Is Cicerone the new Sommelier?
Hang around the craft beer industry long enough and you are going to run into people using the word Cicerone (pronounced "sis-uh-rohn"). It comes directly from the Cicerone Certification Program which was founded by beer industry veteran Ray Daniels. The program has four levels starting at Certified Beer Server and ending with Master Cicerone. The certification levels allow for professionals in the industry to demonstrate what their level of knowledge and expertise is compared to others. The levels beyond the Certified Beer Server require a more complex understanding of beer. All four levels focus on five key areas; keep and serving beer, beer styles, beer flavor and evaluation, beer ingredients and brewing processes and pairing beer with food. The Cicerone program is a nice addition to the beer world as it allows those who didn't attend a professional brewing school or have formal training a way to show their professionalism in the industry. The top three levels of the program are no joke and require a massive amount of studying and preparation. To become a Certified Cicerone (level two) you must pass a four hour test that includes written, tasting and demonstration portions. Preparing for the exam can take anywhere from six months to two years. If you are interested in learning more about the Cicerone program check it out online at cicerone.org and for those setting out to achieve their certifications good luck and may the best beers be with you!