First off, what the crap is a Certified Cicerone®? A Certified Cicerone® is to beer what a sommelier is to wine. Still in the dark? A Certified Cicerone® is basically a certified expert in beer with a highly trained pallet and the ability to differentiate between types of beers and where they were produced.

My pal Kelsey Snipes just passed the first portion of assessments for certification, which makes her an official "Certified Beer Server." If Kelsey completes the second-level exam, she would become Lubbock's first female Certified Cicerone®.

There's only one actual Certified Cicerone® in Lubbock right now: Jason Watkins, the head brewer at Two Docs Brewing Co.

Here is a brief interview with Snipes.

How did you get involved in beer?

Beer is a very communal thing. You always enjoy having one with friends. After my brother got a job at a brewery in Denton, every time I'd visit him we'd talk about beer. He taught me a lot of things about beer I had never heard of. He sparked this curiosity in me, and I sought out my own knowledge ever since.

Beer brings people together. I love getting to teach my guests about beer -- the history, the chemistry, the flavor profiles, food pairing, etc. It's so versatile!

Kelsey Snipes and Selena Martinez
Kelsey Snipes and Selena Martinez

What is the road to certification like? Is it hard?

The first test wasn't too hard, just some general knowledge of the brewing process and history and different styles of beers. The exams after it will be fill-in-the-blank, short answer and essay, and then there is a tasting portion.

Beer styles are probably the most challenging because there are so many and a lot of them can be very similar. They typically give you a few hints about where it was brewed, what color and what flavor profile, and then expect you to answer correctly. I am looking forward to the next exams.

What does a beer boss such as yourself drink at home?

My favorite all-time beer would probably be Lakewood Brewing's Temptress. It's an imperial milk stout, and there are so many flavors: mint, French quarter (chicory coffee), peanut butter, salted caramel, coconut, cherry vanilla, and bourbon barrel.

When Kelsey isn't at Flipper's Tavern serving up yummy goodness or practicing for her next Cicerone® exam, she's hanging out with her wife, local comedian Selena Martinez, and their three dogs.

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