tasting oriented questions, will earn the title of Certified Pommelier™. USACM announced a study guide for test-taker hopefuls on their website today.

The study guide covers six sections: Apples, the Orchard & History; Cider Making; Flavor & Evaluation; Cider Styles (US and Europe); Keeping & Serving; and Food & Cider. These are the same topics covered in the level one exam, but there are noticeable differences in the suggested study concepts for the two tests. 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 to 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 stydy guide. 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,” says USACM’s executive director, Michelle McGrath. “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.”

The blind tasting and sensory portion of the exam may be difficult for those new to cider world. If test takers don’t have experience identifying cider flaws, McGrath suggests signing up for the ‘Elements of Cider Workshop’ being offered in Chicago on February 5.

The expansion of the CCP program is all part of the association’s vision that bars, restaurants and retailers celebrate the diversity of the cider category. USACM’s recent release of version 2.0 of their cider style guide works toward that same goal.

“Cider sales were up 10% in 2018,” added McGrath. “Enthusiasm is growing, and we hope, an expanded awareness of the cider category as a whole can help further sustain this growth.”

The association plans to offer the test four additional times in 2019. Dates and locations are yet to be announced.

You can sign up for the Certified Pommelier exam and find study aides at

Samurai Artist
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: