Beer is not just for throwing ping pong balls into a red cup, it can be quite sophisticated. Just ask Certified Cicerone (beer sommelier) Thomas Kelley, who’s launching a class about beer. The three part course ($50) begins on Wednesday, April 11 at 7 PM and is held at El Segundo Brewing Company in El Segundo, CA. Each session is about 1.5 hours long, allowing the student to familiarize themselves with the history, the brewing process, evaluation of beer, serving and pairing with food, and beer styles. The point of the class is not only to prepare students for the Certified Beer Server exam (first level of the program), but to break down the stigma of Budweiser commercials. “The best way for craft beer advocates to overcome the mass marketing campaign of the last century is very simple and can be summed up in one word. Educate,” Kelley says.
Since the establishment of the Certified Cicerone Program four years ago, a certification exam acknowledging individuals working in the beer industry, only four people have passed the final level of the three level certification process. One of which is Nicole Erny, the newest Master Cicerone, who is also the first woman and the youngest person to ever pass this extensive exam. The test is a two day process with written and oral questions regarding styles of beer, the brewing process, draft systems, and beer and food pairings. We caught up with her during San Francisco Beer Week and asked her these six questions. Here are her answers.
For years wine experts have been acknowledged by the Court of Master Sommeliers. Now, the same degree of acknowledgement has been given to the beer experts. For the past four years, beer industry veteran Ray Daniels has been running the Cicerone Certification Program for people working in the beer industry, ranging from bartenders to brewers. There are three levels of certification: Certified Beer Server, Certified Cicerone and Master Cicerone.