The Cicerone Certification Program announced this week that Shane McNamara has become the first Australian Master Cicerone, joining a group of only 19 other individuals world-wide to earn the title. The certification was earned following two days of intense written and oral exams, testing knowledge of beer styles, draft systems, beer evaluation, brewing technology, and beer and food pairings.
“I’m incredibly proud of this accomplishment.” said McNamara. “Thousands of hours studying, tasting, and traveling to some amazing destinations rich in beer culture and history have paid off. This is certainly the hardest beer I’ve had to work for – and I used to shovel out 800kg of mashed grains every day from the brewhouse. After two excruciating days consisting of sixteen essays, twelve oral interviews and eight tasting panels, that crisp refreshing golden nectar never tasted so good.”
McNamara currently serves as the Global Manager of Innovation and Non-Beer Quality at Anheuser-Busch InBev. In this role, he is responsible for overseeing the innovation, development and quality of some of the most well-known beer brands including Stella Artois, Budweiser and Corona. McNamara began his career at Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2019 as Global Adjacencies Innovation Manager in ZX Ventures — the global investment and innovation group of Anheuser-Busch InBev. Originally from Brisbane Australia, his beer journey began as a craft brewer in London before joining the Institute of Brewing & Distilling as Senior Technical Officer. McNamara has a Bachelor of Law and Business from Queensland University of Technology (QUT), alongside a Masters in Brewing Science from the University of Nottingham.
“We were impressed with all of the highly talented candidates who sat this year’s exam and couldn’t be happier for Shane. We are thrilled to have him represent the Master Cicerone title” said Chris Pisney, Exam Director of the Cicerone Certification Program.
In the wine world, the word “sommelier” designates those with proven expertise in selecting, acquiring and serving fine wine. At one time, some beer servers adopted the title “beer sommelier” to tie into the credibility of the wine world. But in the years since its founding, the Cicerone Certification Program has become the industry standard for identifying those with significant knowledge and professional skills in beer sales and service. The Cicerone Certification Program offers independent assessment and certification so that industry professionals—as well as consumers—can be sure of the knowledge and skills possessed by current and prospective beer servers.
Master Cicerone is the fourth and highest level of the Cicerone Certification Program. It recognizes an exceptional understanding of brewing, beer, and pairing — combining outstanding tasting abilities with an encyclopedic knowledge of commercial beers. The Master Cicerone exam challenges individuals to master every technical and aesthetic aspect of beer.
Candidates must converse with professional brewers and chefs as a peer, demonstrate the tasting ability of a seasoned quality control panel member and yet also speak with consumers using easy-to-understand but vividly descriptive language. Those who possess these skills serve the industry as consultants, educators and knowledge leaders in various organizations.