What is Cicerone?

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.

If you want to be an expert on wines, learn how to become a sommelier here.

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.

Ray Daniels founded the Cicerone Certification Program in 2007, which is administered by the Cicerone Certification Institute, a non-profit organization based in Chicago, Illinois.

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

To become a certified Cicerone, candidates must pass a written exam. The exam is multiple-choice and covers a wide range of beer-related topics. Candidates must also complete a practical exam, which requires them to demonstrate their knowledge of beer preparation, service, and storage.  

The Cicerone Certification Program demonstrates knowledge and skills across the program’s three levels necessary to succeed in various roles, such as beer server, bartender, brewer, or educator.  

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.

The Average Salary Of A Cicerone

The demand for certified Cicerones is said to be growing, so there are many job opportunities available. The average salary for a certified Cicerone in the United States is USD$61,266 per year. This figure can vary depending on the level of certification, experience, and location. For example, a Certified Cicerone can earn anywhere from USD$40,000 to USD$100,000 per year.  

Check out job titles and average salaries for certified Cicerones: 

  • General Manager, Restaurant: USD$50,000 – USD$75,000;
  • Brewmaster: USD$35,000 – USD$64,000;
  • Outside Sales Representative: USD$46,000 – USD$52,000; and
  • Territory Sales Representative: USD$41,000 – USD$48,000.

An expert cicerone is a huge part of the food and beverages industry. Cicerones can work at breweries in a variety of roles, such as sales, marketing, or education. As a cicerone, you can work at restaurants and bars as a beer server or consultant. You can work at beer festivals as a judge or event planner as well. 

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