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Ray Daniels is well known in the beer community. Author of the book Designing Great Beers, he’s a well known beer judge and senior faculty member at the Siebel Institute of Technology. He’s also the founder of the Cicerone Certification Program. The Cicerone Certification Program is a three level certification for beer industry folks to show that they know what they’re talking about when it comes to beer. From various flavors, styles and brands to proper storage and serving techniques, the Cicerone Certification Program covers much of the beer spectrum.

There are three levels of certification. The first is “Certified Beer Server”, an online quiz which must be passed with at least 75% correct answers. It covers popular beer styles and beer culture, beer tasting and flavors as well as the brewing process and beer ingredients.

The next level is the “Certified Cicerone”. Certified Cicerone’s must have already passed the Certified Beer Server test and have a year’s experience in the beer industry (or a recommendation from someone in the beer industry. This test includes both an in person written test and a beer tasting test. The skills needed build upon those in the Certified Beer Server test and include indentifying off flavors in beer and the ability to recommend beer pairings with common foods among other skills.

The last level is the “Master Cicerone”. This highest level Cicerone Certification is not to be taken lightly. It requires mastery of all areas covered in the Master Syllabus. As of this writing there is only one certified Master Cicerone.

Ray Daniel’s wrote a short article on the CraftBeer.com blog called, “Blowing your Credibility as a Beer Expert”, and while it’s not Cicerone specific, it does cover many common mistakes bars and restaurants make that are almost certainly covered in the Cicerone program.

Locally, Neighborhood in the East Village has made it a point to get all of their staff Cicerone Beer Server certified. Craft and Commerce in Little Italy (which shares an owner with Neighborhood) is currently working on getting their staff certified. We checked with Daniel’s to see if he could verify this and he said that certifications are granted to individuals not entire establishments, but that bars and restaurants around the country have pursued widespread certification for their entire staff, so he couldn’t say if an entire staff was certified, but we’ll take Neighborhood at their word.

Know of any other San Diego bars or restaurants making an effort to get their staff certified? Leave a comment below.

Click here to check out the Cicerone website for more info about the program.