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Good Beer Hunting

Feb 15, 2020

What does it mean to be a “master”? More important: what does it take to actually feel that way? In this episode, we’re talking with the 19th Master Cicerone in the world, Joe Vogelbacher.

Joe is the CEO and co-founder of Charlotte, North Carolina’s Sugar Creek Brewing Company, and in 2019, he was the only person to pass what is arguably the hardest educational test in beer. His rank of Master Cicerone is the equivalent of wine’s Master Sommelier—he’s studied practically every aspect of beer and beer service, passing a test that has a fail rate of about 90%.

If you listened to Good Beer Hunting’s conversation with Ray Daniels, founder of Cicerone, you already have a good primer of what the program is. In this chat with Joe, you get greater insight into what it can be on personal, professional, and even magical levels. Working toward—and passing—the Master Cicerone exam has changed Joe and his brewery, and you’ll hear him open up about the tangible ways he’s noticed these differences. You are also bound to hear some unfamiliar words and science, as Joe casually rattles off aspects of all he’s learned.

Sticking with this one is fun, too, as Joe walks us through his tasting process, giving a play-by-play of what it means to study a beer. It’s a benefit and a burden in some ways, as just sitting back to enjoy a beer takes on a different meaning after years of study.

This is Joe Vogelbacher of Sugar Creek Brewing Company. Listen in.