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News Student/Teacher Profiles

Schoolcraft faculty member wins Golden Jigger award

by Ben Bolstrum | Staff Writer
Photos courtesy of Annette May & beerones.com

If someone were to ask Annette May about her job, she would tell them that there is much more to it than meets the eye. May is a faculty member in the Brewing & Distillation Technology Program and a Continuing Education and Professional Development (CEPD) Instructor. She recently received the 2019 Golden Jigger Award for being the Advanced Cicerone of the year. This award was provided by “Nick Drinks” during their second annual award ceremony held this past December at the Detroit Shipping Company. This event is gives recognition to accomplished people and businesses in the alcohol industry.

The Cicerone title is given to someone who has advanced knowledge of the beer business. According to the Cicerone Certification Program, skills such as beer distribution, understanding different styles and forms of beer, evaluating flavor, ingredients, brewing and pairing food with beers are required to be successful.

“Anyone can start brewing at home as a hobby, as long as one is willing to do a lot of cleaning, practicing and persevering,” explained May. “Have a friend who already does this give guidance, or go to a local homebrew shop for guidance. Do some reading first. John Palmer’s ‘How to Brew’ is a really good place to start?”

She continued to explain that a common way for brewers to begin their career is to work in a brewpub or brewery taproom as a bartender or server. Expressing interest and volunteering to help out in the brewery will also show potential employers that a person is serious about learning more. Eventually, they may hire the person as an assistant in the brewery.

Another way to get involved is to go to school for a brewing certification because breweries are more likely to hire someone with a certificate. Those interested in getting involved should be prepared to study, clean and understand that the final product takes sensory skills that can only be obtained through practice.

“You get out of the industry what you put into it,” said May.

As a Cicerone, May is well versed in the science behind pairing certain foods with beer. She had plenty of recommendations: brown ale and a chocolate chip cookie, raw oysters and Irish Stout, or Doppelbock and Kalamata olives with a sour Flanders-style beer. May has expanded this into black olive-infused toast with a touch of olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar to successful results.

“I could go on and on, but we’ll leave it at that,” explained May. “Why do these work? There’s some underlying science behind the pairings, based on how we taste. A lot of it is based on the contrast of flavor,” she continues. “An easy way to understand this is to think of salted caramel, a combo that most people like. The more you know about beer, the more you realize you don’t know. It’s a never-ending quest for knowledge.”

According to May, people are often shocked at how vast the information can be but she is happy to teach anyone interested in the art.

Students interested in beer may join one of Schoolcraft’s CEPD program classes to expand their knowledge. May will be teaching three different classes in the winter semester and two in the spring and summer semesters.

For more information about these classes, please visit schoolcraft.edu/cepd/schedules.