Cicerone – the “sommelier” of beer
A sommelier is a trained wine expert who specializes in all the fine dining aspects of the wine industry, as well as things concerning food and wine pairing. Wine lovers would seek the advice and expertise of an esteemed professional sommelier. But how about beer lovers who want perfection and excellent quality in a beer? Fortunately, they have a cicerone to turn to.
A cicerone is the beer counterpart of a sommelier. He or she works in the alcohol industry and is trained in the knowledge of beer. This knowledge includes the comprehension and appreciation of the different styles and cultures of beer, as well as beer tasting, brewing ingredients and process and techniques, beer storage, sales and service, systems involving draught beer, food and beer pairing, and even the glassware used in serving beer.
Beer experts are sometimes even called beer sommeliers, but you have to determine the difference between that term and cicerone. Any beer enthusiast with an “unlettered” knowledge about beer can be called a beer sommelier, while a cicerone is someone who is an extensively trained beer professional at a sommelier school. Anyone can call themselves beer sommeliers but not anyone can call themselves cicerones.
So if you’re a beer enthusiast and want to be a professional beer expert, how can you become a certified cicerone?
Levels of expertise to become a certified cicerone
You have to go to a Ciceron Certification Program which is run by Ray Daniels, who established this to set standards on beer expertise.
If you intend to become a full-fledged cicerone, you have to also be aware of the Cicerone Certification Program’s three levels of expertise:
Level 1 – Certified Beer Servers
Naturally, it has no prerequisites, but requires you to undergo an online exam. The exam is in multiple-choice mode and requires examinees to pass a with grade of 75%.
Level 2 – Certified Cicerone
After passing the first level, you have to undergo the Certified Cicerone exam. This consists of a real-life written exam with a brief answer and essay format, topped off with a beer-tasting component. To pass this exam the correct rate has to be at least 80% overall.
Level 3 – Master Cicerone
Your all-encompassing knowledge of beer, as well as your refined beer-tasting capabilities are tested in this third and final level. You’ve got to also have more than just a well-rounded knowledge and experience with beer – including the brewing techniques, handling, managing, sales, as well as beer and food pairing. Not only is overall knowledge and experience required, but one must also be well-informed about the slight differences of the different types of beer. A grade of at least 85% or higher is the required rate to pass.
Cicerone Certification Program (Stage 1)
Tough exams and complex training — all for the simple enjoyment of beer
All of these levels require candidates to be at least 21 years of age. The name Cicerone is now a registered trademark.
These are a series of really tough exams. Out of the tens of thousands of test-takers, only seven have passed the Master Cicerone level, so far. However, there are more than 20,000 who have passed the Certified Beer Servers mark.
These exams also help successful candidates to address the differences among beers and helps the servers find the beer most suitable to the their customers’ tastes. Ciceron’s candidates undergo complex tests and training – and succeed in them – just to give people around the world the pure and simple enjoyment of drinking beer.