CHICAGO — Anyone can call themselves a beer expert, but when customers want great beer, they need help from a staff member who really knows beer flavors, styles, and service.
In order to provide that kind of a service, industry professionals go through what’s called the Cicerone Certification Program and it’s headquartered in Chicago.
There are 4 different levels of certification within the program and only 20 people in the world hold the top master certification.
WGN News Now spoke with the program’s founder, Ray Daniels about certification and how it’s become the industry standard in beer sales and service.
“The shorthand is a beer sommelier,” said Daniels. “We kind of hate that term but it’s the quickest way to describe it. What sommeliers do for wine; we do for beer.”
Daniels began brewing beer back in the 80’s and went to brewing school at the Siebel Institute. He has also written several books, which have been best sellers in the industry. All of his experience has gone into building the 4-tier program which is recognized worldwide.
“The Cicerone program teaches everyone in the beer industry what they have to do to take care of beer so that when it gets to the consumer, the consumer doesn’t have to worry about it,” said Daniels. “All the consumer has to do is drink the beer and enjoy it.”
The 4 certification levels are Certified Beer Server, Certified Cicerone, Advanced Cicerone, and Master Cicerone.
About 150,000 people have completed the first level of certification which is a 30-minute online test.
Only 20 people worldwide hold a Master Cicerone certification which is conducted in Chicago.
“It’s a 2-day exam, about half of it is spent doing oral exams with top level professionals in the businesses,” said Daniels.
There’s also a written portion to the test as well taste testing.
You can learn more about the certification levels, study materials, and more here.