Well, the first stage of my path to becoming a Certified Cicerone is finished:
I am now a Cicerone-certified beer server!
I decided this week I was going to double my efforts and really bear down on being a beer authority. I was going to start at the “bottom”: get my OLCC license as well as my beer server certification and try to get a job at a local taphouse or brewery. While doing that, study and study and study to get my Cicerone Certification before I turn 24 (I turn 23 on the 18th). After that, I’m not really sure where it will lead me. Regardless, it’s what I want to do, so I’m just going to do it.
A couple of tips for people looking to become a certified beer server through the Cicerone program:
1) You’ve probably been studying since you started drinking beer. If you’re at the stage where you want to take this test to increase your knowledge after drinking beer for for a couple of years, you have likely picked up some information along the way. Do you know what an Oktoberfest looks like? What about the typical alcohol content of a Robust Porter? Can you tell the difference between a Bohemian (Czech) Pilsner and a German one? You can typically “Slumdog Millionaire” those ones quite easily.
2) You’ll probably overstudy, and that’s not a bad thing. I for sure went through the syllabus and took notes on everything they asked me to in depth. I read all the recommended reading, studied how draft lines work and all the components that go into them, and made beer styles into flash cards. Because of that, I finished the test in 15 minutes when they allow 30. It’s better to be over prepared than under prepared.
3) If you read Randy Mosher’s “Tasting Beer,” you’ll know everything you need to. I randomly picked his book up from Powell’s in Portland when I was working for Portland Monthly. I read through it, and then read through it again with a fine-toothed comb. There is so much information packed in there, from history to food pairing. It’s an invaluable resource and something every beer lover should have on their shelf, Cicerone-in-training or not.
4) It’s $69.00 to take the test, and it gives you two attempts. But, take my advice and be ready before hand. I was way happier taking the test once and getting a 90% rather than taking the test a second time to try and beat a 75%. They really don’t make it hard for you. If you studied and have a general knowledge of beer—like every beer server should—then you will pass it with absolutely no problem.
There’s my advice, take it or leave it. I know a lot of breweries are requiring their tap masters to have a beer server certification (which I’m sure most do anyway), so if you’re looking to break into the world of beer it certainly wont hurt to grab this certification.
I’m excited for the next step, and I will continue to update as I go along.
Wish me luck!