Cicerone program aims to burnish chain beer service

June 27, 2010 | by Jennifer Litz

In a soon-to-be-published survey, a surprising 50 percent of respondents claimed drinks accounted for 11 to 30 percent of their overall profits. While much of that is certainly comprised of high-margin soft drinks, the pizza brewpub genre is on the rise, with 20 percent of survey respondents claiming they had added craft beer to their menus in the last year.

But before operators go and stock up on popular regional American or even upscale foreign brews, they should know that these beers should be handled and presented with care, like any other artisan food. In fact, many floor staff don’t handle, store and serve better beer the way it needs to be served in order to reach its full potential. 

Daniels' beer and pizza pairings:
  • An American pale ale, crisp, slightly bitter and bubbly, is a nice starting point for pairing with any pizza, especially a basic Margherita.
  • Spicier profiles like barbecue chicken toppings or wings can benefit from maltier flavors, like American brown ales.
  • Pepperoni pies do well with India pale ales. The super hoppy style cuts through the meat’s fat and slight spice.

Enter Ray Daniels, founder of the Cicerone Certification Program. Daniels, a 20-year beer industry veteran, created his program three years ago to help brewers use best practices in making, serving and describing beer. Now he’s bringing his expert training to the retail sector, promoting his program to restaurants to help their staff learn how to better handle, store and serve beer.

“I pretty much put it together out of frustration of bad beer service in a lot of places,” said Daniels. He describes dirty glasses, improper, headless pours and flat beer due to improperly prepared tap lines as the biggest service snafus.

Daniels said he targeted distributors after brewers, and now he’s ready for the national push to let retailers know they have a resource for better beer service, starting with the session he did at the National Restaurant Association show last month with Brewers Association president Paul Gatza.

The session targeted restaurateurs in general, but beer goes especially well with pizza, Daniels admits. “The bitterness and carbonation in beer helps provide a contrast to the carb and fat component of the pizza,” he said.

Restaurateurs can access and learn more about his program at

Topics: Customer Service / Experience , Food & Beverage , Operations Management , Staffing & Training

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