Craft Brew Alliance Invests in Training Programs for Employees

Craft Brew Alliance — makers of the Widmer Brothers, Redhook, Kona Brewing, Omission Beer and Square Mile Cider brands — today announced plans to make a “significant investment”  into new training programs and educational requirements for its employees.

Coinciding with all of the company’s 300-plus employees passing the first level of the Cicerone Program to become level 1 servers in January, CBA will now require all consumer-facing workers to complete the Certified Server exam.

“From the beginning, we have been driven by a desire to extend our own love of beer through delivering unique craft beer experiences to consumers,” said CBA CEO Andy Thomas in a press statement. “As we continue to grow, we remain fully committed to that same sense of purpose – and through great programs like Cicerone, we are ensuring that everyone at CBA is empowered to educated beer drinkers and enhance their experiences across all types and styles of beer.”

CBA isn’t alone. More craft breweries and distributors are investing heavily into further education programs like the Cicerone Program. At last count, the program had 33,000 Certified Servers, 1,100 Certified Cicerones and seven Master Cicerones.

The full press release from CBA is below.

Portland, Ore. – As the craft beer industry continues to grow at record rates, Craft Brew Alliance (CBA) (NASDAQ: BREW), the sixth largest craft brewer in the country, is raising the bar on beer education with a significant investment in new training programs and educational requirements for its employees. As part of its commitment to cultivating beer culture and leadership, the company tapped the Cicerone Certification Program, the most recognized beer knowledge certification program in the country, to advance its team’s knowledge about beer, beer styles, and service.

Last year, CBA challenged its entire team to pass the Cicerone Level I Certified Beer Server exam while requiring all consumer-facing employees in sales, marketing and restaurant and retail to pass the exam by the end of the year. Of the more than 330 employees in consumer-facing roles, 100% completed the Certified Beer Server course by January 2014.

“I’d like to congratulate Craft Brew Alliance on having 100% of their customer-contact employees achieve Certified Beer Server,” said Ray Daniels, Founder and Director, Cicerone Certification Program. “The Craft Brew Alliance team joins more than 35,000 people worldwide who have demonstrated their knowledge of beer through the Cicerone program. We are proud to know they have found Cicerone to be an effective tool in providing excellent beer service in their daily operations.”

CBA’s craft beer portfolio includes a broad array of styles to satisfy a variety of consumer tastes and occasions, and the company is continuously adding new employees to support its growth. CBA is home to three of most recognized pioneers in craft beer, Widmer Brothers Brewing, Redhook Brewery and Kona Brewing Co. More recently, the company developed and launched Omission Beer in 2012, an innovative craft beer brand focused exclusively on brewing with traditional beer ingredients that are specially crafted to remove gluten.

“Our roots tie back to the beginning of the craft beer movement, in the early 1980s before the term ‘craft’ even existed,” said CBA Chief Executive Officer Andy Thomas. “From the beginning, we have been driven by a desire to extend our own love of beer through delivering unique craft beer experiences to consumers. As we continue to grow, we remain fully committed to that same sense of purpose – and through great programs like Cicerone, we are ensuring that everyone at CBA is empowered to educate beer drinkers and enhance their experiences across all types and styles of beer.  It is our hope that more beer companies taking a similar approach and encouraging this level of stewardship in all things beer.”

Moving forward, CBA is requiring all new consumer-facing employees to register and complete the Certified Beer Server exam as part of the orientation process. CBA provides all necessary resources, encourages study groups and classes, and reimburses employees for the certification registration fees. The company is actively exploring ways to support select teams who want to continue on and achieve Certified Cicerone status.

About the Level I Certified Beer Server Exam:

The Certified Beer Server requires competent knowledge of beer storage and service issues as well as modest knowledge of beer styles and culture and basic familiarity with beer tasting and flavors and basic knowledge about brewing process and ingredients. Knowledge of the Cicerone Certification Program’s levels and titles is also required.

About Craft Brew Alliance

CBA is an independent, publicly traded craft brewing company that was formed through the merger of leading Pacific Northwest craft brewers – Widmer Brothers Brewing and Redhook Ale Brewery – in 2008. With an eye toward preserving and growing one-of-a-kind craft beers and brands, CBA welcomed Kona Brewing Company in 2010, and then launched Omission beer in 2012 and Square Mile Cider Company in 2013. For more information, visit: www.craftbrew.com.