Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Properly Credentialed

What the heck is a cicerone anyway? While it may sound like one of positions within the Mafia (don, capo, etc.), it actually is a title bestowed upon those deemed to have a particular expertise when it comes to beer. If you want to know which wine to drink, you ask the sommelier. For beer, you need to consult with the cicerone.

As Craft Brew Sales Grow Frothy, Pourers With Pedigrees Bubble Up:

The Cicerone Certification Program was started about five years ago by Ray Daniels, a Chicago-based beer writer who has authored books on the subject. So far, it has certified more than 18,000 beer professionals, including 17,638 Beer Servers (the entry-level ranking), 611 Cicerones (the midlevel) and four Master Cicerones.

To earn certification, Beer Servers need to study a basic eight-page syllabus—topics include national beer styles (think Belgian lambics, English ales and German pilsners) and key beer ingredients (think malted barley, hops, yeast and water)—and then pay $69 to take an online exam with 60 multiple-choice questions.

Master Cicerones, on the other hand, must "possess encyclopedic knowledge of beer" and have "highly refined tasting ability," according to the Cicerone program website—and demonstrate as much during a two-day in-person exam with written, oral and taste-test components. The cost is $595—or about twice what some states charge would-be attorneys to take the bar exam.

Seems like a fair cost based on the comparable value that holders of each title brings to society. The WSJ article on cicerones featured a picture of one of the said beer masters in action and he actually bears a startling resemblance to Mark, the resident beer expert at Glen Lake Wine and Spirits.

Mark's 'stache might just be a hair curlier.