What Is a Cicerone?

A cicerone is literally defined as “a guide; one who provides information of interest to sightseers.” In the world of beer, however, cicerone is defined quite differently. A cicerone is to beer what a sommelier is to wine. A cicerone is a connoisseur of beer; someone who has studied beer with passion and dedication to pass rigorous exams that test all aspects of knowledge about the subject. The Cicerone Certification Program certifies and educates beer professionals in order to elevate the beer experience for consumers.

There are four levels of Cicerone Certifications:

  • Level One: Certified Beer Server – A first-level certification for those who work with beer.
  • Level Two: Certified Cicerone – A certification for professionals dedicated to beer.
  • Level Three: Advanced Cicerone – A designation of distinctive expertise and tasting skill.
  • Level Four: Master Cicerone – A small group of the most knowledgeable cicerones in the world, and the ultimate test of beer expertise.

Sugar Creek Co-Founder & Master Cicerone®, Joe Vogelbacher

Joe Vogelbacher, one of Sugar Creek Brewing’s co-founders and the President of the company, is one of only 19 Master Cicerones in the world. He was one of just three Advanced Cicerones here in North Carolina. Joe recently traveled to the United Kingdom to study with some of the most reputable cicerones in the world. He has undergone flavor training with AROXA, and he has read every book on the Cicerone Certification Program’s list of suggested study materials at least once, if not more times. However, the Master Cicerone Certification Exam isn’t only about knowing all there is to know about beer. It’s about being able to verbalize that knowledge and share it with the examiners. As the Cicerone Certification Program puts it:

“The Master Cicerone exam challenges individuals to master every technical and aesthetic aspect of beer. Candidates must converse with professional brewers and chefs as a peer, demonstrate the tasting ability of a seasoned quality control panel member and yet also speak with consumers using easy-to-understand but vividly descriptive language.”

Joe wanted to find an opportunity to practice this verbalization in preparation for this fourth and highest level of the Cicerone Certification Program, and to continue to expand his exceptional understanding of brewing, beer, and pairing. So, we developed with the Cherishing the Craft series to help him do just that.

Learn more about Joe, his journey since founding Sugar Creek Brewing in 2014, and his path toward the Master Cicerone Certification by reading this article from CharlotteFive now!

Cherishing The Craft

We developed a series of workshops called “Cherishing the Craft” based on a variety of subjects that were certain to come up on the Master Cicerone Certification exam, including flavor identification, beer styles, tasting beer, beer and food pairings, and more. These workshops are entertaining and provide Sugar Creek Brewing customers with valuable knowledge about beer from a true expert. But they are also designed to help Joe in his journey to become a Master Cicerone. If you are interested in learning more, attending a Cherishing the Craft workshop at Sugar Creek Brewing, or following along with Joe’s journey, please follow us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on events and on Joe’s Cicerone certification status. We thank you for your support, and hope to see you at our next workshop!