Wine and beverage manager, and certified sommelier, Maurice DiMarino spends his days researching, educating staffs, and setting up beverage programs for the Cohn Restaurant Group’s 20 restaurants. At night, during one eight-week period, though, he spent his time with 49 SDSU Business of Craft Beer students sniffing, sipping, and swishing craft beers.
“Education is a key to sales growth in the restaurant and hospitality industry and it’s offered often to employees,” says DiMarino, “however, this SDSU program is also great for those who are not in the industry. It allows anyone to receive that same valuable information the industry gets. Even for those currently in the hospitality industry, it’s valuable because the classes are intensive and go beyond what you may learn in a one-hour brewery tour.”
He also noted that craft beer sales have increased in the past several years company-wide, and “having a better educated staff not only helps sales continue to grow, it also makes our company look good if we have informed servers, bartenders and cocktailers.”
Asked what pearls of wisdom he came away with after attending the Beer Styles class taught by Scot Blair of Hamilton’s, Monkey Paw, and Small Bar, DiMarino says, “History! I love history. I think it’s so important so you can better understand a product — knowing where and why it was created gives us a better understanding. It’s also great for engaging guests at table side.”
DiMarino adds, “When you are tasting so many different styles of beer, the insights are tremendous. I learned the little nuances that make one style different from another style. I am definitely inspired.”
Craft Brewing Scene Opening Doors; Creating Connections
“Just knowing that there are more like-minded individuals out there allows me to have a better connection with the craft beer world,” DiMarino says. “I’m pretty well established in the San Diego wine scene, but these classes have opened the doors to the craft brewing scene. I would like to start a blind beer-tasting group down the road and the first people to reach out to will be my fellow classmates.”
During a recent class when instructor Blair asked the students, “What do your senses detect in this beer?” DiMarino answered confidently, “Brioche.” Blair brightened up and said, “Well I’ve never heard this beer described quite like that.” All joking aside, DiMarino knows the intricacies of his food and beer flavors — very well.
Cicerone© certification may be around the corner for Cohn Restaurant Group sommelier DiMarino, thanks to a little inspiration from SDSU’s College of Extended Studies Business of Craft Beer certificate program, and a thirst for more knowledge.