dcsimg

How to become beer cicerone or a beer sommelier

by Kay Easton
CulinaryEd Columnist
April 11, 2013

Become a Beer Sommelier: Seriously?

There are approximately 50 million craft beer lovers among us who have to figure out for themselves how to navigate the craft beer revolution. Sommeliers, who are traditionally trained and knowledgeable about wine, make vintage recommendations and suggest appropriate food and wine pairings, usually in rather post restaurants. But who's guiding the self-proclaimed "beer snobs?"

Rise of the craft breweries

In 2012, there were 2,347 operating craft breweries in the U.S., up about 18 percent from 2011, according to the Brewers Association (brewersassociation.org.). And, as craft beers have become more popular, palates have become more sophisticated. Today's beer aficionados have gone well beyond Budweiser and Miller Lite, with indie craft beers like Anchor Steam, Samuel Adams Boston Lager and Sierra Nevada Hefeweizen. Even Forbes has acknowledged 10 American craft breweries that could "elevate humble beer from a drink to swill to something to savor" (forbes.com).

With the rise of craft breweries, the beers that are served are far more complex than ever before. Today's beers range from pale ales with a light wheat aroma and a lemon citrus nose to dark stouts redolent of chocolate, caramel and coffee, descriptions strangely reminiscent of wine culture. Consequently, chefs and restaurateurs are beginning to recognize that the same wine and food pairings that have delighted their wine sipping customers can also translate to their beer-drinking customers as well. Food and beer pairings could be a substantial untapped market with growth potential for restaurants.

What is a beer sommelier or a beer cicerone?

So, with the explosion of the craft beer culture comes the need for professionals with knowledge about beer in general and about food and beer pairings specifically. Enter the beer sommelier. If you're interested in how to become a beer sommelier, the Guild of Beer Sommeliers offers courses for everyone from "enthusiasts to seasoned professionals," including Introduction to Craft Beer and Beer Service, Certified Beer Steward and Certified Beer Sommelier.

Ray Daniels, a member of the senior faculty at the Siebel Institute of Technology, America's oldest brewing school, started using "cicerone," a bygone era name for a museum or gallery guide, instead of beer sommelier, because he believed "sommelier" is too heavily associated with wine. He established the trademarked Cicerone Certification Program to promote professionals who have extensive knowledge about beer, including storage, sales and service; styles and culture; tasting and flavors; ingredients and processes and pairings with food.

If you're interested in how to become a cicerone, certification categories include:

  1. Certified Beer Server: 60 online multiple choice questions with a passing grade of 75 percent, cost $69. An interactive eLearning training program that includes the exam is available for $199. Over 18,000 certificates issued.
  2. Certified Cicerone: Written exam, tasting and demonstration component with a passing grade of 80 percent overall and 70 percent on the tasting portion, cost $345. Over 700 certificates issued.
  3. Master Cicerone: 10 hours of written questions, 2 hours of oral questions and 2 hours of beer tasting and evaluation with a score of 85 percent to pass, cost $595. Six certificates issued.

With proven knowledge about beer, you could be an asset not only to restaurants seeking to bring the craft beer revolution into their establishments, but to their customers as well. You could become their favorite beer sommelier or cicerone when you recommend Samuel Adams summer ale with the salad, Berkshire River Ale with the grilled salmon or Russian Imperial Stout with the chocolate mousse.

Sources:

  1. "Are Beer Sommeliers the Next Big Thing?," Talia Baiocchi, Eater, May 3, 2012, http://eater.com/archives/2012/05/03/are-beer-sommeliers-the-next-big-thing.php
  2. "Beer and Food Pairing Guide," BeerAdvocate, http://beeradvocate.com/beer/style_pairings/33
  3. "Cicerone (Basically a Beer Sommelier) Is the Drink World's New Hip Job," Allie Pape, 7x7SF, July 12, 2010, http://www.7x7.com/eat-drink/cicerone-basically-beer-sommelier-drink-worlds-new-hip-job
  4. "Courses," Guild of Beer Sommeliers, http://www.guildofbeersommeliers.com/courses
  5. "Deconstructing "Beer Madness," Michael Stein, DCBeer, March 16, 2012, http://www.dcbeer.com/news/deconstructing-%E2%80%9Cbeer-madness%E2%80%9D
  6. "Revolutionizing the Beer Culture in America," Jonathan Epstein, The Buffalo News, November 15, 2012, http://www.buffalonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20121115/BUSINESS/121119551/1005
  7. "Ten Top American Breweries Worth a Visit," FTG Inspector, Forbes, February 16, 2012, http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestravelguide/2012/02/16/ten-top-american-breweries-worth-a-visit/
  8. "Vancouver Craft Beer Week: Raise your glass and a fork, too," Randy Shore, The Vancouver Sun, April 27, 2011, http://www.vancouversun.com/entertainment/Vancouver+Craft+Beer+Week+Raise+your+glass+fork/4678520/story.html
  9. "Why Cicerone?," Cicerone Certification Program, https://cicerone.org/content/about
  10. "2012 Craft Beer Data Infographic," Brewers Association, 2012, http://www.brewersassociation.org/pages/media/press-releases/show?title=2012-craft-beer-data-infographic


About the Author

Kay Easton graduated from the State University of New York with a BA in English Literature. As a freelance and technical writer with more than 20 years experience, she writes articles for the Internet on a variety of topics.
Culinary Art Schools
Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More

  • DEGREE

    See More

  • PROGRAM TYPE

  • START TIME

    LOCATION
    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Showing schools in your area

            Matching School Ads
            Hospitality Food & Beverage Management (BS)
            • Discover how AI can push your love of cooking into culinary brilliance
            • Learn the foundations of the culinary arts including culinary management
            • 31 campuses and online, with institutional & programmatic accreditations
            • A military-inclusive school committed to providing support for our service members
            • Financial assistance is available for qualifying students in need of support
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            Double Diploma: Culinary Arts and Culinary Management
            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
            Show more [+]
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            Hotel & Restaurant Management (BS)
            • Has been training students for creative careers since 1921.
            • Provides interactive course materials and unique approaches to curriculum that support multiple learning styles.
            • Offers a 10% scholarship to eligible active duty, active and drilling members of the Reserve and National Guard.
            • Its accelerated online courses allow students to learn new course material every 5 ½ weeks.
            • Accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Search Schools Near You
            Subject :
            Degree :
            Zip Code :
            Culinary Articles
            10 Colleges with Delicious Dining Hall Food
            Forget boring college cafeteria dining: campus food can be both healthy and delicious. Here's a look at 10 colleges where you might actually enjoy getting your grub on.
            Four International Cuisines Influencing the American Foodscape
            Ethnic cuisines are an integral part of America's culinary landscape, and none more so than these perennial favorites.
            5 Ethnic Cuisines for Serious Foodies
            Love food? Want to broaden your culinary horizons? These five international cuisines might be an excellent starting place.
            Healthy home cooked meals can improve health, longevity and family social community
            Read how cooking at home rather than eating out can help you live longer, reduce the risk of cancer and improve family dynamics. Not only has cooking at home become the hip choice, it's also become the smart choice.

            ×
            We have made updates to our Privacy PolicyPrivacy Policy to reflect the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation.