After running this website since 2008, and having sampled probably 250+ beers and allegedly writing about them, I decided to get craft-beer legit by trying for the the Cicerone ‘Certified Beer Server’ certification.
Spoiler alert. I passed! (See my certification?)
The Cicerone program (website here, when its up) is an effort to establish a baseline of beer knowledge amongst people in the beer industry. There are three levels of Cicerone-ness (my word) beginning with the aforementioned ‘Certified Beer Server’. This certification requires one to pass an online exam consisting of 60 (?) multiple choice questions and a couple of true/false deals.
Its basic, I suppose, but it doesn’t come without pain or stress!
You’ve got to put $69 on the line to take the test and you need to get at least 75% of the questions correct (I got 88.33%, yay!). To keep you moving, there’s a 30-minute time restriction, complete with a countdown clock on your screen! Yikes!
To make you feel better, you do get a second chance to take the exam if you happen to blow it the first time around, but they do provide some nice review materials to check out beforehand. Its not like studying for the Bar, but you do need to have at least some knowledge about beer to get through it within the allotted time. Heck, here’s what their website says about it.
“The Certified Beer Server requires competent knowledge of beer storage and service issues as well as modest knowledge of currently popular beer styles and culture and basic familiarity with beer tasting and flavors as well as brewing process and ingredients. Knowledge of the Cicerone Certification Program’s levels and titles is also required.”
And for my passing, I get a nifty certificate and a lapel pin! This first level exam is a prerequisite toward the Certified Cicerone and Master Cicerone certifications, but those bad boys require real time in the field, and a much greater bite out of the wallet. We’ll see. Perhaps someday.
Anyway, its a start, and I’ve already accomplished something in 2012!
Personally, after taking the exam, I do think that its a good base for people who are actually in the business, unlike yours truly who took the test for the challenge.
On the other hand, coming from the I.T. field, I also understand that there are a lot of people out there who have no technical certifications who have much more skill and real-world experience than someone out of school with a fancy piece of paper. Again, its a start.
So what do you think about the Cicerone certification concept? Do you think its a valuable thing that improves the beer industry?