Raising the Bar (at the Bar)

It’s been an important couple of weeks in my world.  And, obviously, the best way for me to explain it is through an earth process system analogy (classic Geographer). Every now and again you get one of those moments when there is a subtle, but permanent, tectonic shift.  A change that will start off small, but will have longer term, permanent ramifications.

I am, of course, talking about Gloucester Rugby’s recent win, their first away from home this season, fittingly coming against sworn enemy, Bath Rugby, thanks to an epic last minute try and conversion.  Only joking.  They’ll probably end up losing at home to Old Badgers RFC next week, such is their inconsistency.  I still love them, though.  Come on you Glaaaaaaasssss!!!

Anyway, I digress. No, this unassuming, but potentially crucial, shift comes in the form of the provision of bespoke training.  Now, that may not sound all that ground breaking, but for cider, sadly, it is.  I very much suspect that you, dear reader, and indeed every alcohol purchasing consumer, could name at least two styles of beer.  It could be as simple as lager and IPA.  How about two varietals of wine grape?  Half the world seems to drink Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio these days.  Easy right?  Now name two styles of cider.  Or two cider apple varieties.  Not so easy, huh?


You don’t know the answer to these questions because the people selling you your cider don’t know these answer to these questions.  And they don’t know because they have never been trained.  And they’ve never been trained because the cider category has grown through the dominance of a handful of brands that have never sought to explore this level of intricacy.

Well, cider’s time around the globe is coming; and it’s coming fast.  Global consumption is on the up and there is a desire and thirst amongst consumers to become more knowledgeable about their drinks.  But the lexicon and style classification for cider simply does not exist in any way shape or form beyond bland and ineffective category markers such as ‘mainstream’ or ‘premium’.  These only serve to indicate an arbitrarily assisgned value to those drinks, rather than providing any useful or constructive descriptors that consumers can utilise to truly understand what they’re drinking.  If cider is going to tap this global potential, it needs to up its game..

So, it’s with some pride that I can say I have teamed up with the Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) to write and deliver the training that we believe will give address this lack of knowledge. For over ten years, the IBD has run The Beer Academy – a highly regarded series of training offerings that has lead to a Beer Sommelier qualification.  Well, as a validation of cider’s global growth, such is the IBD’s conviction of the importance of the cider category, that they have re-branded this offering to The Beer and Cider Academy.  This is big.

As I have discussed before, cider sits in this nether world between wine and beer: made more like the former and consumed more like the latter.  It is entirely unique and deserves to be treated as such.  The training I will be delivering will not only seek to educate the participants on the history and process of cider, but also to provide a structure for how cider and perry can be differentiated depending on raw materials and process.  After several tiers of training, the culmination will be in the qualification of Pommelier –  the gold standard for cider and perry knowledge.  That’s right, cider and perry can (and do) have as much finesse and class as any wine, and as much boldness and character as any beer.

I want to aim big, to aim high, for this is not only what cider needs; it’s what is deserves.  It’s time to raise the bar for the cider offering in every bar, pub, restaurant, café, shop and supermarket.  These are exciting times, indeed.  So, if you want to be part of something ground breaking (more tectonics) then the journey starts on the 6th December in London.  See you there.








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