Marination Ma Kai, a West Seattle restaurant located at Alki Beach, now serves the Marination ma kai Session Brown, an ale made specifically for them by Big Al Brewing.
For over a decade, Robyn Schumacher was a high school science teacher. As a teacher, the process of brewing had always intrigued her, a thirst she tried to whet by brewing at home. After that much time helping kids with periodic tables, she decided it was time for her to start educating people on beer. So she became a Cicerone.
Cicerone (noun \ˌsi-sə-ˈrō-nē, ˌchē-chə-\): a guide who conducts sightseers. Origin: Italy
A Cicerone is much like a wine sommelier, only for beer. They are someone with “expertise” in “selecting, acquiring and serving today’s wide range of beers.” (Cicerone Certification Program)
The process of becoming a Cicerone isn’t one that is taken lightly. A process that involves tastings, pairings, and serving, the title of Cicerone is a focus on the experience of the beer. “Beer is becoming the new wine,” Schumacher told me as we sat in the ma kai dining room, looking out at the Seattle skyline. Which is why she is now working with ma kai to ensure that they have a good selection of beers on tap and in the fridge. “If I wasn’t here, we would probably have one or two beers on tap.”
And now the tap list has a little something for everyone, including the Marination ma kai Session Brown, an ale made specifically for them by Big Al Brewing, also in West Seattle. Maybe that’s because Robyn interned there for 4 months.
Robyn doesn’t want you to think she is trying to be a beer expert, but that she is trying to make your beer experience better. She loves the culture and wants to add Robyn doesn’t want you to think she is trying to be a beer expert, but that she is trying to make your beer experience betterto it. She actually just got back from Oktoberfest in Munich, and spent a lot of time watching how they interact with beer. “I watched how they served, I watched the culture. They drink in the park and at breakfast.” They don’t just drink baby little pints like us Americans, they drink full liters.
And what does it mean for her to be the only female Cicerone in Washington? “I am seeing women become a larger part of the industry,” she told me. Where it used to be that men stood in the back, discussing all of the equipment, Robyn believes that is changing as the roles evolve. She is in the process of educating all, but holding beer tastings for women only – a 101 if you will – to help educate on the culture.
Ultimately she hopes to brew her own and to get into the brewing side of things. I’ll tell you what, I’ll buy beer from anyone whose current favorite beer is Boneyard Beer Company’s RPM IPA, and has a dog named “Porter”…
For more information on how to become a Cicerone, visit Cicerone Certification Program.