New trend: beer sommeliers

Submitted by tresero on Sun, 07/22/2012 - 10:38

For many people, beer is the beverage of choice for backyard barbeques and sporting events, and is synonymous with casual,  even unsophisticated entertainment. But today, the paradigm has changed, and beer is becoming more and more chic, as beer making becomes more refined.

As in the past a Sommelier was consulted in fine dining establishments to pair wines and food appropriately, now, with beer recipes evolving, a “Cicerone” is becoming more popular to pair beer and food in the same way.

A Cicerone, (pronounced sis-er-own) is a fully certified position, “with expertise in selecting, acquiring and serving” the wide range of beers available today, the website www.cicerone.org states. “Only those who have passed the requisite test of knowledge and tasting skill can call themselves a Cicerone,” it says.

Beer, we are now realizing, can be mishandled as to affect the flavor; not to mention the different ingredients being used today. In addition, even typical ingredients are being experimented with, as more or less yeast, barley or hops can radically change a flavor. The Cicerone has a full understanding of these issues and knows how to handle the beer beyond just popping off a top.

Beer is being paired with foods more and more as the table beverage of choice, instead of wine, and as more and more people are educating their palates with regards to food, so the need for someone with a Cicerone’s skills is becoming evident.

According to epicurious.com, beer could be more food friendly than wine. “Winemakers…have one ingredient to play with: grapes. Two, if you count wood barrel aging. Beer makers…can experiment with barley, hops, yeast, spices, nuts, fruits and vegetables.”

The website notes some opinions suggest “lager is like white wine and ale is like red,” or beer hops act like wine acids in food pairings.

Craft beers are taking the world by storm. A beverage which has been around for centuries as a family staple, the new craft beers focus on natural ingredients, craftsmanship, and passion, providing a beverage with character and complexity, allowing vision and entrepreneurial spirit to lead the way in design. With so many beer options available, the place for an expert is indeed necessary.

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