The American Cider Association is thrilled to announce that twenty people have newly earned the title of Certified Pommelier™ as a result of the exam held at CiderCon® 2023 in Chicago, Illinois last month. It is the largest passing cohort of any Certified Pommelier™ exam to date.
The new Certified Pommeliers™ are: Ann Marie Thornton of James Creek Cider House (NC), Anthony Lopez of Casa de Oro Cider (CA), Brian Wing, James Kerr & Khris Johnson of Green Bench Brewing (FL), Cam Workman of Schilling Cider (WA), Casey Simpson of Artifact Cider Project (MA), Danny Dispo of Hydraulic Hearth (NY), David Lugo of the Clyde Theatre (IN), Deirdre Birmingham of The Cider Farm (WI), Geoff Happel (NC), Ian Niblock (VA), Karl Hartdegen (NC) & Max Finnance (CT) of Bold Rock Hard Cider (NC), Janelle Balsillie of Carolinia Cider Company and Heeman’s Cidery and Meadery (ON, Canada), Joseph Nosse of Frontier Ciderworks (OH), Sarah Pozgay of Twin Cities Somms (MN), Walker Smith of Goldeneye Cider (WA), cidermaker Eric Gasser (CA), and cider enthusiast Brandon Buza (CA).
Cider is a beautifully nuanced beverage with a diverse set of elements that are often less understood by food and beverage professionals. Certifications are increasingly used in the professional realm to set oneself apart as an individual with specialized knowledge, though cider is often covered in a cursory manner by most certification programs, if at all. This led the American Cider Association to establish its Certified Cider Professional (CCP) program to educate those on the front-line of cider sales. Today it is the world’s most comprehensive and in-depth cider certification program for beverage professionals.
The Certified Cider Professional program began with a Level 1 certification to help those in the industry develop a fundamental understanding of cider. The Certified Pommelier™ certification was developed to move beyond a fundamental understanding and to encourage cider professionals to think critically while demonstrating a higher understanding of the elements of cider. The rigorous test consists of five types of questions: short answer, fill in the blank, matching, essay and blind sensory (based on tasting). Test questions fall into seven categories: Apples, the Orchard & History, Cidermaking, Evaluation, Families & Flavor, Keeping & Serving, Food & Cider and Social Responsibility.
“To see twenty people pass the Certified Pommelier™ exam in one sitting is remarkable for many reasons,” says Michelle McGrath, CEO of the ACA. “People are valuing the Certified Pommelier™ designation and putting in the hard work of preparing for the exam. It’s exciting to watch ACA’s cider appreciation program grow and succeed.”
While the Certified Pommelier™ exam is designed to be challenging, the ACA is dedicated to making sure all the information tested on is accessible to those desiring to learn. To that end, the ACA recently announced the release of their new textbook to help candidates prepare to take the exam. Those interested in preparing for the exam can purchase the new textbook through Kindle Direct Publishing. In addition, sensory analysis practice webinars and a Facebook study group are continually being updated with resources for candidates studying for the exam. Links to all CCP resources can be found on the ACA’s website.
“We have seen a huge advantage for candidates that utilize the study aides we make available,” states Jennie Dorsey, ACA’s Cider Education Outreach Manager. “We’ve also witnessed new professional connections form through ACA prep-webinars and informal study groups. It’s exciting to see networking as one of the CCP program’s many positive impacts on the cider community.”
The ACA asks that you contact Cider Education Outreach Manager Jennie Dorsey if you have questions about the program or are interested in taking either the Level 1 Certified Cider Professional test or the Certified Pommelier™ exam.
The next Certified Pommelier™ exam will be scheduled for the Bay Area of California in September, and more tests dates will be announced shortly. You can also learn more at https://ciderassociation.org/certification.
The American Cider Association is an organization of cider and perry producers in the United States. Our 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.