CNM Faculty is Advanced Beer Connoisseur
Asa Stone studies glass of beer

CNM Faculty is Advanced Beer Connoisseur

Asa Stone, CNM faculty member is the only certified Advanced Cicerone in New Mexico.
January 31, 2018

About 15 years ago, Asa Stone started a new hobby. She began experimenting at home with barley, hops, and yeast, and the age-old process of brewing beer. It started out as just a curious interest, but it grew into a quest for knowledge.

“I’ve developed a passion for the world of beer and its role in our society,” said Stone, a full-time psychology instructor in the School of Communication, Humanities & Social Sciences. “I became very interested in the historical context of beer, how it has changed over time, and its role as a cultural heritage around the world. I wanted to learn more about the stories behind the ingredients and the brewing process. At the same time, I wanted to know how to describe the beer, how to pair beers with food, and how to share the entire experience to get other people as intrigued as I am.”

She has not only learned more about beer and brewing, she’s become an official connoisseur. Last November, she became an Advanced Cicerone®, which is the beer equivalent of a Sommelier for wine. Stone is the first person in New Mexico to achieve the status. There are only 78 Advanced Cicerones worldwide, and Stone is one of only 11 women.

“I have had a passion for teaching psychology as my profession and a passion for beer and brewing as my hobby,” said Stone, who is also an independent consultant. “At some point I realized that I was passionate enough about beer to challenge myself to pursue it as my profession and become an Advanced Cicerone®.”

Advanced Cicerone® is the third level of the Cicerone Certification Program. The eight-hour exam covers five areas: keeping and serving beer, beer styles, beer flavor and evaluation, beer ingredients and brewing processes, and pairing beer with food. The exam consists of written, oral and blind-tasting portions that require not only extensive style knowledge but also the ability to detect and describe beer flavors using both consumer and brewer vocabulary.

“It certainly gave me a sense of accomplishment,” Stone said of passing the challenging exam that took months of preparation. “I immediately thought, ‘What now? What can I do to contribute to our community?’”

Stone, who is currently teaching psychology classes, is now in the faculty pool for CNM’s Brewing program.

“When the Brewing program started at CNM, it made sense to merge two of my passions right here at CNM,” she said. “I find the ever-evolving role of beer in our society fascinating. Other countries are looking to the U.S. for models on how to succeed in their own market. It would be interesting to play a role in the evolution of beer at a global level.”