CHICAGO — The Cicerone Certification Program today announced that Canadian Mirella Amato and Missourian Neil Witte became the fifth and sixth individuals to earn the title of Master Cicerone. Amato is the first Canadian citizen and first non-US resident to earn the top rank among beer professionals. Witte works as Field Quality Manager for Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City, MO.They both earned the certification through a series of exams culminating with two days of intense taste testing plus written and oral questioning about beer styles, draft systems, beer evaluation, brewing technology and beer and food pairing given October 23 & 24.
Overall more than 18,000 have passed the first level Cicerone exam known as Certified Beer Server, but only six individuals have now earned the Master Cicerone title—the third and top level of the program. Founded in 2007, the Cicerone Certification Program tests and certifies beer expertise similar to the wine world’s Master Sommelier program. The Master Cicerone exam includes 10 hours of written questions, 2 hours of oral questions and 2 hours of beer tasting and evaluation. Candidates needed an overall score of 85% to pass.
“During the Master Cicerone exam, both Amato and Witte had top scores in the written section of this year’s exam,” said Ray Daniels, Founder and Director of the Cicerone Certification Program. “Witte showed special strength in the oral examinations; Amato posted top marks in the tasting exam.”
Neil Witte is a 15-year veteran at Boulevard Brewing Co. where he started as a brewer and has worked since 2000 as Field Quality Manager. In this role, he works with distributors and retailers providing education and training on brewing, beer styles, beer and food and draught system installation and maintenance.
Mirella Amato runs Beerology, a beer consulting and training service based in Toronto, ON. She conducts guided beer tastings, beer dinners and food pairing workshops for consumers, and retailers and also offers staff training and consulting services for retailers and breweries. She also writes about beer and appears as a guest on Canadian radio and TV shows to talk about beer.
Since it began offering certifications in January 2008, the Cicerone Certification Program has awarded more than 18,500 first level certifications, called Certified Beer Server and 650 certifications at the second level of the program, called Certified Cicerone┬«. In Canada at least 136 people have completed the first level certification while 9 individuals other than Amato have earned the second level Certified Cicerone title. Through 2012, there have been 36 attempts to pass the third-level Master Cicerone exam resulting in the current roster of six Master Cicerones. Six of the 12 candidates who took the Master Cicerone exam this year, including Amato and Witte, were retaking the rigorous exam following previous unsuccessful attempts to pass. Amato is only the second Canadian to attempt the Master Cicerone exam and she is the first to pass.
Witte and Amato join the four previously certified Master Cicerones: Andrew Van Til of Michigan, David Kahle of Chicago, Rich Higgins of San Francisco and Nicole Erny of Oakland, CA.
The knowledge required for the Master Cicerones certification is outlined in the program’s 19-page Master Syllabus which can be viewed at www.cicerone.org. The website provides information on the other levels of certification leading up to the Master Cicerone┬« exam.
The Cicerone Certification Program is a service of the Craft Beer Institute, the Chicago-based beer and brewing education organization. The program is directed by brewer, author and beer educator Ray Daniels. A wide range of breweries, beer distributors and retailers participate in the program.