27 Jul 2009 @ 8:39 AM 
 

Becoming a Cicerone, Part 2: Certified Beer Server

 

The first level of Cicerone certification is “Certified Beer Server.” The Cicerone website has this to say 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.

I kind of wish it was called something different: “Novice Cicerone” or even “Journeyman Cicerone” since you’ve actually passed an exam – something like that. From a marketing standpoint, though, I can understand why it’s called this. This is the product you’re most likely to sell to a beer bar/brewpub. These are attributes you want in your beer server.

Studying for the test was very straightforward. There is a Novice Syllabus available that covers almost everything you need to know outside of the BJCP Style Guidelines. It is (currently) a 60-question multiple-choice exam and you need to answer 45 (75%) of them correctly to pass. They are generated randomly from a much larger list of questions, which means that no two people will receive the same exam. I suspect that it’s built in a manner that gives each person an equal percentage of questions from a few set categories: Styles, serving guidelines, beer ingredients, the three-tier system, etc. The downside to this is that I actually got a repeat question in the mix, a little lucky gift for me in the form of two right answers for the price of one.

I don’t want to give anything away about the specifics of the test, but I will say that it ended up being more difficult than I had anticipated. I did a quick review of the novice syllabus, and didn’t actually look at the BJCP guidelines, just trusting what was in my head to carry me through. You get two tries at the test, so I figured I’d take it once and see how it went. If I didn’t pass, I would figure out where I was weak, review those spots, and take it again. The style questions ended up being much more specific than I had anticipated and, for the most part, the multiple choices were well-written so that there was no obvious correct choice if you didn’t immediately know the answer.

If you take this test without looking at any of the material, you will have a hard time getting through it, and I think that’s great.

My thoughts on the test and certification: I would recommend beer bars and brewpubs, at the very least, to look at getting all of their waitstaff to “Certified Beer Server” level. It will absolutely ensure that your staff is knowledgeable about beer and, hey, you don’t have to invent the test yourself. For other beer-related business (from manufacturing to distributing): the knowledge covered here makes this an excellent exam for any beer-professional – your administrative staff, marketing department, or even your truck drivers. It will help your staff – and ALL of your staff – promote and sell your product better.

As for myself? I took the test in around one-third of the allotted time while my wife chatted to me about Fantasy Baseball on the other side of the room. I missed a handful of question that, upon review, I felt a little silly about getting wrong, and I am happy to say that I am now a Certified Beer Server (even if I wish I could call it something else). I am looking forward to working toward “Certified Cicerone.”

Tags Tags: ,
Categories: brewpub, cicerone, industry, marketing
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 27 Jul 2009 @ 10 23 AM

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Responses to this post » (2 Total)

 
  1. ingrate says:

    Congrats, Erik! Good luck with the journey. Sounds like a lot of fun.

  2. Darryl says:

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