How to Make Beer a Career

Did you know you could make a career out of drinking beer? Most people would never dream that you can make a living off of drinking beer. Can you imagine the look on a parent’s face when they asked their child, “What do you want to do when you grow up?”

And they said, “Eh, I think I’m going to drink beer all day and talk about it to people.”

There are many careers out there that many of us aren’t aware of. Part of what I’m trying to do with this site is bring some of those careers to light. Once you understand that there is not always a clear cut career path to doing what you love, the sooner you will realize that sometimes you have to blaze your own path.

As far as knowing everything about beer goes though, there is a clear cut path. It’s called the Cicerone Certification Program.

There are four levels of the program: Level 1 -Certified Beer Server, Level 2 -Certified Cicerone, Level 3 -Advanced Cicerone and finally Level 4 -Master Cicerone.

There are almost 67,000 people who have been through Level 1 training called—Certified Beer Server. To get this designation you have to take a 60 question closed-book test and pass with at least a 75%. Questions would include things about: proper storage, styles of beer and knowledge about the Cicerone program in general.

There are roughly 2000 people who have been through level 2 training or are called Certified Cicerones, which can take up to a year to complete. But when we look at Levels 3 and 4, the numbers drop off significantly.

There have been 13 people who have been through Level 3 Advanced Cicerone training and only 11 people worldwide who can call themselves a Master Cicerone.

Mirella Amato was the first person in the world to become a Master Cicerone outside of the United States. She has created a really cool business called Beerology where she does tastings and food pairing workshops centered around beer.

Amato also has written a book called Beerology-All You Need To Know To Enjoy Beer and has been teaching all-things-beer to students since 2007. She’s also been a judge at major beer festivals and beer tastings all over the world.

I had the chance to as to ask Ms. Amato a few questions regarding her business and the Cicerone Program:

What made you decide to pursue a Cicerone designation in the first place?

“My whole career is based around me learning as much as I can about beer and sharing what I’ve learned with others. By 2010, I had been working as a beer specialist for a number of years – doing sommelier-type work and doing public workshops to promote beer appreciation – and wanted to acquire some sort of credential so that my students and customers would trust my level of expertise. This led me to my Certified Cicerone certification. The Master Cicerone exam was more of a personal challenge; I really enjoy learning and found this to be a great way to structure my learning and work towards a tangible goal. It’s a 14 hour exam, so it requires a lot of dedicated study.”

When did you realize you were going to start your own business and incorporate beer in that business?

“I’ve always worked for myself, so the decision for me wasn’t so much about owning my own business as it was finding the right business. Freelancing is a combination of passion, intuition and hard work. I had many passions and was exploring a number of them in the year before I founded Beerology.

The reason I landed on beer is that there was a real need – that’s the intuition piece. At that time – 2006 – craft beer was finally gaining traction and, as it did, an increasing number of people were looking for information and guidance. There were people making beer, but there were very few people in a ‘beer sommelier’ type role. Because this was an emerging field, though, I had to figure out a lot of things on my own. It was quite a challenge!”

Any inspiring thought you may have about people saying, “Your idea is nuts. Just forget about it.”

“There’s always someone who will tell you you’re nuts. They may be wrong, or they may be right – only you know for sure. Occasionally take a step back, look at the work you’re doing, and ask yourself:

1) Are you passionate about it?

2) Is it filling a real need?

3) Are you willing to work hard?

If the answer to these three questions is ‘yes,’ then you’re on the right track!”

Mirella Amato is one of less than a dozen people in the world who has blazed her own way in a career field that is as unclear as a pint of stout. She should be an inspiration to us all.

Please feel free to visit Mirella’s website. And if you really want to know how to taste a beer, click here and let her explain how.


Can’t Pick Just One Career Idea?


I wrote this article after reading a book called Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher and now I know what’s wrong with me.

I’m a Scanner.

A Scanner is someone who is interested in a lot of things. They research these things intensely and when they learn what they want to know about it, they move on to something else and research that intensely.

Scanners drive the people around them nuts. They seem flighty and unfocused. Some people call them a Dilettante. Webster’s definition of a dilettante is, “A person who cultivates an area of interest, such as the arts, without real commitment or knowledge.

But what Barbara Sher brings to light is that Scanners are very curious and are highly creative people. They also can get bored easily.

Here are some things I’ve looked up this week (but mostly in one day) and spent anywhere from 20 minutes to four hours researching it this week:

1. Birthstones, specifically blue ones: Aquamarine, Topaz and Sapphires

2. Gamification—how to make learning fun. I even sat through an hour webinar from the VP at Adobe.

3. Different gurus on Scanners: Emile Wapnick—decent TED talk, Tia Sparkles, Douglas Eby, Patrick Ross and Mihaly Csiksenentmihalyi.

4. I made a list of all the cool things I’ve done over the last 10 or 12 years: the birth of my child, places I’ve visited, jobs I’ve had, houses that I’ve bought and sold, college degrees, too many things to list for this post.

5. Lyrical Essays for a possible submission—the “braided essay,” is the type I’m going to use.

6. That got me into looking up things that were related to writing in general and that brought me to Stephen’s King’s On Writing…

7. …which lead me to looking up, “How to submit to blogs for being a guest writer.” Hint: Google “Write for us.”

8. I checked in with this blogger named ViperChill who wrote a really long article on: How to buy Facebook likes for less than a penny each.

And then he described how to make two business pages on Facebook, send out the same stuff as the other one, but link the two together and somehow this gets more people to share your content because Google will index it differently.

9. Then I decided I needed to look up houses on the waterfront here in the St. Louis area, which in case you don’t know, is in the middle of the United States, so…there’s either rivers, creeks, ponds or lakes.

Well, I found a house that’s less than $100,000 on a lake by where I currently live and I didn’t even know it was there. But the bad news, it probably needs another $100,000 in work.

Somehow I let this take me out of the game for at least 45 minutes to 1 hour.

10. Then I got back into writing and found a blog called The Abundant Artist. There was a guest post from a lady named Steff Metal.

11. I went to her blog which lead me down the rabbit hole for another hour because she’s that damn good and what she does. Besides writing her own stuff, she writes SALES LETTERS for other artists and they are just irresistible. No wonder she’s helping so many people make money from their art.

12. So of course I had to look up Bob Marley stencils, because you know? I like to make art. And I like to make money. And I’ve made a few stencil art pieces in the past.

13. So then I went to Ebay and looked up how much stenciled Bob Marley paintings are going for. Answer–$12.00.

So I decided to write this post about Scanners instead of painting a Bob Marley painting to try to show you what it’s like to have this kind of brain.

To some it’s a curse. To others it seems like, “You can never pick one thing and stick with it.”

To me, it’s just what I do and this blog is my outlet for it. My goal is to show you that you can pick any topic you want as a career, even if that topic is about people who can’t pick just one thing to pursue.