The Roles of a Beer Sommelier vs. Cicerone

In the world of alcoholic beverages, there are experts who specialize in different areas. When it comes to , two prominent titles stand out – beer sommelier and Cicerone. While both roles involve a deep understanding and appreciation of beer, they differ in their focus and expertise.

1. What is a Beer Sommelier?
A beer sommelier is an expert in the art of beer tasting, pairing, and service. They have a refined palate and extensive knowledge of different beer styles, flavors, and techniques. Similar to a sommelier, their main goal is to guide customers in selecting the perfect beer to complement their meal or personal preferences.

Beer sommeliers are skilled at identifying the unique characteristics of various beers and can suggest suitable food pairings to enhance the overall dining experience. They possess a deep understanding of the brewing process, ingredients, and the cultural significance of different beer styles. Their expertise lies in sensory evaluation, beer history, and consumer education.

2. What is a Cicerone?
A Cicerone, on the other hand, is a certified beer professional who focuses on beer service, quality, and industry knowledge. The term “Cicerone” is derived from the Latin word for guide or advisor. Cicerones are responsible for ensuring that beer is served and stored correctly, maintaining quality standards, and educating others about beer appreciation.

There are four levels of Cicerone certification, each with increasing levels of difficulty and expertise. The highest level, Master Cicerone, is considered one of the most prestigious titles in the beer industry. Cicerones are well-versed in beer styles, brewing techniques, draft systems, and even beer and food pairing. They possess a comprehensive understanding of beer ingredients, brewing history, and the business aspects of the beer industry.

3. The Differences
While both beer sommeliers and Cicerones share a passion for beer, their areas of expertise and focus differ. Beer sommeliers excel in sensory evaluation, flavor profiles, and food pairing, while Cicerones specialize in beer service, quality control, and industry knowledge.

A beer sommelier's primary role is to enhance the consumer's experience by suggesting the perfect beer based on their preferences or the dish they are enjoying. They focus on the flavor profile, aroma, and overall sensory experience of beer.

Cicerones, on the other hand, ensure that beer is served at its best, maintaining quality and freshness. They have a solid understanding of draft systems, proper glassware, and cellar management. Cicerones also educate others, including bartenders, restaurateurs, and beer enthusiasts, on the importance of proper beer storage, serving temperature, and the overall appreciation of beer.

4. The Value of Both Roles
Both beer sommeliers and Cicerones play crucial roles in the beer industry. Beer sommeliers enhance the consumer experience by providing knowledgeable recommendations and enhancing the overall enjoyment of beer. They bridge the gap between the beer world and the dining experience.

Cicerones, on the other hand, ensure that beer is served at its best, maintaining quality and upholding industry standards. They act as guides and educators, sharing their expertise to improve the overall beer service and knowledge.

While beer sommeliers and Cicerones both have a deep appreciation for beer, their areas of expertise differ. Beer sommeliers focus on sensory evaluation, flavor profiles, and food pairing, while Cicerones specialize in beer service, quality control, and industry knowledge. Both roles are essential in enhancing the overall beer experience and educating others about the wonderful world of beer.

beer sommelier vs cicerone

What Is The Difference Between A Cicerone And Sommelier?

A Cicerone and a Sommelier are both experts in the world of beverages, but they specialize in different areas. Here are the key differences between the two:

1. Definition:
– Cicerone: A Cicerone is an expert in beer. They possess a deep knowledge of different beer styles, brewing techniques, flavor profiles, and food pairings.
– Sommelier: A Sommelier is an expert in wine. They have extensive knowledge of various wine regions, grape varietals, production methods, tasting techniques, and food and wine pairings.

2. Focus:
– Cicerone: Cicerones primarily focus on beer, including its history, ingredients, brewing process, and sensory evaluation. They are well-versed in the different styles of beer, such as ales, lagers, stouts, and IPAs.
– Sommelier: Sommeliers primarily focus on wine, including its production, aging, and serving. They study wine regions from around the world, grape characteristics, wine tasting, and the art of pairing wine with food.

3. Expertise:
– Cicerone: Cicerones are knowledgeable about the ingredients used in brewing beer, such as , , , and . They can identify off-flavors, understand proper storage and serving temperatures, and recommend appropriate glassware for different beer styles.
– Sommelier: Sommeliers are experts in the vineyard-to-glass journey of wine, including grape cultivation, harvesting, fermentation, aging, and bottling. They can assess the quality and characteristics of wine through sight, smell, and taste.

4. Certification:
– Cicerone: Cicerones can obtain certifications through the Cicerone Certification Program, which offers four levels of expertise: Certified Beer Server, Certified Cicerone, Advanced Cicerone, and Master Cicerone.
– Sommelier: Sommeliers can obtain certifications through various organizations like the Court of Master Sommeliers or the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET). These certifications range from entry-level to advanced levels, including Certified Sommelier, Advanced Sommelier, and Master Sommelier.

5. Service:
– Cicerone: Cicerones often work in breweries, brewpubs, or beer-focused bars and restaurants. They assist customers in selecting beers that suit their preferences and provide recommendations for food and beer pairings.
– Sommelier: Sommeliers typically work in fine dining establishments, hotels, or wine bars. They curate wine lists, advise customers on wine selections, and ensure proper wine service, including decanting and temperature control.

While both Cicerones and Sommeliers are experts, Cicerones specialize in beer and Sommeliers specialize in wine. Their knowledge, certifications, and areas of expertise differ, but both play essential roles in enhancing the overall drinking experience for consumers.


Both beer sommeliers and Cicerones are experts in the world of beer, but they have distinct differences in their areas of expertise and focus. A beer sommelier, similar to a wine sommelier, specializes in the art of beer and food pairing, helping patrons choose the perfect beer to complement their meals. They possess a deep knowledge of beer styles, flavor profiles, and the science behind pairing beer with different foods.

On the other hand, a Cicerone is a certified beer professional who goes beyond just pairing beer with food. They have a comprehensive understanding of the entire beer industry, including brewing techniques, beer history, and the ability to assess and evaluate different beer styles. Cicerones are skilled in beer service, ensuring that beers are stored, poured, and served correctly to enhance the drinking experience.

The Cicerone certification program offers four levels of expertise, with each level requiring a higher level of knowledge and skill. This program provides a structured and rigorous education for those wanting to become true beer experts. On the other hand, beer sommeliers may not have a standardized certification program, but they acquire their knowledge through experience, training, and a passion for beer.

Ultimately, the choice between a beer sommelier and a Cicerone depends on the individual's interests and goals. If you are primarily interested in pairing beer with food and enhancing the dining experience, a beer sommelier might be the right choice for you. However, if you have a deep love for beer, its history, and want to become a true authority in the beer industry, pursuing Cicerone certification would be a more fitting path.

Regardless of which title you choose, both beer sommeliers and Cicerones play a crucial role in elevating the beer culture and ensuring that beer enthusiasts can fully appreciate the diverse flavors and styles that the world of beer has to offer.

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Thomas Ashford

Thomas Ashford is a highly educated brewer with years of experience in the industry. He has a Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and a Master Degree in Brewing Science. He is also BJCP Certified Beer Judge. Tom has worked hard to become one of the most experienced brewers in the industry. He has experience monitoring brewhouse and cellaring operations, coordinating brewhouse projects, and optimizing brewery operations for maximum efficiency. He is also familiar mixology and an experienced sommelier. Tom is an expert organizer of beer festivals, wine tastings, and brewery tours.