“You should become a Certified Cicerone®”
“What’s a Certified Cicerone?”
“It’s like a Sommelier, but for beer”
“Oh. What’s a Sommelier?”
If you are even remotely interested in the craft beer industry, chances are you’ve heard of the Cicerone Program. While people often equate the test to the Sommelier certification of the wine world (seriously though, why do people always assume beer drinkers know anything about wine?), it is its own professional entity with its own unique challenges only beer lovers will understand. But what does the Certified Cicerone exam actually entail? How hard is it, really, to reach this assumed pinnacle of beer knowledge? I intend to find out.
I’ve been in the beer industry in some capacity or another for about five years. In a profession where many of us have been asked the dreaded questions “So what’s your real job?” or “What do you ACTUALLY want to do for a career” its easy to see why so many beer professionals aspire to prove the legitimacy of their craft; cue, the Certified Cicerone exam.
The widely used and not always understood term, “cicerone,” represents the organization that certifies beer professionals at four levels of knowledge through the Cicerone Certification Program. What most consumers recognize as “a Cicerone” is an individual whom has passed the Certified Cicerone exam. The exam requires a great deal of study and is designed to separate the highly trained and dedicated from the casual beer fans.
Over the course of, what I hope will be, the next eight months, I plan to document my studies and experiences as I prepare to take the Certified Cicerone exam in May 2018. Why May 2018? Practically, because that’s as far out as the organization currently has scheduled at the Chicago testing site. Impractically, because when I decided to commit to this project the date was exactly nine months away and I figured if I can gestate a human in that amount of time I should be able to pass a beer test.
I’ll be diving deep into each subject covered by the very helpful syllabus throughout this process but for more information about the exam itself I recommend exploring the website cicerone.org or the very informative four-part series by Saint Brewis’ own Justin Phelps: Sipping Towards Cicerone.
Its been only three weeks since I began telling friends and colleagues about my intent to take the exam and already I have seen incredible support from friends and strangers alike. I’m looking forward to paying it forward by sharing this experience with the Saint Brewis community and hope it helps encourage others to take the plunge into certification as well!