Looking for the warm, roasty mouthfeel that comes with listening to a new episode of the Great Beer Adventure? You’re in the right place, and we are going to delve headfirst into what it takes to be a high end connoisseur of brew.
Back at the Thirsty Pig I sat down with Sam Brown – a certified cicerone from Pine State Beverage company. He is the Director of Business Development there, and as a self proclaimed old fart, has been working at the company for 20 years. His journey to becoming a cicerone can be traced to his childhood dream of wanting to be a movie star.
But wait! Let’s go over what a cicerone actually is. The origin of the word comes from England where a cicerone was a person who could lead you through an archaeological site or museum. Cicerones gave backstory, context, and details that allowed visitors to have a deeper appreciation of these sites. This is very much how Sam feels about being a modern day cicerone – he is here to help you come to a deeper understanding and appreciation for the beer you drink.
Now back to Sam’s journey!
For our First Round I grabbed a lemon habanero IPA by Orono Brewing called the Killawatt. Sam took in the notes of fresh baked bread in his Oktoberfest while telling of his days as an aspiring Thespian. And like all up and coming actors, he got a job in the restaurant industry. This inadvertently led Sam on a path of acquiring a lot of knowledge about food, high culture, and wine. So when America’s Awakening to the Craft Beer movement got underway Sam was on the ground floor of microbrew enlightenment.
For any curious beer enthusiast or aspiring cicerone, the amount of knowledge you need to grasp is incredible. There are over 75 styles of beer you need to memorize on top of layered substyles, and you’ll even need to know what glassware is paired with different brews. Understanding all of these and their IBU, ABV, and SRM are a part of being able to delve down into the core of what makes each beer unique.
If you’re interested in becoming a cicerone you’ll have to become a level one Certified Beer Server first. This is a certification many have to obtain at some point while working in the food and beverage industry. You can find out more information from the Cicerone Certification Program’s website.
Sam’s first beer memory led us down a brief jaunt that involved fathers, wiffle ball, and snowmobiles burning oil in thick black clouds–not to mention Friday nights popping Heineken caps on the bumper of a 1977 AMC Omega. We also got a glimpse at Sam’s favorite kind of beer. I won’t ruin it here, but it’s safe to say that any beer that can impress a cicerone is one worth checking out. Especially when it’s of a higher gravity and named after things that cause church windows to slam shut!
With our interview wrapped up I’m left with thoughts on whether or not I should become a cicerone myself. It would aid me greatly in The Great Beer Adventure’s ultimate conquest. We’re currently in phase two (take over the world) and a bookload of beer knowledge can’t hurt.
Speaking of books, The Great Beer Adventure is revving up for its first Book Club! We’ll be starting off with The Handbook of Porters and Stouts: The Ultimate, Complete and Definitive Guide by Josh Christie.