I love beer and I decided to start the journey to becoming a certified cicerone a few months back. In order to attain that level you must first write the certified beer server exam. This is the first of three (soon to be four) levels of cicerone training and certification. The Cicerone program covers a wide variety of topics within the beer industry; from history to draught systems, styles by country to proper serving methods, plus there is a focus on local and federal serving and shipping laws.
I had a great time studying for the cicerone certified beer server exam. I learned a lot about beer that I didn’t know before plus I even picked up a thing or two about styles I work with every day at Bishop’s. The study program is laid out well, it is easy to use and the homework isn’t bad either. I do recommend keeping a couple beers on hand while studying, as it’s no fun to read about beer and not be able to have one!
So what is a certified cicerone?
From Cicerone.org: “The word Cicerone (pronounced sis-uh-rohn) has been chosen to designate those with proven expertise in selecting, acquiring and serving today’s wide range of beers…In the wine world, the word “sommelier” designates those with proven expertise in selecting, acquiring and serving fine wine. At one time, some beer servers adopted the title “beer sommelier” to tie into the credibility of the wine world. But in the years since its founding, the Cicerone Certification Program has become the industry standard for identifying those with significant knowledge and professional skills in beer sales and service.”
Becoming a certified beer server
The study program is laid out well – leading you through a sort of time travel journey. The first countries I had to focus on were Germany and the Czech Republic- especially their lagers. What really amazed me was how many different, but very similar styles there are. We don’t see a lot of these lesser known lager styles here in Nova Scotia, but if you can get your hands on them, they usually won’t cost much and they’re delicious!
After that the English, American and Belgian styles were a little easier to learn about because we have a lot of them at the shop. Plus, a lot of local brewers are focusing on these styles. Still, it was surprising how many styles of beer there are that you just don’t see often – one example of this is Propeller’s English Mild Ale. This is a style I’ve not heard of since taking the program, and it’s delicious. Hint: you may be able to even get some on tap down at the shop if it’s not too late!
Starting out on the cicerone path has certainly tested my beer knowledge, and while I’ve learned a lot from the program so far – it’s an ever-changing game and there are always new things to learn. Bring on round 2!