Harpoon's Very Own Cicerone: Korey Rahrle
By: Korey Rahrle, Eastern NY Brewery Representative Published:
One of our very own Brewery Representatives, Korey Rahrle, recently became a Certified Cicerone! We think that’s pretty awesome, which is why we asked him a few questions about his experience and interest in the program. To learn more about the Cicerone program, check out this article from CraftBeer.com.
Why did you want to become a Cicerone?
While in college I was always the guy that would show up to the party with a 6-pack of craft beer, instead of the familiar 30-pack of light beer. The next week it would be a different 6-pack, or 22 ounce bottle. After a while, I was curious to know what was in these beers I enjoyed so much. I wanted to know where they came from, what else that brewery made, and what other beers of that particular style were out there.
After school I was hired by KegWorks.com, a company that specializes in draft beer equipment. I took it upon myself to learn more about the beer world beyond the liquid itself. Around that time, I took a part time job with a local Belgian beer bar called The Blue Monk. While there, I was exposed to more beer than I had ever known existed. This experience truly helped evolve my palate and opened my eyes to the endless possibilities of pairing beer and food.
Craft beer has become a huge part of my life. I’ve tasted flavors I didn’t know existed, and met people that I may have never known otherwise. Great beer has brought me so much joy. I want everyone I encounter to have that same opportunity.
Becoming a Certified Cicerone has given me an outlet to utilize all of this knowledge that I’’ve accumulated during my craft beer journey. Turns out I’ve been preparing for the exam for years and didn’t even know it!
What does the Cicerone program mean to you?
I love beer. No, really, I absolutely love beer! Specifically, I really love great craft beer. Once I realized how many different styles of beer there are, I made it a hobby to try as many as possible and seek out the knowledge to understand what makes them all unique. Part of what made me fall in love with craft beer in the first place was the experience of discovering something new and delicious. The other part was learning more about these delicious beers, then sharing them with other people. The Cicerone program gave me an opportunity to do both. So now instead of just being my friends’ unofficial “beer expert,” I’m an industry recognized Certified Cicerone!
How will this help you with your job?
I think more than anything it will increase my level of credibility within the industry. Being a Certified Cicerone is something that a lot of people, in and outside of the craft community, respect. It’s a tool that helps me bridge relationships between brewers, bar owners, and beer lovers alike. My level of expertise on all things beer will hopefully not just enhance my own credibility, but also Harpoon’s reputation as a brewery that genuinely cares about what we brew and how that message is being received by our consumers.
Becoming a Master Cicerone is a major goal. Why do anything if you’re not trying to be the best of the best? But for the sake of my social life, I’m going to wait on that for a bit. The amount of preparation involved is pretty daunting.
I guess what’s next in the immediate future is just maintaining what I already know. Now that the exam is over, I have the title, but the job isn’t done. I have to stay sharp. Yes, the grueling study time is over – for now. But there’s a level of expectation that I carry now. The craft industry is constantly evolving and I need to be a Cicerone all the time. Not just when I’m preparing for an exam.
What was your favorite part of preparing for Certified Cicerone?
My favorite part of studying was the tasting portion for regional styles. I made a point to acclimate my palate to individual styles. I would go to the store and buy different Belgian, German, British, and American styles. While drinking a specific style, I would try to memorize the style specifications. For example: ABV range, IBU range, SRM range, etc. I can remember myself pacing around my apartment drinking Maibock and yelling out “SRM 6-11! IBU 25-35…!” loud enough for my neighbors to hear I’m sure. I felt like a mad scientist or something. Who knows what the neighbors thought was going on. I found this to be a great way to fall back in love with some traditional beer styles, German in particular, that I might not have revisited otherwise.