PICC Categories

ENTRY INFORMATION  – ENTRY FORM – CIDER CATEGORIES – JUDGE SCORESHEETS [coming soon]

A1. Common Dry
A2. Common Sweet
B1. English Dry
B2. English Sweet
C. French
D. Hopped
E. Wild/Non-Saccharomyces
F. Spiced/Herbed
G. Wood/Oaked
H. Fruit (pear, cherry, stonefruit, canefruit, other)
I. Specialty

A1. Common Dry (<1.007 FG)

A2. Common Sweet (>1.007 FG):

(These two distinct categories are sweetness subdivisions of BJCP category 27A. The style guidelines below are borrowed from the BJCP but note that the subcategories break down the final gravity. It is the choice of the entrants to decide which sweetness category to enter into. The organizers and judges will not perform their own gravity readings but will expect perceived sweetness levels based on the category.)

A common cider is made from culinary/table apples, with wild or crab apples often used for acidity/tannin balance.

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, neither cloying nor too austere. Medium to high acidity.

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: Variable, but should be a medium, refreshing drink. Sweet ciders must not be cloying. Dry ciders must not be too austere. An ideal cider serves well as a “session” drink, and suitably accompanies a wide variety of food.

Comments: Entrants MUST specify carbonation level (still, petillant, or sparkling). Entrants MUST specify sweetness (dry, medium, sweet).

Apple Varieties: Common (Winesap, Macintosh, Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Jonathan), multi-use (Northern Spy, Russets, Baldwin), crabapples, any suitable wildings.

Commercial Examples: Numerous

B1. English Dry (<1.007 FG)

B2. English Sweet (>1.007 FG)

(These two distinct categories are sweetness subdivisions of BJCP category 27B. The style guidelines below are borrowed from the BJCP but note that the subcategories break down the final gravity. It is the choice of the entrants to decide which sweetness category to enter into. The organizers and judges will not perform their own gravity readings but will expect perceived sweetness levels based on the category.)

This includes the English “West Country” plus ciders inspired by that style. These ciders are made with bittersweet and bittersharp apple varieties cultivated specifically for cider making.

Aroma/Flavor: No overt apple character, but various flavors and esters that suggest apples. May have “smoky (bacon)” character from a combination of apple varieties and MLF. Some “Farmyard nose” may be present but must not dominate; mousiness is a serious fault. The common slight farmyard nose of an English West Country cider is the result of lactic acid bacteria, not a Brettanomyces contamination.

Appearance: Slightly cloudy to brilliant. Medium to deep gold color.

Mouthfeel: Full. Moderate to high tannin apparent as astringency and some bitterness. Carbonation still to moderate, never high or gushing.

Overall Impression: Generally dry, full-bodied, austere.

Comments: Entrants MUST specify carbonation level (still or petillant). Entrants MUST specify sweetness (dry to medium). Entrants MAY specify variety of apple for a single varietal cider; if specified, varietal character will be expected.

Apple Varieties: Kingston Black, Stoke Red, Dabinett, Foxwhelp, Yarlington Mill, various Jerseys, etc.

Commercial Examples: [US] Westcott Bay Traditional Very Dry, Traditional Dry and Traditional Medium Sweet (WA), Wandering Aengus Bloom (B2 Sweet) and Wandering Aengus Wanderlust (B1 Dry) (OR)

C. French

(This category generally follows BJCP category 27C. The style guidelines below are borrowed from the BJCP.)

This includes Normandy styles plus ciders inspired by those styles, including ciders made by various techniques to achieve the French flavor profile. These ciders are made with bittersweet and bitter-sharp apple varieties cultivated specifically for cider making. Traditional French procedures may 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.

Aroma/Flavor: 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.

Appearance: Clear to brilliant, medium to deep gold color.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full, mouth filling. Moderate tannin apparent mainly as astringency. Carbonation moderate to champagne-like, but at higher levels it must not gush or foam.

Overall Impression: Medium to sweet, full-bodied, rich.

Comments: Entrants MUST specify carbonation level (petillant or full). Entrants MUST specify sweetness (medium, sweet). Entrants MAY specify variety of apple for a single varietal cider; if specified, varietal character will be expected.

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

Commercial Examples: EZ Orchards 2009, 2010, 2011

D. Hopped Cider:

Typically a common cider made from culinary/dessert apples with the added aroma and flavor of hops. Entrants must specify the base cider style (A Common, B English, C French).

Aroma/Flavor: Varies from dry to sweet. May have apple aroma and flavor. Must have hop aroma, may be lightly hop flavored. Hop bitterness should be light and may be nonexistent. Hop varieties may provide aromas of tropical/fruity/citrusy or woody/piney. Sweet hopped ciders should be sweetened to accentuate hop profile, not too cloying.

Appearance: Slight haze to brilliant, pale to medium gold in color.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Hops may provide some bittering. Some tannin may be present for slight astringency.

Overall Impression: Should be a moderately complex yet light drink. Sweetened ciders must not be cloying. A distinct hop aroma must be present. Note that freshly-hopped ciders (using wet/fresh hops) may exhibit distinctly different aromas and flavors (grassy, plant-y) than using dried hops. Ideal hopped cider should be easy to drink and pair well with food.

Apple Varieties: Commonly made with culinary apples (pink lady, golden delicious, red delicious, fuji) and aromatic hops (cascade, amarillo, citra, chinook, simcoe).

Commercial Examples: Tieton Dry Hopped, Finnriver Dry Hopped, Anthem Hop

E: Wild/Non-Sac Cider:

Varies from Common to English to French style in presentation but overriding all should be complexity of the fermentation and potentially noticeable yet not overriding “faults”. Aromas/flavors such as band-aid, mouse, rotting leaves and farmyard may not be considered a fault in this category provided the overall drink is enjoyable, in balance, and those aromas/tastes are subtle.

Aroma/Flavor: May include yeasty/bready notes, souring/puckering, rotting apples, moldy cheese. Sulphur/H2S is not acceptable except in minor amounts and not out of balance.

Appearance: Varies from cloudy to brilliant, pale to amber in color.

Mouthfeel: Body varies. Tannins may contribute astringency.

Overall Impression: The greatest capacity for expression exists in the judge’s overall impression. For instance, if the entrant notes describe a pediococcus fermentation, the judges will look for corresponding flavors.

Comments: If using commercial yeast cultures, entrants must specify the cultures used and approximate proportion. For instance, brettanomyces bruxellensis or lactobacillus.

Apple Varieties: varies

Commercial Examples: Reverend Nat’s Sacrilege Sour Cherry

F. Spiced/Herbed

Aroma and flavor should balance herbs or spices used with the flavors of the cider. Base cider style and herbs or spices used should be specified on entry form.

Aroma/Flavor: Entry form must specify the herbs and/or spices used and the judging will be based on the expectations set by the form. Examples include cinnamon/nutmeg/cloves, ginger, hot pepper, raisins. Spices/herbs used must be in balance and the flavor of apple cider must be present.

Appearance: Varies from cloudy to brilliant, pale to amber in color.

Mouthfeel: Body varies and may linger due to flavors added.

Overall Impression: Should be a moderately complex drink.

Apple Varieties: Typically culinary apples

Commercial Examples: Reverend Nat’s Deliverance Ginger, Finnriver Forest Fir, 2 Towns Nice & Naughty

G. Wood/Oaked

Base cider type and wood used should be specified, including type of spirits barrel if applicable. Barrel aged, wood chips, spirals and cubes may be used. Non-oak wood should be noted on the entry form. Ciders must exhibit some flavors or aromas of wood aging.

Aroma/Flavor: The base cider type should be in balance with the wood flavors present. Wood flavors that overwhelm the base cider would be considered a fault. Non-saccharomyces flavors may be present but should be subtle (“smoky bacon” from MLF).

Appearance: Varies from cloudy to brilliant, pale to amber in color.

Mouthfeel: Body should linger and the underlying cider should contribute. Thin watery ciders with oak additions may not provide enough body.

Overall Impression: Wood and oak flavors should complement the original base cider instead of trying to provide flavor for a base cider without any. Flavors should be in balance but the cider may be somewhat challenging to drink.

Commercial Examples: Wandering Aengus Dry Oaked, Finnriver Fire Barrel

H. Fruit Ciders:

(Organizers will judge each of the subcategories separately if number of entries warrants. Subcategory division will be made solely at the discretion of the judges and competition organizers and made be done as late as the day of the judging. Please specify base cider type and fruit used. Entrants MUST specific one of the following subcategories.)

Subcategories:
1. Pear cider
2. Cherry cider (pie or sweet cherries)
3. Stonefruit ciders (peaches, apricots, plums, mangos)
4. Canefruit ciders (raspberries, blackberries, marionberries, etc)
5. Other berries & fruits (blueberries, currants, cranberries, banana, orange etc)

Aroma/Flavor: Always fruity in flavor and aroma, but the ciders must remain cidery in nature as opposed to fruit-flavored alcohol.

Appearance: Typically colored due to fruit flavoring but not required. Varies from cloudy to brilliant.

Mouthfeel: Depending on the fruit added, the cider may be simple and quick or linger. Puckering and astringency from fruit may be present but should be pleasing and in line with expectations from the fruit. I.e. mango cider should not be astringent but cranberry should.

Overall Impression: The cider should generally be easily drinkable. Consumers should not have to hunt for the fruit flavor stated on the bottle but the taste of cider must be present.

Commercial Examples: Tieton Apricot, Blue Mountain Cranberry, Anthem Pear, Carlton Peachy Keen

I. Specialty Cider

Where no other category suits. Entrant notes are of utmost importance for ciders in this category.