Beer Certification: As A Alternate Path to Advanced Wine Certification (Essay #7)


I received an email yesterday. Cicerone Beer Certification is now available online. Hospitality positions have always valued training, education and credentials. Hotels and large hospitality organizations have been strong believers in professional training. The chain restaurants create their own in-house training and adapt them to their own needs. The independent restaurant have been behind in using education, however. Independent family restaurants traditionally rank low in many areas because they do their own thing and eschew professional standards. The small fine dining restaruants have been increasing in numbers and a good part of professional credentials are good for their needs. Food and beverage certifications have been in fashion in recent years. One of the best established credential areas has always been wine because the high level of specialized knowledge and skill needed. Some hospitality staff members and management pursue some wine training and the few who complete the advanced programs are invaluable. These certifications are simply very good standards for professional performance. WSET and Court of Master Sommelier provide two of the better programs geared toward hospitality area. Wine certifications can be invaluable in bringing the staff members up to a level of productivity that benefits the establishment, the guests and the staff members. Too few people can successfully withstand the challenges of advanced wine certifications and I suggest that beer certification is a sound alterantive for the purposes of increasing the knowledge, the skill and the confidence of many hospitality staff members until ready to pursue and complete advanced wine certifications.

Wine training, in general, is difficult. The amount of knowledge and the level of skill required is difficult to attain. Wine knowledge comes from various fields and has elements of history, law, science and more blended together. The multiple wine regions with their own languages, names, and cultures add to this difficulty. Furthermore, wine skill requires basic knowledge and strong know-how before it can be practiced. Once a person begins to practice to develop skill, the learning process becomes harder. In short, the experience and the practice needed to become skilled with wine is not easily attained. The average hospitality employee may find it easy to become familiar with wine and knowledgeable in some limited ways; however, the number of hospitality staff who are able to pursue a serious study of wine, to professional ends, is small. And, only a few of those who show enthusiasm and potential succeed. Wine certification is harder and more challenging than expected. Alternate approaches are needed to increase the number of successful staff members who actually pursue and gain such credentials in order to make a reasonabale impact in the dining room.

The approach, I suggest, is encouraging the staff to become certified in a useful relevant area besides wine to gain confidence and experience in learning. Basic wine certification is not a good option for this purpose. A rudimentary study of wine may take a short time, cost low and have a high number of graduates but is fairly worthless for professional purposes. And, the learning jump in the demands of study and practice for the advanced level is usually huge making the basic certificate worthless as a stepping stone or to gain any confidence. A good example is WSET Intermediate Certificate which takes one day of lecture and a test. The next level, which is the practical and useful one, is WSET Advanced Certificate. The latter credential is very valuable but the effort required to undertake advanced versus intermediate is hugely out of proportion. The intermediate is a joke compared to the advanced and only the advanced has some professional value. This increase in difficulty is discouraging for the average staff member thus lowering the number of potential advanced wine certification candidates. I suggest beer certification, and even cheese certification, is a great alternative stepping stone to develop hospitality staff for professional wine performance.

Beer certification may be an alternate subject but has great things to offer for potential wine candidates. Beer and wine have enough similarities to make sense the pursuit of the beer certification at some point. Beer certificate is a smaller mountain to climb. The level of knowledge and skill needed is much smaller than wine but the study will be thorough enough to develop substantial knowledge and adequate skill. The process of acquiring knowledge and developing skill is very similar to that required for wine certification. The person who undertakes beer certification has a very good chance of success. The knowledge and skill gained are relevant to one’s job functions and applicable professionally. The staff member not only learns a good deal about beer but also is able to put the knowledge and skill to work increasing one’s sales and income. This process of beginning to learn, studying, getting certified and finally using the gains at work is similar to a climb up and down a mountain. The person achieves a small goal that makes sense for the job. The next step can be a more advanced beer certification and in time, a good number of beer certified staff members will feel confident to attempt the challenging wine certification study path. They have more confidence and experience for a good chance at successful completion of advanced wine certification and being much better hospitality staff. The direct wine study path is too challenging for average staff members. The alternate subject certificaiton will build them up till strong enough to last the wine study challenge.


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