Episode 026: Cicerone: ensuring the beer is being served as the brewer intended
Certified Cicerone and cookbook author, John Scholl has been marketing a small lifestyle company for over ten years, has worked in media, and is an avid homebrewer. This led him to take up the mantle as Marketing Manager for the Cicerone Certification Program in 2015.
The Cicerone Certification Program was created by Ray Daniels to ensure beer is being served as the brewer intended. It consists of 4 different levels with exhaustive exams that compound in difficulty and the amount of knowledge needed to achieve each new certification.
In 2008 the initial goal was to have 5,000 Certified Beer Servers. In 2017, that number is closer to 85,000. The program has expanded to Latin America with the exams and website in Spanish.
The program can be taken online, say by taproom staff. Beer Savvy is the online program that takes about 5-8 hours, so it can get your fairly-new-to-beer staff up to speed in a short amount of time.
Certified Cicerone is the second level and the mark of a true beer professional. John himself studied for 11 months in order to be able to get a passing grade on his first try (making John an outlier, as they have about a 40% pass rate). There are around 2,800 Certified Cicerones, 40 Advanced Cicerones, and only 13 Master Cicerones 13 in the world.
Cicerone Certifications In Your Taproom
Brewers and tap room managers want staff to be able to guide the consumer to the beers that they like. That’s what keeps consumers coming back.
The Certified Cicerone level is good for educators, managers and owners.
Ways that breweries promote their staff’s certification include:
- On the bottom of the print menu, the line, “all beers served by a Certified Beer Server” or “The food and beer pairing has been created by a Certified Cicerone”
- Hang certificates on a prominent wall
- All levels are allowed to display the Certified bug on their personal business cards and other promotional materials.
Interested in earning a certification?
The Cicerone’s main audience is everyone who works in the beer industry. So, they look for specific trade shows like the Craft Brewers Conference and target social media for hospitality industry, as servers at bars and hotels are great candidates. There is still a lot of word of mouth and networking done as well. They’ll be continuing to expand their reach as well – John notes a trend in craft beer marketing where more breweries are putting on educational events about beer and the process of making it. More educated beer enthusiasts will continue to propel the number of Cicerones as the taps continue to flow and multiply in the industry.
Notable Quote from the Interview
“Even macro brew is starting to invest in educating their staff and public – they have full-time educators. That’s all they do, they go around and educate the public and distributors and bar owners. It’s definitely a trend. Everyone’s getting smarter about craft beer which I think is a wonderful thing.”