How I Passed My Certified Cicerone Exam

I am proud to announce that I am a Certified Cicerone. In my terms, it’s a sommelier for beer. According to the Cicerone website : ” The word Cicerone (sis-uh-rohn) designates hospitality professionals with proven experience in selecting, acquiring and serving today’s wide range of beers.” Therefore, I am well versed in the following:

  • Keeping and Serving Beer
  • Beer Styles
  • Beer Flavor and Evaluation
  • Beer Ingredients and Brewing Processes
  • Pairing Beer with Food

This road wasn’t easy . It took me about a year to complete if you exclude the year of time that I was sober. In this post I will explain everything I did to get to this status.

Certified Beer Server

The first step to becoming a Certified Cicerone is to become a Certified Beer Server by passing the Certified Beer Server Exam. This is no easy feat. Although it is the starter exam, it is quite comprehensive and a solid foundation to what’s expected in the more advanced levels. I opted for the BeerSavvy Course. It’s a 5-8 hour course that has everything you need to pass the Certified Beer Server Exam. It also includes a Certified Beer Server Exam. I found the BeerSavvy course to be educational and interesting. It was extremely helpful , but one thing to consider is that the course is about 3 times the price of buying the Certified Beer Server Exam on it’s own. In theory, you can forgo the extra costs and use the syllabus and resources provided by the Cicerone website to pass the exam.

Certified Cicerone Written Exam

In order to become a Certified Cicerone, you must pass the written exam and the tasting/demo exam with a combined score of at least 80%. Like for the other levels, the Cicerone website contains the syllabus and recommended study materials for the Certified Cicerone certification. This level is where the Cicerone program starts to advertise their Road to Cicerone course books and online classes. I completed and recommend completing all of those course books. I also recommend the Beer Scholar program. The Beer Scholar materials were clutch for getting a better idea of what types of questions could be on the exam. The Cicerone program also offers a practice test, but the Beer Scholar materials saturate you in the different ways a question could be asked.

Certified Cicerone Tasting/Demo Exam

If you weren’t drinking as many styles of beer as possible in preparation for the written exams, It’s time that you take time to do so before the tasting exam. I personally believe that tasting beer is important to pass both portions, but it’s especially important for the tasting exam. I used the BJCP Style Guidelines to try every style that was readily available in my area. For reference, there are about 26 base styles and I tried at least 20 of them. I also utilized home-brew club memberships and BJCP beer judging to taste the good, bad, and the ugly of beer. In terms of off flavors, the Single-User Basic Off-Flavor Training is a must. The training was easy to follow and the samples are exactly what you’ll have on exam day. I recommend using a pint glass for each sample because they foam over. The tasting portion has very few questions, so it’s important to know the beer styles and faults to a tee.

I probably would have failed if I didn’t stumble upon the Beer Scholar “How to score big on the CC exam’s demonstration component” article. I don’t think I could have fathomed from just reading the syllabus what the demo could have been.

My Future as a Certified Cicerone

If you read my previous post, you’re probably curious about how this certification will matter in the long run. If you didn’t read the post, please do, but the post discussed how I am going sober again. I ironically made the choice to become sober about a week after getting my certificate. I flirted with still tasting beers and spitting them out for a little while. After drinking beer again, I saw that it didn’t give me the full experience of the beer. I gained a lot of skills to get the Certified Cicerone status and I’m hoping to bring that into the non-alcoholic beer world. When I looked on Total Wines the other day, there were more than 363 non-alcohol beers available for purchase. The market for non-alcoholic beer is growing rapidly and may be a way that I can continue to enjoy beer, talk beer, and recommend beer to others.

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