Specialty Cider and Perry

Source: 2015 Beer Judge Certification Program Guidelines

The Beer Judge Certification Program, Inc. (BJCP) is a world-wide certifying organization for judges of beer and related fermented products. Founded in 1985, we now have a presence in over 60 countries and have more than 7500 active judges in the program. Judges are certified through an examination covering technical aspects of brewing, world beer styles, the purpose of the BJCP, and judging procedures, and by demonstrating practical judging skills. Judges are ranked based on their examination scores and accumulation of practical judging experience.

Specialty cider/perry includes beverages made with added flavorings (spices and/or other fruits), those made with substantial amounts of sugar-sources to increase starting gravities, and the beverage made from a combination of apple and pear juice (sometimes called pider).

C2A. New England Cider

A New World Cider is made from culinary/table apples, with wild or crab apples often used for acidity/tannin balance. Compared to other styles in this category, these ciders are generally relatively lower in tannin and higher in acidity. “New World” references the style, not a location, as ciders in this style are also made in eastern England, Australia, Germany, etc.
Overall Impression: A refreshing drink of some substance – not bland or watery. Sweet ciders must not be cloying. Dry ciders must not be too austere.
Appearance: Clear to brilliant, pale to medium gold in color.
Aroma / Flavor: Sweet or low-alcohol ciders may have apple aroma and flavor. Dry ciders will be more wine-like with some esters. Sugar and acidity should combine to give a refreshing character. Acidity is medium to high, refreshing, but must not be harsh or biting.
Mouthfeel: Medium body. Some tannin should be present for slight to moderate astringency, but little bitterness.
Comments: An ideal cider serves well as a “session” drink, and suitably accompanies a wide variety of food.
Characteristic Ingredients: Apple Varieties: Common (Winesap, Macintosh, Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Jonathan), multi-use (Northern Spy, Russets, Baldwin), crabapples, any suitable wildings.

Original Gravity: 1.060 – 1.100
Final Gravity: 0.995 – 1.020
Alcohol by Weight: 7% – 13% 

C2B. Cider with Other Fruit

This is a cider made with characteristic New England apples for relatively high acidity, with additives to raise alcohol levels and contribute additional flavor notes.
Overall Impression: Substantial body and character. Typically relatively dry, but can be somewhat sweet if in balance and not containing hot alcohol.
Appearance: Clear to brilliant, pale to medium yellow.
Aroma / Flavor: A flavorful cider with robust apple character, strong alcohol, and derivative flavors from sugar additives; traditionally dry.
Mouthfeel: Substantial, alcoholic. Moderate tannin.
Comments: Additives may include white and brown sugars, molasses, small amounts of honey, and raisins. Additives are intended to raise OG well above that which would be achieved by apples alone. This style is sometimes barrel-aged, in which case there will be oak character as with a barrel-aged wine. If the barrel was formerly used to age spirits, some flavor notes from the spirit (e.g., whisky or rum) may also be present, but must be subtle.
Characteristic Ingredients: Apple Varieties: Northern Spy, Roxbury Russet, Golden Russet, Baldwin, etc.; many traditional New England apples.

Original Gravity: 1.045 – 1.070
Final Gravity: 0.995 – 1.010
Alcohol by Weight:5% – 9%

C2C. Applewine

The term for this category is traditional but possibly misleading: it is simply a cider with substantial added sugar to achieve higher alcohol than a standard cider. As such it comes closer to a white wine than any other style. No fruit other than apples may be used in this style.
Overall Impression: Typically like a dry white wine, balanced, and with low astringency and bitterness.
Appearance: Clear to brilliant, pale to medium-gold. Cloudiness or hazes are inappropriate.
Aroma / Flavor: Comparable to a New World Cider. Cider character must be distinctive. Very dry to sweet, although often dry.
Mouthfeel: Lighter than other ciders, because higher alcohol is derived from addition of sugar rather than juice. Carbonation may range from still to champagne-like.

Original Gravity: 1.070 – 1.100
Final Gravity: 0.995 – 1.020
Alcohol by Weight: 9% – 12%

C2D. Ice Cider

This is a cider style in which the juice is concentrated before fermentation either by freezing fruit before pressing or freezing juice and removing water. Fermentation stops or is arrested before reaching dryness. The character differs from Applewine in that the ice cider process increases not only sugar (hence alcohol) but acidity and all fruit flavor components proportionately. No additives are permitted in this style; in particular, sweeteners may not be used to increase gravity. This style originated in Quebec in the 1990s.
Appearance: Brilliant. Color is deeper than a standard cider, gold to amber.
Aroma / Flavor: Fruity, smooth, sweet-tart. Acidity must be enough to prevent it being cloying.
Mouthfeel: Full body. May be tannic (astringent and/or bitter) but this should be slight, to moderate at most.
Characteristic Ingredients: Apple Varieties: Usually North American classic table fruit such as McIntosh or Cortland.

Original Gravity: 1.130 – 1.180
Final Gravity: 1.060 – 1.085
Alcohol by Weight: 7% – 13% 

C2E. Cider with Herbs/Spices

This is a cider with any combination of “botanicals” added. Hopped ciders are included in this category. Other examples are ciders with “apple pie” spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice), ginger, lemon grass, herbal tea blends, etc.
Overall Impression: Like a white wine with complex flavors. The apple character must marry with the botanicals and give a balanced result.
Appearance: Clear to brilliant. Color appropriate to added botanicals.
Aroma / Flavor: The cider character must be present and must fit with the botanicals. As with a fruit cider, it is a fault if the botanicals dominate; a judge might ask, Would this be different if neutral spirits replaced the cider? Oxidation of either the base cider or the additions is a fault.
Mouthfeel: Average or more. Cider may be tannic from effect of botanicals but must not be bitter from over-extraction.

Original Gravity: 1.045-1.070 
Final Gravity: 0.995 – 1.010
Alcohol by Weight: 5%-9% 



C2F. Specialty Cider/Perry

This is an open-ended category for cider or perry with other ingredients such that it does not fit any of the categories above. This includes the use of other sweeteners. A cider with added honey may be entered here if the cider character remains dominant; otherwise it should be entered as mead in the cyser sub-category. Examples also include wood-fermented or aged ciders in which the wood/barrel character is a significant part of the overall flavor profile.
Appearance: Clear to brilliant. Color should be that of a standard cider unless other ingredients are expected to contribute color.
Aroma / Flavor: The cider character must always be present, and must fit with added ingredients. If a spirit barrel was used, the character of the spirit (rum, whiskey, etc.) must be no more than just recognizable; it must not be a substantial element of the flavor.
Mouthfeel: Average body, may show tannic (astringent) or heavy body as determined by other ingredients.

Original Gravity: 1.045 – 1.100
Final Gravity: 0.995 – 1.020
Alcohol by Weight:  5% – 12%