A beer sommelier, (sometimes known as a "cicerone", which is a private trademark rather than a general term) is a trained professional who works in the alcoholic beverage industry specializing in the service and knowledge of beer. This knowledge includes an understanding of styles, brewing, ingredients, history of beer and brewing, glassware, beer service, draught systems, beer tasting and food pairings. The profession is relatively new but growing.
The work of a beer sommelier is varied due to its infancy and the broadness of the beer and brewing industry. Typically people who qualify through one of the accreditation schemes, work in the hospitality industry and will have responsibility for choosing and purchasing beer, oversee its correct storage and service, attend customers and educate staff. In the brewing industry, beer sommeliers may take tours and tastings as well as be sales representatives. In the retail industry, they may be in charge of the buying and selection of beers available for purchase. Self employed beer sommeliers may undertake a range of jobs including pub and restaurant consulting and staff training, beer writing, hosting tasting events and beer judging for competitions at festivals, as well as in print for beer reviews.
Education and certification
In the UK and Australia the Institute of Brewing and Distilling runs The Beer Academy that has a number of educational courses and exams aimed at both professionals and enthusiasts. These include foundation and advanced beer courses, beer assessment and beer and food pairing. For professionals these courses culminate in a viva voce exam presenting and defending a portfolio of professional experience, a series of blind tastings, and examination of beer knowledge, food pairings and beer service that leads to becoming an accredited beer sommelier.
In Canada since 2009 the Prud'homme beer certification has been offered in the form of three levels of educational courses and examinations that lead to beer sommelier certification. These are run by Roger Mitag, Professor at Humber College's School of Hospitality, through a private company, Thirst for Knowledge.
In the USA the Cicerone certification program has been run by brewing author Ray Daniels through a private company, The Craft Beer Institute. Unlike the Beer Academy and Prud'homme programs the cicerone certification does not require attendance on beer educational courses, but operates as a certification body. The levels start with an on-line exam for a certified beer server followed by the cicerone certification consisting of a theory exam, a blind tasting, and practical element. The third level is that of Master Cicerone. The Cicerone certification program does not use the term 'beer sommelier' but is in effect a equitable designation.
In the USA and Germany the Doemens Academy in Munich and Seibel Institute of Technology in Chicago through their partnership as the World Brewing Academy offer a two week course to beer professionals that finishes with an examination, successful completion of which results in beer sommelier certification.
The Guild of Beer Sommeliers is an association for beer professionals accepting accreditation from a number of organizations and also offers education and certification..
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- "The Beer Academy Accredited Sommelier Scheme". The Beer Academy. Retrieved May 12, 2014.
- "About Prud'homme". Thirst For Knowledge. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
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