Patrick Combs is Mad Sensory Scientist for Avery Brewing and is a Certified Cicerone. He’s a self-taught expert in beer’s off-flavors, styles and tasting and began his career by designing an educational program for bars, restaurants and others in the history, service, and nuance of beer.
Josh Clauss is also a Certified Cicerone, a beer collector with an impressive cellar in his home, an entrepreneur who designed a similar course to Patrick’s (although the two were in different states and didn’t know each other yet). Josh is a friend who lives not far from me, and is probably the person who knows the most about beer that I know in real life.
On this week’s show, we talk about why they both devoted their hobbies and/or lives to the study and pursuit of beer, how to detect off-flavors in beer, what the Cicerone test entails, the similarities and differences between Cicerone and Sommelier certification, and what annoys them about current craft beer culture. Also, we drink a lot during this week’s show. After all, it was a Friday night, and why not imbibe in that which we discussed?
What’s striking about this episode to me is the counterpoint to calls of intellectual snobbery often leveled at craft beer fans. What you have in these two gentlemen are stewards and ambassadors for the industry done right. They clearly love beer, and their enthusiasm erases any preconceived notions of pretentiousness that bothers me when I see someone get on their high horse for low culture in bashing craft beer – basically this idiotic ad, but in the form of a lazy, bitter Facebook post.
This is an incredibly fun (albeit a bit long) episode that does what I hope this show always does – gives you a sneak peek into what it’s like to be an expert in something.