New York, NY — The Cicerone Certification Program announced this week that The High End’s Max Bakker has become one of only 13 individuals world-wide to earn the title of Master Cicerone. The certification was earned following two days of intense written and oral exams, testing knowledge of beer styles, draft systems, beer evaluation, brewing technology and beer and food pairings. Bakker is now the first and only Master Cicerone located in New York.
“We’re super proud of Max and his accomplishment,” said Felipe Szpigel, President, The High End. “Our dream in The High End is to find new ways to make beer the most sophisticated beverage and to advance the category as a whole, and I have no doubt that Max will use his new skills to help us do just that.”
Bakker currently serves as an Educator for The High End business unit, a division of Anheuser-Busch. In this role, he provides in-depth knowledge of The High End’s beer portfolio for both consumer and industry audiences. Bakker began his career at Anheuser-Busch in 2011 as a sales representative in California, later moving to marketing coordinator in 2012 and then to High End Northern California state manager in 2013. In 2015, Bakker moved to NYC to join The High End’s education team, where he resides today. A graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, Bakker is a U.S. Army Veteran of the Missouri National Guard.
Since The High End was formed in the spring of 2015, the Education team has helped over 350 Anheuser-Busch employees become Certified Beer Servers, the first level in the Cicerone Certification Program. In the fall of 2015, the Education team launched a training designed to help people become Certified Cicerones, the second level in the Certification Program, and in a little over a year’s time, the team has helped over 70 employees achieve this certification (40 in 2016). When the Cicerone program introduced a new level, Advanced Cicerone, in 2016, the team helped three employees pass the exam, out of only 24 who have passed world-wide. In addition, AB InBev boasts another Master Cicerone; Mirella Amato was the first Canadian to have achieved Master Cicerone status in 2012, and was the first woman in Canada to become a Certified Cicerone in 2010.
Master Cicerone is the fourth and highest level of the Cicerone Certification Program. It recognizes an exceptional understanding of brewing, beer, and pairing — combining outstanding tasting abilities with an encyclopedic knowledge of commercial beers. 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. Those who possess these skills serve the industry as consultants, educators and knowledge leaders in various organizations.
About the High End
The High End is a business unit of Anheuser-Busch, created to provide its unique craft and European import brands with autonomy and support for growth, while fostering a collaborative environment for the brightest brewers in the beer community. The High End brings dedicated resources to support the growth of its brands, create successful partnerships and deliver more variety to consumers. Established in 2015, The High End includes brands such as Stella Artois and Shock Top, along with craft breweries Goose Island, Blue Point, 10 Barrel, Elysian, Golden Road, Virtue Cider, Four Peaks, Breckenridge Brewery, Devils Backbone and SpikedSeltzer.
About the Cicerone Certification Program
Founded in 2007 by brewer, author, and beer educator Ray Daniels, the Cicerone Certification Program seeks to ensure that consumers receive the best quality beer at every service occasion. To facilitate this, those who sell and serve beer are encouraged to acquire knowledge in five areas: 1) Keeping and Serving Beer, 2) Beer Styles, 3) Beer Flavor and Evaluation, 4) Beer Ingredients and Brewing Processes, and 5) Pairing Beer with Food. To this date, more than 75,000 individuals have been certified through the program. For more information on “What is a Cicerone?” visit: http://cicerone.org/about