Minneapolis native and Chicago resident Pat Fahey has become the seventh individual to earn the title of Master Cicerone, and, at 25, he is also the youngest to achieve the title. Fahey earned the certification through a series of exams culminating with two days of intense written and oral questioning about beer styles, draft systems, beer evaluation, brewing technology and beer and food pairing given on May 8 and 9 in Northern Illinois.
While more than 25,000 have passed the first level Cicerone exam known as Certified Beer Server, only seven individuals have now earned the Master Cicerone title — the third and top level of the program. Founded in 2007, the Cicerone Certification Program tests and certifies beer expertise similar to the wine world’s Master Sommelier program. The Master Cicerone exam includes 10 hours of written questions, two hours of oral questions and two hours of beer tasting and evaluation. Candidates needed an overall score of 85 percent to pass.
The May 2013 Northern Illinois exam sat 11 candidates, with one individual achieving a passing score. Over the duration of the entire program, 55 candidates have attempted the exam, with seven individuals achieving a passing score.
Before moving to Chicago, Fahey started a popular beer school series and helped launch the Better Beer Society in the Twin Cities. Fahey is now the exam content manager and the East Coast exam manager for the Cicerone Certification Program, where he develops content for the Certified Cicerone level of the program and coordinates exams on the Eastern seaboard. Fahey also teaches classes at the famed Chicago beer bar The Hopleaf, freelances for Leaders Beverage Consulting and consults privately.
Fahey joins the six previously certified Master Cicerones: Andrew Van Til of Michigan; David Kahle of Chicago; Rich Higgins of San Francisco; Nicole Erny of Oakland, Calif.; Neil Witte of Kansas City, Mo.; and Mirella Amato of Toronto, Ontario.
The next Master Cicerone exam will be held in the Philadelphia area on October 23 and 24.
The knowledge required for the Master Cicerones certification is outlined in the program’s Master Syllabus. The website provides information on the other levels of certification leading up to the Master Cicerone exam.