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Melissa Monosoff, Already a Master Sommelier, Becomes Dallas’ Fifth Certified Cicerone “Beer Master”


Ok, let’s get this out of the way first: HatchHQ loves, loves, loves Melissa Monosoff. Partly because she was my favorite instructor when I took the certified sommelier course, partly because she’s an avid cyclist, partly because she’s a master sommelier who loves beer more than wine, and mostly because she’s just super cool for a wine geek.

Now I’m happy to report that Melissa Monosoff, already a master sommelier, just earned her certification as a cicerone– a beer expert. Yeah, I know, your buddy Jedd is a beer expert and your sister Mary once drank a whole pony keg at that frat mixer. But Melissa Monosoff is better. Because she can tell you more about what Jedd and Mary and even your Uncle Sam are drinking … without even seeing the label.  Oh, and she’s also one of the few sommeliers to also earn a cicerone certificate. Cicerone = Beer Expert. It’s true. I looked it up.

To be certified as a cicerone, you have to master a deep knowledge of beer service, styles and the brewing process. Then,  you’ve got to nail a whole slew of blind tastings. Here’s how the cicerone certification site describes the tastings:

“Tasting Exam: The tasting exam consists of 12 samples divided into three sets of four. The first set covers off-flavor identification. Here you will be given a control sample and four unknowns.  Three of the unknowns will be spiked with a common beer off-flavor. Candidates must identify each sample giving the off-flavor name or stating that it is “same as control.”  The second set of tasting samples covers style discrimination. For each of four beers you will be asked to tell whether it is more representative of style A or style B. The final set of samples asserss your ability to judge beer acceptance. You will be told the brand name and style of the beer. You are told that a customer ordered this beer but doesn’t think it tastes right. Your job is to determine whether the beer tastes good enough to serve. (Note: the four beer acceptance samples require more detailed answers and count for half of the total tasting exam points.)”

“I think many people lump ales and lagers into big general categories, like ‘ales are light and lagers are heavy ‘or visa versa,” Monosoff told me when asked what about common beer misconceptions. “That’s far from the truth. Same goes for the color of a beer. Many people are scared of darker beers they think the dark beers  are heavier, and that’s not always true.”

Want to see just how much material is fair game on a certified cicerone exam? Here’s a link to the 16 page syllabus.

IIRC, Eddie Aiken (Veritas), Maté Hartai (The Libertine), Sam Wynne (Flying Saucer/Meddlesome Moth), and Jeff Fryman (formerly of Union Bear) are also certified cicerones.

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