Cicerone Certified Beer Server

So a week ago today I took the Cicerone test to become a Certified Beer Server.

And I passed the test with flying colors, 100%! What? You say you have never heard of a Cicerone, well listen up. What is a Cicerone? In basics terms, a Cicerone is to beer as a Sommelier is to wine. Cicerone is a new term for beer, I believe the program was started this year (2008) by the Brewer’s Association, and definitely is run by Ray Daniels. Basically it is a way to independently test beer knowledge and acknowledge that knowledge through three tested phases. Fist being the Certified Beer Server. Second is a Certified Cicerone (which there are five as of now). And third is a Master Cicerone (which there are none as of yet).

So since I essentially want to move my life and my career toward the beer industry I figured this would be a logical move to help prep myself for what is to come. I personally thought the Certified Beer Server test was pretty easy, but I’m sure everyone wouldn’t agree. It was 60 multiple-choice and true-false questions taken online with a 30 minute time limit. I finished the test in 14 minutes and received 100%. I’m sure that homebrewing for the past nine years and being a Certified BJCP Beer Judge helped, but I also believe that just my passion of beer and my ever wanting to know more about it was even more helpful.

The test covered many areas, more broad than I anticipated, thinking it would have been focusing on beer serving and public drunkenness, maybe like the next level of receiving your ABC server training. It covered many different beer styles, beer characteristics including freshness and flavor, serving beer, and the three tier system. A couple of the questions were similar to this style with multiple choice answers: Which of the following is not detected by taste or Which of the following would you not use to describe an Amber Ale? I would actually love to see every employee at a beer bar or a brew pub take this exam, though the $50 price tag may deter some businesses. Maybe they could institute a “business plan” where a business buys into the Cicerone program for say $1000 (20 tests worth) and can test as many employees a year that they want through the program to test to be Certified Beer Servers? Just a thought.

The next step is to test to become a Certified Cicerone, which I really want to do. There is a local test in Philly on Saturday October 25th, and as of now it is written in on my calendar. The prerequisites for a Certified Cicerone are: At least 30 days as a Certified Beer Server plus one year’s experience in the beer industry or one recommendation from a brewer or beer retailer. So since I do not have the beer industry experience, looks like I will have to get a recommendation, could be tricky. And this time the exam format is a written exam with short answers and essay questions plus tasting and a demonstration component, a grade of 80% overall and at least 70% on the tasting portion will be required to pass.The cost this time is $295 dollars, a big step from the $50 from last time. And basically the responsibilities for the test cover a large range, such as that you must have detailed knowledge of retail beer storage and service issues, excellent knowledge of modern beers and styles with some familiarity for historical styles, competence in identifying flawed beers and recognizing appropriate and in-appropriate flavors in modern beer styles, good understanding of the beer ingredients and familiarity with the brewing process and its common variations plus the ability to recommend reasonable beer pairings for common foods.

Some of this information was borrowed directly from the Cicerone website, please follow the link there to find out more information, and wish me luck!

7 Responses to “Cicerone Certified Beer Server”

  1. andrew Says:

    300 smacks, that’s a lot. Personally I would spend the money on brewing equipment, but maybe you already have everything you need in that department. Congrats on acing the first test.

  2. Brian Says:

    I totally agree, it’s really the one thing that has me on the fence. The next test after that is $500.

    For $300 I could get that new 15 gallon kettle I really want or an XBOX 360 with Fable II and maybe even Guitar Hero IV. Decisions . . .

  3. Andy Gadiel Says:

    Or two tix each to the Hampton shows! Yeah, Braw! Lawn Boy!

  4. Brian Says:

    Gee Andy, you’re always so Phish smart, thanks! 😉

  5. Andrew Says:

    The Cicerone people must be targeting the professional market (restaurants and bars).

    Step 1 – get a job somewhere that would pay for your test
    Step 2 – take and pass the test
    Step 3 – profit!

  6. Brian Says:

    Andrew – That would be the key scenario, have your employer pay for the test as long as you pass, and write it off as a business expense. BUT since I already don’t have that job/opportunity, the thought is possibly that this could make me more attractive to perspective employers.

    So far there are only 5 Certified Cicerones and 4 of them are brewery employees, makes me think they had some support from their employers.

  7. Shea Bahnsen Says:

    Hello – I am about to take the Cicerone Beer Server exam, and am wondering about what was on the test? Any hints or study help? Thanks!

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