17 Jul 2009 @ 10:32 AM 

Becoming a Cicerone, Part 1: What the eff is that?


It is one of my long-term personal goals to become a Master Cicerone. You get to take the journey with me. I’m not planning on sharing answers to exams or anything like that, but it occurs to me that while Ray Daniels and his Cicerone program may be known around the Brewers Association, it’s a fairly new program and may be relatively unknown to beer geeks in general. I shall attempt to let others into the process through my eyes. It’s going to be a while, so stick around. This multi-part series will likely span the next few years. Don’t worry. It’ll come around again on the gee-tar. Just keep an eye out.
Mmm... beer.
What is a Cicerone?

Short answer: Essentially, a sommelier for beer. You need to take a very detailed and comprehensive exam to become a certified Master Sommelier. The process to become a Master Cicerone is very similar. You need to intimately know beer, how each style should taste, how they should be served, stored, presented, and paired, etc. and then you need to take tests. AND pass them. There are three levels: Certified Beer Server, Certified Cicerone, and Master Cicerone.

There’s an excellent little Q&A here that also covers the origin of the word “cicerone.”

Why bother?

For me, it’s partly a matter of personal accomplishment, but primarily professional interest. There’s a chart available with recommendations on who should attain what level, and I do think that some level of Cicerone certification should be attained by most (if not all) persons working in the brewing industry. It’s an excellent way to show pride in the product. In addition, the more support the program gets the more likely it is to be treated with respect, thus allowing Certified and Master Cicerones to reap the respect they deserve for their level of knowledge on beer. Since my long term goal involves having my own brewery, knowing as much about beer as possible and being able to show certification for that knowledge seems like a great goal. Frankly, it also sounds like a lot of fun.

What kind of stuff do you have to learn?

Hopefully, nothing!


I’ll get a little more in depth into what kind of stuff I’m actually covering in the next piece about the first exam, but for the most part it looks like an overview of BJCP styles and information on serving, storage, and presentation. To be quite honest, I’m fairly certain I could pass the first level of testing without reviewing anything, but I will anyway. Not only would I prefer to pass with flying colors, but also so that I can share with you, the intrepid reader, what kind of stuff I was looking at.

The first part of this (study and exam) is going to happen for me this weekend, so keep an eye out for more next week.

Tags Tags: , ,
Categories: appreciation, cicerone, industry
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 17 Jul 2009 @ 01 06 PM


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