I found out yesterday that the Master Cicerone® Exam results are in and ready to be divulged to the seven of us brave enough to expose ourselves to the highest level of the Cicerone® Certification Program. I will have my results by noon, and we intend to update this blog accordingly. You all deserve to know, as much as I do, for your love and support during this process. Regardless of the results, please know that none of this stops here. If I fail to earn the title of Master Cicerone®, I will go back out there and get it done! If I am lucky enough to earn a seat at the table, I promise to keep learning, educating, and pushing the envelope. Either way, I will continue to work tirelessly every single day for amazing beer, for its continued education, and for my community.
A few words about my process . . .
On January 10th, 2014, I officially registered to sit for the spring Master Cicerone® Exam, to be administered in early May. I had been kicking around the idea of trying to get it done since early in 2013, but I knew that improving my beer knowledge and sharpening my palate would require a significant commitment of time, energy, and focus. I panicked the moment I hit the submit button; the exam was only four months away! How would I hone my skills to be able to “demonstrate encyclopedic knowledge of all issues related to brewing, beer, and beer service?” Good question.
Remember that time that we opened two stores in five days?
On the heels of Craft Beer Cellar Portsmouth’s January 9th opening, Kate and I headed to Brandon, FL to put the finishing touches on the first Craft Beer Cellar outside of New England. After I got back, I thought I’d be able to commit several hours a week to the cause. Before I knew it, we were deep in February, and the exam was in less than three months. A few weeks later, Kate & I were in the process of teaching a series of beer style courses at Craft Beer Cellar Newton, and in the midst of our last class, someone asked when the exam was. It hit me . . . it was just two months away!
In the final eight weeks leading up to the exam, I went underground into an academic dungeon, surrounded by nothing more than my computer, beer, and a mountain of study materials. On most days, I studied for ten hours with breaks for conversations with Kate or someone on the team in Belmont or Winchester. I handled a little business with our growing brand team: Pham, our Brandwith Boss, or Lee Movic, our Brand BadAssador. Without my immediate team (all 20 of you), I could have never prepared myself for this exam or likely even gotten to Chicago. I am grateful!
As a result of this journey, I learned how much support I have. Kate Baker, my incredible business partner and partner in life made the academic dungeon of our home bearable, and cursed me if I dared to think of coming into work. After pulling both of our work weight in any given day or week, she worked tirelessly to coordinate brewery and barley farm visits, sessions with draft specialists, a beer & cheese tasting, and countless blind tastings. Additionally, customers, brewers and brewery representatives, distributors, local bartenders, family members, current Master Cicerones®, and, most of all, members of our amazing Craft Beer Cellar family all got behind me. The tweets, Facebook messages, emails, text messages, and phone calls of support for this crazy upcoming exam were humbling! While I may be a little more entwined and confused by the academics of beer every day, I felt a little stronger with my community, my family standing behind me holding me up. I am certain that I will never be able to completely express my gratitude to every person that supported and believed in me during this process. I am eternally grateful!
This is what craft beer has always been to me, and why I do what I do. Master Cicerone® or not, I will continue to represent great beer in this world, and to provide the best retail experiences in all of our stores. Our customers are the highlight of our days: education, tastings, and one-on-one conversations. As we continue to climb the rungs of the most tedious beer education ladders, we know not all of us will make it to the top. But we are all better for our commitment to learning and our experiences along the way. Thank you for loving good beer and from the bottom of my heart, thank you for your love, admiration, and support in my own climb to become a Master Cicerone®!
Updated June 18th, 2014 at 12:32pm: I just spoke with Ray Daniels from the Cicerone® Certification Program. Unfortunately, I did not receive a passing score. So, back to the books, yo!
Stop by Craft Beer Cellar Belmont today if you’re curious for more info. Or find me on Twitter: @SuzanneSchalow #madluv 🙂
Co-Founder – Craft Beer Cellar & CBC Belmont
The Beer I Can’t Stop Thinking About: Firestone Walker – Peachy Bones