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Ballantyne Commons Harris Teeter has their very own Cicerone® to help patrons discover the perfect beer for every occasion.

Kit Burkholder’s passion for golden amber brewed beverages led him to one of the most enviable and refreshing jobs in all of Ballantyne.

Burkholder, 36, is the official “Beer Guy” for the Harris Teeter Ballantyne Commons store. Here he helps patrons navigate and select the perfect brew from the staggering variety of beer choices on hand, several hundred, according to Burkholder.

“I want people to enjoy the beer experience and have high expectations of what that can be, especially when enjoying beer, cider, or mead with family and friends,” said Burkholder. “I’m a beer geek and love to share what I know with others.”

The former B2B salesman decided to pursue his lifelong interest and passion for beer after losing his corporate job. Burkholder discovered the serious side to beer when he happened onto a comprehensive self study program leading to his designation as a Certified Cicerone®.

Similar to a sommelier, an expert with extensive knowledge of making, a Cicerone® is becoming the industry standard for individuals with significant expertise in all matters of beer including brewing, sales, and service.

“Cicerone® is the Italian word for guide,” said Burkholder. “Gaining my certification is something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while. I had to identify distributors and brewers to work with and learn from in addition to quite a bit of study and of course sampling. After about two years I sat for the test which takes four hours. I’m one of only 2000 Certified Cicerones® in the world and the only one I know of in Charlotte that has a customer facing position.”

Craft Brew Scene Taking Off

Burkholder started at Harris Teeter helping with the wine and beer stocking and serving at their in-store bar. He quickly graduated to helping select inventory, working with distributors, and forging relationships with local craft brewers, an increasingly popular choice amongst his customers.

“The craft beer scene in Charlotte is taking off,” said Burkholder, “Though it hasn’t begun to see its full maturity. We carry several local brewery labels including beers from Olde Mecklenburg, Birdsong, and Sugar Creek. NoDa Brewing Company’s Hop, Drop and Roll™ is the number one selling beer in our store.”

Burkholder’s gregarious nature and natural disposition towards educating his customers led people to seek him out, especially for pairing recommendations on food.

“Food pairings are one of the most fun aspects of my job,” said Burkholder. “I enjoy helping people find unique combinations from our very eclectic selection. It’s fun to share nuances of a special beer with a desert, something many people don’t think of. I love an Allagash Triple for example with a lemon tart. The beer is magic on the palate with a hint of passion fruit and blends with a fruit tart beautifully.”

For those seeking out a true beer expert, he’s as close as the Ballantyne Commons Harris Teeter. Who knew?