The fast-changing and trendy business of beer in Australia has taken another evolutionary step, with some of the country’s biggest beer nerds now offering the acclaimed Cicerone training advantage.
The crafted beer revolution has been shaking up the establishments in markets and venues around the world, some for considerably longer than the decade or so since it reached public consciousness in Australia.
As consumers have flocked to experiential activities across so many markets, agile retailers have taken advantage of the higher price points and potential for profits in these premium products.
Competition for these premium dollars has assisted the success of the Cicerone Certification Program, which aims to educate and certify industry professionals “to elevate the beer experience for consumers”.
Three heavyweights in Australian beer – acclaimed brewer and judge Neal Cameron, former Woolworths national liquor purchasing & marketing director Ian Kingham, and brewery aficionado Dave Phillips – have formed the Institute Of Beer (IOB), exclusively licensing Cicerone training in Australia.
There are now over 2800 ‘Certified Cicerones’ in 20 countries around the world, with around 1,000 people taking the exam each year. There are over 78,000 of the lesser qualification of ‘Certified Beer Server’ through more than 30 countries, and another 15,000 take this exam each year.
The Australian craft beer market is eagerly following in the footsteps of the US market, which began embracing ‘craft’ micro-breweries in the 90s and is largely considered to have driven the revolution toward tastier beers. The US Brewers Association just reported that as of 1 December, the number of craft breweries in the States tallies a record 5,005.
This consumer demand has bred a new generation of beer-focused venues, bringing the best of the cutting-edge styles and flavours. The most successful of these have ensured their staff are able to talk the talk to the increasingly discerning patrons, optimising the venue’s product offerings.
“It’s not just about knowing beer, its knowing how to store it, serve it and most importantly assist your customer with making good choices in what has become a bewilderingly complex business,” says Cameron, IOB’s Education & Technical director.
“And if someone’s paying $10 for a schooner of beer, its unforgivable if that beer is not served in perfect condition.”
Many major breweries in the USA have integrated Cicerone training into their business, such as the world’s largest ‘craft’ beer brand, Samuel Adams, but also mainstream brewers such as ABInBev and Miller Coors. Heineken has made Cicerone training mandatory for all employees – regardless of job description.
“It’s got to the stage in the US where not having a Cicerone qualification to demonstrate your broad range of beer knowledge means you’re in the minority,” furthered Cameron.
Cicerone training through IOB will begin in February 2017, involving online learning and face-to-face exams.
As well as the internationally recognised beer training, IOB will be operating a consultancy on all aspects of beer and cider production, and providing services to optimise tasting and promotional events based around beer.
The levels of Cicerone training consist of:
- Certified Beer Server: a broad qualification to train and certify knowledge on everything relevant to serving beer. Involves:
- How to buy and store beer to keep it in perfect condition
- Common faults that can occur by poor storage and handling
- How to pour the perfect beer – including how to choose and maintain glassware
- Tasting and profiling of the major beer styles available to assist customers with making good choices
- The flavours and profiles of beer and how to describe and recognise key flavours
- Certified Cicerone: a significant advancement on CBS, taking 4-6 months hard study atop good basic beer knowledge. Involves:
- Knowledge of and ability to recognise all beer styles in the BJCP, including history and characteristics
- Recognise major beer faults and know causes
- Storing and serving beer
- Draught system operation and diagnosis
- Beer production: methods and ingredients, how they affect flavours, and how the process changes for differing beer styles
- Beer and food matching – effective application and principles
- History and evolution of beer
- Master Cicerone: the pinnacle of beer knowledge, including knowledge of beer and of all the great beers around the world, and the ability to recognise them in a blind tasting.
There are only a few Master Cicerones in the world, and the qualification will not be offered in Australia yet.