The Cicerone Certification Program is relatively new to the beer industry. The intensive course designates “professionals with proven experience in selecting, acquiring, and serving today’s wide range of beers.”
By comparison, the French Union des Sommeliers (which performs a similar function for vino) was founded in 1907. Also by comparison, brewing beer requires a heck of a lot more ingredients. Attaining the coveted title of Cicerone takes several weeks of intensive study, even for veteran craft beer slingers.
Andrea Coan, training coordinator for Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, has 17 years experience in the craft beer business. Last December, she received her Cicerone designation.
“I had a serious base of knowledge,” she recalled. “I still had to put in a good six weeks of studying. It requires you know more than a style and its color. You have to know the quantitative information about it as well.”
Those details include average ABV range, color, unwanted flavors that can hint at spoilage, and scent and flavor profiles. Then there are tests on draught systems, which teach you how to setup and maintain [the beer delivery] systems. During a live demonstration section of the test, Coan disassembled a beer faucet from the draught wall.
“I had to be able to take it apart, clean it, and put it back together,” she said. “After that, I took this monster test with 180 questions, answered three essays, you completed a tasting test.”
The flavor test had three sections: detecting undesired flavors, style identification, and flavor identification. With the Cicerone tests behind her, Coan keeps up with beer trends by reading. Flying Saucer staffers are required to attend monthly meetings that highlight a brewery and ingredient of the month.
The Cicerone certification is a great resource for anyone wanting to work as a sales representative for a distributor or brewery, draught system technician, trainer, restaurant manager, or brewery employee, she added. At the end of our interview, Coan gave advice for anyone seeking the coveted title of Cicerone.
“I would try and get my hands on an off-flavor kit,” she said. “It’s easy to order online. I would try to take courses through the Cicerone Certification Program. Learn the history of styles and quantitative data about styles. Start with popular styles like brown ales and American pale ales. Make note cards. Every day, I tried to learn about five new styles and continued studying the five I did before. Book your test ahead of time and just get after it.”
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On Tap in Fort Worth:
Salsa Verde Launch and Pepper Eating Contest
From Martin House: Salsa Verde is made with hatch chiles, tomatillos, jalapenos, cilantro, and limes. Our 7.5 percent ABV pepper ale returns August 10th. We’ll also have a pepper eating competition hosted by Ice Cole. Sure to be a fiery good time!
IPA Day at Flying Saucer Fort Worth (August 3)
From Flying Saucer: Come celebrate the dankest of days at Flying Saucer Fort Worth! We’ll tap rare IPAs throughout the day, and we’re also offering a special “Choose your own” IPA flight so you and your friends can taste and compare different variations and nuances of the beloved style. We’ll see you there! Here’s the event page.