In this post, the first part of Sipping Toward Cicerone®, I’ll walk you through the 4 levels of Cicerone® Certification. In the next post, part 2, we’ll cover my studying for and taking the Certified Beer Server exam. In, part 3, we’ll look at my studying for the Certified Cicerone® exam. If you want to see how I did on the actual Certified Cicerone® test, skip to part 4.
I’m certain of three things in life.
- I love my daughters with every fiber of my being, but I’m not going to stop procreating until I have a boy. God help my wife.
- Update: Baby Boy due in September 2018. Boom.
- I am reasonably intelligent and did well in school but there isn’t a chance in hell I’m going to go back for any higher education at a University.
- I will learn, until the day I die, about subjects in which I have a passion.
It’s number three on that list that I’m writing about today. I love beer. I really do. I brew it. I drink it. I have deep conversations about it. Beer is a subject of which I possess a large amount of knowledge as well as gaps in knowledge where I could learn much more. So, imagine my joy when two years ago I became aware of a certification you can receive based on your knowledge of everything beer. Ray Daniels’ Cicerone® Certification program is designed to give beer savvy individuals a piece of paper that certifies their knowledge in the world of beer. Holding one of the 4 levels of certification would be ideal for anyone working in the alcoholic beverage industry in order to have proof of their expertise. For someone who doesn’t work in the beer industry (like yours truly), passing these tests would simply be a personal goal and a reason to learn more about something you’re passionate about.
There are actually 4 levels of certification in the Cicerone® Certification Program. The first of the 4 levels is the Certified Beer Server. To pass, you’ll need at least a 75% on this 60 question multiple choice test which is taken online and has a time limit of 30 minutes. According to their site, “the Certified Beer Server requires competent knowledge of beer storage and service issues as well as modest knowledge of beer styles and culture and basic familiarity with beer tasting and flavors and basic knowledge about brewing process and ingredients.” Don’t worry, if you don’t know where to start, they provide a syllabus for anyone wanting to take the test to use as a study guide. Most good craft beer bars will require their servers to have this certification or ask them to complete it within “x” amount of days of being hired.
The second level is the Certified Cicerone®. Again, quoting their site, “The Certified Cicerone® must have detailed knowledge of retail beer storage and service issues, excellent knowledge of modern beers and styles with some familiarity with beer history and 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 knowledge of beer pairing principles and the ability to recommend reasonable beer pairings for common foods.” That’s a mouthful and rightfully so. Sweet Jesus that sounds like a lot of info. The good news is that they’ve also provided a syllabus for this level, too. The bad news is that there are literally thousands of pieces of information that you’re expected to have encyclopedic knowledge of as well as a 12 part tasting exam. It’s no joke.
The third and fourth levels of certification are called Advanced Cicerone® and Master Cicerone® respectively. The Advanced Cicerone® level was announced in August, 2015 and the first test that will be administered to folks is actually going to be in 2016. The Master Cicerone® is a ridonkulous level of knowledge that literally 10 people in the entire world have been certified with. These levels are something that you should know exist but please, don’t expect me to write about them any time soon from a personal level.
There you have it, the 4 levels of Cicerone® Certification. My goal? I would love to one day say I was a Certified Cicerone®. I would also like to share with you my trials and tribulations I experience along the way to hopefully getting there. This is the first in what will most likely be a 4 part series where I take you through my studying, my tests and my results. I’ll share my study techniques, what did and didn’t work and whether or not I passed the tests. If you have any personal experience with the Cicerone® program or have questions about my journey, please post in the comments below.