2018 U.S. Open Cider and Perry Style Guidelines

Modern Cider(Sweet & Dry) 
Category 1 – Sweet Modern Cider / Category 2 – Dry Modern Cider 
Modern Ciders are made primarily from culinary/table apples. Compared to other Standard styles, these ciders are generally lower in tannin and higher in acidity.

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.

Appearance
Brilliant, pale to yellow in color.

Mouthfeel
Medium body.

Overall Impression
A refreshing drink – not bland or watery. Sweet ciders must not be cloying. Dry ciders must not be too austere.

Comments
An ideal cider serves well as a “session” drink, and suitably accompanies a wide variety of food.

Varieties
Commonly grown varieties such as McIntosh, Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Jonathan, and Winesap. Multi-use varieties (Northern Spy, Russets, Baldwin), crabapples, and any suitable wildings may also be used.

Vital Statistics
OG: 1.045 – 1.065 FG: 0.995 – 1.020 ABV: 5 – 8%

Heritage Cider(Sweet & Dry)
Category 3 – Sweet Heritage Cider / Category 4 – Dry Heritage Cider
Heritage Ciders are made primarily from multi-use or cider-specific bittersweet/bittersharp apples, with wild or crab apples sometimes used for acidity/tannin balance. These ciders will generally be higher in tannin than Modern Ciders. Heritage Ciders will generally lack the malolactic fermentation (MLF) flavor notes often found in Traditional Ciders from England or France.

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.

Appearance
Clear to brilliant, pale to medium gold in color.

Mouthfeel
Medium body. Some tannin should be present for slight to moderate astringency, but little bitterness.

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.

Comments
An ideal cider serves well as a “session” drink, and suitably accompanies a wide variety of food.

Varieties
Multi-use (Northern Spy, Russets, Baldwin), cider-specific bittersweets and bittersharps, crabapples, any suitable wildings.

Vital Statistics
OG: 1.050 – 1.075 FG: 0.995 – 1.015 ABV: 6 – 9%

Traditional Cider(Sweet & Dry)
Category 5 – Tradition Cider Sweet(French) /  Category 6 – Traditional Cider Dry(English)
Traditional Ciders encompass those produced in the West Country of England (notably Somerset and Herefordshire), Northern France (notably Normandy and Brittany), and other regions in which cider-specific apple varieties and production techniques are used to achieve a profile similar to traditional English and French ciders.

Most ciders in the English style will be entered in the Traditional – Dry class (sweetness level is dry or medium-dry). Most ciders in the French style will be entered in the Traditional – Sweet class (sweetness level is medium, medium-sweet, or sweet). These levels indicate an overall tendency, not a sharp delineation between the sweetness of typical English and French ciders.

Introduction
English: This includes the English “West Country” ciders and other ciders inspired by that style. These ciders are made with bittersweet and bittersharp apple varieties cultivated specifically for cider making. English ciders are traditionally fermented and aged in wood barrels, which adds some character; however, the barrels used are rarely new, so there is no overt wood character.

French: This includes styles from Normandy and Brittany and other ciders inspired by those styles, including ciders made by various techniques to achieve the French flavor profile. These ciders are made with bittersweet and bittersharp apple varieties cultivated specifically for cider making.

Traditional French procedures use small amounts of salt and calcium compounds (calcium chloride, calcium carbonate) to aid the process of pectin coagulation. These compounds may be used, pre-fermentation, but in limited quantity. It is a fault if judges can detect a salty or chalky taste. The enzyme PME (pectin methyl esterase) may also be used pre-fermentation for pectin coagulation.

Aroma/Flavor
English: No overt apple character, but various flavors and esters that suggest apples, particularly tannic varieties. English-style ciders commonly go through malolactic fermentation (MLF) which produces desirable spicy/smoky, phenolic, and farmyard/old-horse characters. These flavor notes are positive but not required. If present, they must not dominate; in particular, the phenolic and farmyard notes should not be heavy. A strong farmyard character without spicy/smoky or phenolic suggests a Brettanomyces contamination, which is a fault. Mousiness is a serious fault.

French: Fruity character/aroma. This may come from slow or arrested fermentation (in the French technique of défécation) or approximated by back-sweetening with juice. Tends to a rich fullness. MLF notes of spicy-smoky, phenolic, and farmyard are common but not required (just as with English style), and must not be pronounced. The French expect more subtle MLF character than do the English.

Appearance
English: Barely cloudy to brilliant. Medium yellow to amber color.

French: Clear to brilliant, medium yellow to amber color.

Mouthfeel
English: Full. Moderate to high tannin, perceived as astringency and some bitterness. Carbonation still to moderate. Bottle-fermented or bottle-conditioned ciders may have high carbonation, up to champagne levels, but not gushing or foaming.

French: Typically made sweet to balance the tannin levels from the traditional apple varieties.Medium to sweet, full-bodied, rich. Medium to full, mouth-filling. Moderate tannin, perceived mainly as astringency. Carbonation moderate to champagne-like, but at higher levels it must not gush or foam.

Overall Impression
English: Generally dry, full-bodied, austere. Complex flavor profile, long finish.

French: Typically made sweet to balance the tannin levels from the traditional apple varieties.Medium to sweet, full-bodied, rich.

Comments
English: Sweet examples exist, but dry is most traditional, particularly when considering the drying contributions of tannin.

French: Typically made sweet to balance the tannin levels from the traditional apple varieties.

Varieties
English: Kingston Black, Stoke Red, Dabinett, Porter’s Perfection, Nehou, Yarlington Mill, Major, various Jerseys, etc.

French: Nehou, Muscadet de Dieppe, Reine des Pommes, Michelin, etc.

Vital Statistics
English: OG: 1.050 – 1.075 FG: 0.995 – 1.015 ABV: 6 – 9%
French: OG: 1.050 – 1.065 FG: 1.010 – 1.020 ABV: 3 – 6%

7 – Perry
Sub-category – New World Perry
New World perry is made from culinary/table pears.

Aroma/Flavor: There is a pear character, but not obviously fruity. It tends toward that of a young white wine. No bitterness. Appearance: Slightly cloudy to clear. Generally quite pale.

Mouthfeel: Relatively full, low to moderate tannin apparent as astringency.

Overall Impression: Mild. Medium to medium-sweet. Still to lightly sparkling. Only very slight acetification is acceptable. Mousiness, ropy/oily characters are serious faults.

Comments: Some table pears may contain significant amounts of sorbitol, in which case a “dry” perry may give an impression of sweetness due to sorbitol in the pears. Perception of sorbitol as “sweet” is highly variable from one person to the next. Hence, entrants should specify sweetness according to actual residual sugar amount, and judges must be aware that they might perceive more sweetness than how the perry was entered.

ABV: 5 – 7%

Sub- Category Traditional Perry
Traditional perry is made from pears grown specifically for that purpose rather than for eating or cooking. Many “perry pears” are nearly inedible due to high tannins; some are also quite hard. Perry pears may contain substantial amounts of sorbitol, a non-fermentable sweet-tasting compound. Hence a perry can be completely dry (no residual sugar) yet taste sweet.

Aroma/Flavor: There is a pear character, but not obviously fruity. It tends toward that of a young white wine. Some slight bitterness.

Appearance: Slightly cloudy to clear. Generally quite pale.

Mouthfeel: Relatively full, moderate to high tannin apparent as astringency.

Overall Impression: Tannic. Medium to medium-sweet. Still to lightly sparkling. Only very slight acetification is acceptable. Mousiness and ropy/oily characters are serious faults.

Comments: Note that a “dry” perry may give an impression of sweetness due to sorbitol in the pears, and perception of sorbitol as “sweet” is highly variable from one person to the next. Hence entrants should specify sweetness according to actual residual sugar amount, and judges must be aware that they might perceive more sweetness than how the perry was entered.

Varieties: Butt, Gin, Brandy, Barland, Blakeney Red, Thorn, Moorcroft, etc.

ABV: 5 – 9%

8 – Fruit Cider
This is a cider with other fruits or fruit-juices added.. Note that a “cider” made from a combination of apple and pear juice would be entered in this category since it is neither cider nor perry. (Pineapple has its own category)

Aroma/Flavor: The cider character must be present and must fit with the other fruits. It is a fault if the added fruit(s) completely dominate; a judge might ask, “Would this be different if neutral spirits replaced the cider?” A fruit cider should not be like an alco-pop. Oxidation is a fault.

Appearance: Clear to brilliant. Color appropriate to added fruit, but should not show oxidation characteristics. (For example, red berries should give red-to-purple color, not orange.)

Mouthfeel: Substantial. May be significantly tannic, depending on fruit added.

Category 9 – Pineapple Cider
This is a cider with Pineapple or Pineapple Juices.

Aroma/Flavor: The cider character must be present and must fit with the pineapple or pinapple juice.

Appearance: Clear to brilliant.

Category 10 – Cherry Cider
This is a cider with Cherries or Cherry Juices.

Aroma/Flavor: The cider character must be present and must fit with the Cherries or Cherry Juices.

Appearance: Clear to brilliant.

Category 11 – Fruit and Berry Cider
This is a cider with other berry or berry-juices added.

Aroma/Flavor: The cider character must be present and must fit with the berries or berry juice. It is a fault if the added berry completely dominate; a judge might ask, “Would this be different if neutral spirits replaced the cider?”

Appearance: Clear to brilliant. Color appropriate to added berry, but should not show oxidation characteristics. (For example, red berries should give red-to-purple color, not orange.)

Mouthfeel: Substantial. May be significantly tannic, depending on berry added.

Category 12 – 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.

Aroma/Flavor: Comparable to a New World Cider. Cider character must be distinctive. Very dry to sweet, although often dry.

Appearance: Clear to brilliant, pale to medium-gold. Cloudiness or hazes are inappropriate.

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.

Overall Impression: Typically like a dry white wine, balanced, and with low astringency and bitterness.

ABV: 9 – 12%

Category 13 – Herbal Ciders
This is a cider with any combination of “botanicals” added. Hopped ciders are included in this category. Other examples are ciders with lemon grass, herbal tea blends, etc.

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.

Appearance: Clear to brilliant. Color appropriate to added botanicals.

Mouthfeel: Average or more. Cider may be tannic from effect of botanicals but must not be bitter from over-extraction.

Overall Impression: Like a white wine with complex flavors. The apple character must marry with the botanicals and give a balanced result.

Entry Instructions: Entrants MUST specify all botanicals added. If hops are used, entrant must specify variety/varieties used.

ABV: 5 – 9%

Category 14 – Hopped Cider
Hopped Ciders are ciders with added hops. Ciders with other added herbal or botanical elements (lemongrass, flower petals, tea blends, etc.) should be entered in Specialty Cider and Perry.

Aroma/Flavor
The cider character must be present and must fit with the hops. As with a Fruit Cider, it is a fault if the hops dominate; a judge might ask, “Would this be different if neutral spirits replaced the cider?” Oxidation of either the base cider or the hop additions is a fault.

Appearance
Clear to brilliant. Hop additions generally do not contribute much color.

Mouthfeel
Average or more. Cider may be tannic from effect of hops but must not be overly bitter.

Overall Impression
Like a white wine with complex flavors. The apple character must marry with the hops and give a balanced result.

Vital Statistics
OG: 1.045 – 1.070 FG: 0.995 – 1.010 ABV: 5 – 9%

Category 15 – Apple Pie Spiced Cider
This is a cider with any combination of spices added, such as “apple pie” spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice).

Aroma/Flavor: The cider character must be present and must fit with the spices. As with a fruit cider, it is a fault if the spices 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.

Appearance: Clear to brilliant. Color appropriate to added spices.

Mouthfeel: Average or more. Cider may be tannic from effect of spices but must not be bitter from over-extraction.

Overall Impression: Like a white wine with complex flavors. The apple character must marry with the spices and give a balanced result.

ABV: 5 – 9%

Category 16 – Spiced Cider
This is a cider with any combination of spices added

Aroma/Flavor: The cider character must be present and must fit with the spices. As with a fruit cider, it is a fault if the spices 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.

Appearance: Clear to brilliant. Color appropriate to added spices.

Mouthfeel: Average or more. Cider may be tannic from effect of spices but must not be bitter from over-extraction.

Overall Impression: Like a white wine with complex flavors. The apple character must marry with the spices and give a balanced result.

ABV: 5 – 9%

Category 17 – Wood-Aged Cider
This category is for wood-fermented or wood-aged ciders in which the wood/barrel character is a significant part of the overall flavor profile.

Use of newer wood that has not reached a flavor‐neutral condition, either as storage vessels or as batch additions such as wood chips, is now generally considered to be a stylistic option for adding to the complexity of the flavor of a cider and an added element to mouthfeel.

If the wood holds the flavor of another liquid (beer, wine, spirits) or another flavored substance with which it has been in contact, or if wood is used in conjunction with another liquid or flavored substance to produce the same effect, then this is an appropriate category for such cider.

There is a wide continuum of intensity of flavor based on proportion of wood used to the cider and previous use of the wood. There may also be significant subtlety in flavors in a base cider. Consequently, subtlety of wood and/or beer/wine/spirit notes will not be regarded as a fault provided they are detectable, recognizable, and balanced well with the base cider.

Aroma/Flavor: The cider character must always be present, and must fit with wood/barrel character.

Appearance: Clear to brilliant. Color should be that of a standard cider unless wood/barrel character is expected to contribute color.

Mouthfeel: Average body, may show tannic (astringent) or heavy body as determined by wood/barrel character.

ABV: 5 – 12%

Category 18 – Specialty Cider and 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.

Aroma/Flavor: The cider character must always be present, and must fit with added ingredients.

Appearance: Clear to brilliant. Color should be that of a standard cider unless other ingredients are expected to contribute color.

Mouthfeel: Average body, may show tannic (astringent) or heavy body as determined by other ingredients.

ABV: 5 – 12%

19 – Unlimited Cider and Perry
By style this may approximate a standard cider or perry but by ingredients be considered a Specialty Cider. This subcategory is for the large-scale mass-market products that are marketed as standard cider by style, but use specialty (modern) techniques in production (i.e. high brix fermentation, amelioration, and flavorings). Distinguished from the standard category by having things like ‘carbonated water’ or ‘natural and artificial flavors’ on the FDA-required ingredients statement on the label. Entries made in this category are exempt from testing for 85% minimum juice content.

Category 20 – Anything Goes Cider and Perry
This category will be judged solely at the judges discretion.

Category 21 – Single Varietal
This is a cider made with a single varietal apple.
ABV: Will vary depending on apple used.
FG: Will vary depending on apple used.
Appearance: Should be appropriate to apple used.
Mouthfeel: Medium to light body, moderate astringency and bitterness
Aroma/Flavor: Will vary depending upon apple used

Category 22 – Ice Ciders
Ice Cider is a style that originated in Quebec in the 1990s. Juice is concentrated before fermentation, either by freezing the fruit before pressing it, or by freezing the juice and then removing water as it thaws. The fermentation stops or is arrested before the cider reaches dryness. No additives are permitted in this style; in particular, sweeteners may not be used to increase gravity.  The character differs from a chaptalized cider (applewine) in that the ice cider process increases not only the sugar (hence alcohol) but also the acidity and all fruit flavor components proportionately.

Aroma/Flavor
Fruity, smooth, sweet-tart. Acidity must be enough to prevent it being cloying.

Appearance
Brilliant. Color is deeper than a Standard cider, gold to amber.

Mouthfeel
Full body. May be tannic (astringent and/or bitter) but this should be slight, to moderate at most.

Vital Statistics
ABV: 7 – 13%

Guidelines taken from the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition