It’s hard for me to get into a hobby without diving head first. At some point in the last few years my casual interest in beer exploded into a passion – something I wanted to learn about, experience, and share. You start with “beer is beer,” but quickly learn how many styles and variations are out there. That’s not even to mention different brands, breweries, and home brews are out there. Humans have a natural urge to classify everything, so it comes as no surprise there are strict guidelines to style. Brewers have the freedom to do whatever they will and make a delicious beer, but it may not “be true to style.”
For me, this seemed insurmountable; where do I begin? Untappd was a great place to start; they have badges for most main styles and groups that tell you what they are and keep you organized. But these things didn’t pop up overnight. Beer has been brewed in some form for thousands of years by more cultures than we could ever know. It has a rich history. How to learn?
A few months ago I heard about the Cicerone® Certification Program
, which is the industry standard of excellence in knowing all things about beer. There are many classes and certifications one can take, but Cicerone® differs in that it actually tests your knowledge, not just participation. You have to know styles, brand examples, proper ways to serve and store beer, common off-flavor examples, and even pairings with food. The program is divided into four levels: Certified Beer Server, Certified Cicerone®, Advanced Cicerone®, and Master Cicerone® (the last title, only about a dozen individuals in the word can claim). Each level has its challenges; but really it’s an adventure to learn more and more about beer.
When I first read about the program, I knew it was something I wanted to try. In September, I finally started my journey after studying the free syllabus and took the exam for Certified Beer Server, which I passed. It was a great overview of the more difficult things to come. For beer enthusiasts, it’s a genuinely fun exam to take as well, after all, it’s about beer! My goal is to study for the next level and eventually take the Certified Cicerone® exam. I figure it’s a tangible goal to really aid in developing a burgeoning passion. As opposed to the first level being all online, the second is in-person and includes a blind taste test and off-flavor exam as well as written component. It’ll be a fun adventure! Maybe you’ll come along?