About Cicerone® Certification Program

A beer cicerone, specifically a Certified Cicerone® or a Master Cicerone®, is a highly skilled and knowledgeable professional. Yet cicerones are often described in reference to wine sommeliers. In one of the blog posts I propose a new description for Cicerone, one that stands on its own, independent of other beverage professionals.

Here I give an overview of the Cicerone® Certification Program and I explain the different levels of certification.

An overview of the Cicerone® Certification Program

cicerone [sis ə rō’nē]

n. a guide who explains the history and chief features of a place to sightseers

(Webster’s New World College Dictionary)

The Cicerone® Certification Program provides independent assessment and certification of knowledge and skills of beer servers. It’s a professional certification. So when you go out to your favorite beer establishment, a Certified Cicerone® will ensure an exceptional beer experience. They are responsible for choosing the beer in stock, and for proper storage, handling and presentation of the beer you drink.

“We want people who are serving us beer, who are managing beer service for us to know what the hell they’re talking about,” explains Ray Daniels in an interview with Taste Terminal.

The knowledge and expertise of a Certified Cicerone® has been independently certified. So you can trust them for accurate information about beer ingredients, that they keep clean tap lines and they serve beer in the proper “beer clean” glassware, with the right amount of head.

“In the beer industry, you don’t have to explain it anymore,” says Daniels. “People are either looking to hire people who are certified Cicerones, or they are looking to get their people to Certified Cicerone, because they know that’s the knowledge they need to be effective on the job.”

History and trademarks

Cicerone® Certification Program was founded by Daniels in 2007. They started giving tests in 2008. Ever since, it has multiplied like yeast in a carboy.

Cicerone® certification mark and service mark is registered by the Craft Beer Institute, which is owned by Daniels. Daniels has written about beer for years and is a senior faculty member at the renowned brewing school, Siebel Institute of Technology.

Because the term Cicerone® is registered, there are rules about how it should be used. Hence, all the registered symbols throughout this post. If your beer server calls herself a cicerone, don’t immediately trust her. Only a Certified Cicerone® has been independently tested and certified. (And they’ll always call themselves a “Certified® Cicerone.”)

The Cicerone® Certification Program has 4 levels

There are 4 levels to the program:

  1. Certified Beer Server
  2. Certified Cicerone®
  3. Advanced CiceroneTM
  4. Master Cicerone®

The program follows 5 main areas of knowledge and expertise:

  • Keeping and serving beer
  • Beer styles
  • Beer flavor and evaluation
  • Beer ingredients and brewing processes
  • Pairing beer with food

A Certified Beer Server can provide you with quality service based on their proven knowledge, as tested in the 5 categories noted above. For more information, go here.

A Certified Cicerone® has additional knowledge about the brewing process and can identify a style of beer or problems with a beer, just by taste. She also has more knowledge of pairing beer with food. So she can choose the perfect beer to go with your meal.

“The biggest part of the job is not standing at the table talking to people about the product, but it’s doing all the prep work to deliver good product to the table,” says Daniels.

“Somebody who is a Cicerone, who is running beer service at a beer-centric restaurant may never walk to a table and talk to a customer about it, but they do all that other stuff that goes into making sure there’s great beer service and that the customers are able to have a great beer experience.”

The Advanced CiceroneTM level was added in 2016 for people who want to go beyond Certified Cicerone®, but can’t commit to the intense studying required to pass Master Cicerone®. Plus, the Master Cicerone® exam has a 6% pass rate, so I guess they had to help us out a little.

Master Cicerone® has at least 2 years experience selling, serving and managing beer service, and has an “encyclopedic knowledge of all issues related to brewing, beer, and beer service.” Let’s put it this way: there are 13 people in the world (as of Dec 29, 2016) who show the title Master Cicerone® wherever their names appear. Trust them, they are professionals.

In summary

The Cicerone® Certification Program independently verifies the knowledge, expertise, and skills of beer professionals. A Certified Cicerone® knows about beer, trust her. She is someone whose has knowledge and expertise to provide you with exemplary beer service.