The Rise Of The Craft Beer Sommelier
The rise of craft beer sees a program to certify beer experts as cicerones, equivalent to the wine world’s knowledge standard.
With the rise of craft beers and microbreweries, there is a greater appreciation of beer and its complexities. Now, you can become certified as a beer cicerone – the equivalent of a sommelier, a certified master of wine – to prove your beer expertise.
The Cicerone program was set up by Ray Daniels, a Chicago brewer, five years ago. The course has three levels: certified beer server, Certified Cicerones and Master Cicerones. While the first only requires an online test, the official Cicerones must completely in-person courses and to become a master, you must go through an intensive two-day test, filled with beer-tasting, beer-brewing and food and beer pairing. Why the fuss over beer? Daniels tells NPR:
Beer is a fragile product. It can be ruined instantly by certain types of handling. So the people in the beer business — from the brewery all the way to the waiter or waitress — need to understand the complexity of beer.
Now bars and breweries are sponsoring their employees to become certified, but it is not an easy task. Only a third of test-takers qualify, and there are currently only seven Master Cicerones.