What The Heck is a Cicerone?

Cicerone Certification Program/Facebook

As an adult, you’ve probably heard the term “sommelier”. If that word seems alien to to you, then you haven’t been out to many fine establishments and need to broaden your horizons. But, for those who remain uninformed, a sommelier is a person who is a wine expert at places like a fancy, high-class restaurant. This person is basically a wine waiter who can tell you everything about a specific wine and will even pair your selection with food.

But, is there such a thing as a beer sommelier?

Of course there is. And, that person is called a cicerone.

The Cicerone Certification Program was launched five years ago by Chicago brewer Ray Daniels. He had a simple goal in mind. To educate employees in the beer business. “You’d go into a place that had a lot of taps, that you’d think might know their beer. And they really didn’t,” Daniels stated to NPR.

The program contains three levels of Cicerones that begin with Certified Beer Servers, an online exam. From there there’s the in-person test, complete with a tasting component, to become a Certified Cicerone. The top level of Master Cicerone is accomplished after passing an in-person exam that lasts for two days.

The exams revolve around the five basic components: keeping and serving beer; beer styles; flavor and tasting; brewing process and ingredients; and beer and food pairing.

So far, only seven people have achieved the top level of Master Cicerone. However, there’s around 900 who have passed the regular exam, with another 27,000 Certified Beer Servers. Clearly, the industry is taking note. For example, Portland, OR-based Widmer Brothers Brewing is paying employees to take the exam.

While some people may think that this is just another way to prove that you’re a beer elitist, Daniels believes that this is for the best interest of beer drinkers. Those taking the exam will not only become aware of the complexities that beer offers, but will also become cognizant of something that seems trivial like the cleanliness of keg lines.

If you’re an industry employee, or maybe someone with some extra time and passion for brew, you can find out more about the program by checking out the official site.

We were a bit skeptical at first, but after discovering more about the program, we’re all for it. It’s just common sense that people working with beer should at least know something about its characteristics and how to properly handle it.

What’s you opinion? Do we need Cicerones? Or, is this a scam for someone to make a buck?

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