Australia's first Master Cicerone, Shane McNamara

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A podcast for lovers of wine, beer, liquor (incl. whisky, whiskey, bourbon, vodka tequila etc) and cocktails, Drinks Adventures hosts wine makers, brewing and distilling experts, sommeliers, bartenders & more.

Launched in 2008 by American brewer, author, and beer educator Ray Daniels, the Cicerone® Certification Program is like beer's equivalent of the Court of Master Sommeliers for wine.

Following last week's wine episode, we meet Shane McNamara, who in 2022 became the first Australian to reach the pinnacle of the program, Master Cicerone.

He joins a group of just 19 other individuals worldwide who have this title.

The Master Cicerone exam challenges individuals to master every technical and aesthetic aspect of beer. It requires an exceptional understanding of brewing, beer, and food pairing — combining outstanding tasting abilities with an encyclopaedic knowledge of commercial beers.

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If Shane’s name is new to you, it was to me too. He’s based over in London where he currently works for the world’s biggest brewer, AB InBev, in a global role overseeing the innovation, development and quality of some beer brands you might have heard of like Stella Artois, Budweiser and Corona.

When I spoke to Shane he’d just gotten back from the Czech Republic, which you’d know is the home of pilsner beer, as explored with writer Tom Acitelli back in Season 8 of the podcast.

So I took the opportunity to ask Shane about the Czech beer scene today.

And, later on, whether he plans on returning to Australia with his new qualifications, which he says are the payoff for thousands of hours spent studying and tasting beer.

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