Patrick Rue
The Bruery’s Patrick Rue is the eighth person to earn a Master Cicerone title. Photo courtesy Cambria Griffith/The Bruery.

(Press Release)

CHICAGO—The Cicerone® Certification Program today announced that Californian Patrick Rue and Scotsman James Watt became the eighth and ninth individuals to earn the title of Master Cicerone®. Watt is the first European to earn the title. The two earned the certification through a series of exams culminating with two days of intense written and oral questioning about beer styles, draft systems, beer evaluation, brewing technology and beer and food pairing given on October 22 and 23 in the Los Angeles area.

“We are thrilled to have two such accomplished and distinguished members of the brewing community join the ranks of the Master Cicerones,” said Ray Daniels, founder and director of the Cicerone Certification Program. “I know they will both be great representatives of this certification as they continue to make a mark on the beer industry.”

James Watt
James Watt is the first European to earn the Master Cicerone title. Photo courtesy BrewDog.

While more than 45,000 have passed the first level Cicerone exam known as Certified Beer Server, only nine individuals have now earned the Master Cicerone title—the third and top level of the program. Founded in 2007, the Cicerone Certification Program tests and certifies beer expertise similar to the wine world’s Master Sommelier program. The Master Cicerone exam includes 10 hours of written questions, two hours of oral questions and two hours of beer tasting and evaluation. Candidates need an overall score of 85% to pass.

Eleven candidates took the October 2014 Los Angeles exam, with two individuals achieving a passing score. Across all Master Cicerone exams, there have been 74 exam attempts by 49 individuals with nine individuals achieving a passing score.

Rue and Watt join the seven previously designated Master Cicerones®: Andrew Van Til of San Francisco; David Kahle of Chicago; Rich Higgins of San Francisco; Nicole Erny of Oakland, CA; Neil Witte of Kansas City, MO; Mirella Amato of Toronto, ON; and Pat Fahey of Chicago.

In 2008, Patrick Rue founded the Orange County, CA-based brewery, The Bruery. The brewery quickly gained acclaim for its beers with food-driven flavors, bold takes on barrel aging, and a maverick sour beer program. Today, The Bruery’s beers are found in nearly half of US states, and in 2015, the brewery will premiere Bruery Terreux—a brand specializing in farmhouse and sour ales—with a new production facility and tasting room down the road from the original brewery.

With fellow Scotsman Martin Dickie, James Watt founded BrewDog brewery in 2007 in Aberdeen, Scotland. While known for its irreverence (like producing an Eisbock outfitted in a taxidermy squirrel), the brewery is a keystone of the UK’s modern craft beer scene, introducing Europeans to its spin on American-style beer. Besides its production breweries, BrewDog also operates more than two dozen eponymous beer bars, with locations in its native UK, and in places as far flung as Brazil and Japan. Watt is also co-host of the Esquire Network’s Brew Dogs.