How Hard Is the Cicerone Beer Server Exam?

  • By: BT Staff
  • Date: January 20, 2024
  • Time to read: 5 min.

The life of a beer expert may seem like a dream come true, but if you want to turn your beer knowledge into a career, then there is a challenging certification process you’ll need to overcome. How hard is the Cicerone beer server exam?

The Cicerone beer server exam is a difficult professional exam that requires mastery of beer terms, excellence in preparation methods, and an understanding of what causes beer to lose flavor out of the brewery.

There’s a lot of information to take in if you want to become a certified Cicerone beer server, and the rest of this article will focus on the core details you’ll need to ace the exam.

What Is the Cicerone?

A cicerone is to the world of beer what a sommelier is to the world of wine. It is, in essence, someone who knows their stuff about beer—so much so that they’ve passed the difficult Cicerone Certification Program to prove it.

The Cicerone program was created by Ray Daniels, a former bio-chemical major, in 2007 to set the standard for educated professionals who serve beer.

After all, proper handling of and introduction to beer is as much a part of the experience as it is with wine.

The Cicerone exam is designed to make sure that the prospective Cicerone knows their stuff in five categories: service, beer styles, beer flavors, the brewing process and ingredients, and proper food pairings.

The exam takes an astonishing 4 hours to complete and has quite a low pass rate, with only a few people succeeding each year. There are 4 levels of certification:

  • Certified Beer Server
  • Certified Cicerone
  • Advanced Cicerone
  • Master Cicerone

There are just over 100,000 Certified Beer Servers around the world, and only 1000 Cicerones.

How to Study for Cicerone Beer Server Exam

Thankfully, there are a number of ways you can prepare for the Cicerone exam, including using resources provided by Cicerone themselves.

For example, you can view the link to their course syllabus on their webpage. This content is designed to help you, a prospective Cicerone, prepare for all levels of the exam.

In the syllabus, you’ll find details information on what you might see on the test and what you’ll be expected to learn along the way.

The syllabus also contains a bunch of information from third-party and independent sources, so definitely keep those resources in mind as you strive for mastery.

Right on their certification page for Certified Beer Server, Cicerone lists their learning objectives, which are helpful metrics to measure your progress and test your proficiency:

  • Become fluent in the language of beer, being capable of holding a conversation using key flavor words and referencing core beer styles.
  • Master beer service, including proper preparation of the glass and proper pouring of draft and bottled beer.
  • Learn how beer can lose its flavor when leaving the brewery and how to preserve it.

Before you start the test, you’ll be obligated to get a 100% score on a quick 5-question quiz about the certification program.

This test is just to make sure you understand the purpose of the Cicerone Certification Program and have been paying attention to the guidelines. The test itself consists of 60 multiple choice questions that will cover a range of topics in the Certified Beer Server syllabus.

You’ll need to get a score of 75% to pass, which is equivalent to 45 out of 60 questions correctly answered. The exam is strictly closed-note; using outside resources or materials is strictly forbidden and may result in immediate disqualification.

How Much Does Cicerone Certification Cost?

The Cicerone Certification for the Beer Server exam costs $69, which is pretty steep just for the privilege of taking a test. Buying the test earns you two attempts to get a passing grade.

Do Cicerone Certifications Expire?

Cicerone certifications do not expire and never need to be renewed. Once you’re a certified Cicerone expert, you’re an expert for life. Of course, those who pass the Beer Server exam are encouraged to pursue their exception beer knowledge to the next level with the subsequent Certified Cicerone Exam

How Many Level 4 Cicerones Are There?

There are fewer than 200 Certified Master Cicerones in the world, which makes the Level 4 Cicerone exam one of the most difficult professional exams in the world, simply because it requires such an astonishingly large amount of technical beer knowledge.

Is Being a Cicerone Worth It?

Getting that first certification is certainly achievable with some practice and study. If you’ve got a background in chemistry or have experience with home brewing, then you might feel right at home with the syllabus.

There are lots of difficult questions even on the Level 1 exam, but if you’re passionate about taking your beer knowledge to the next level, then becoming a Certified Beer Server is the best way to demonstrate your knowledge to the world.

Cicerones get a salary of just over $50,000 a year, which is certainly nothing to put down, and even though the pay might not be the most exceptional part of the job, the chance to introduce new beer enthusiasts to their perfect brew, help people find their best flavor pairings, and just share your passion for beer in a professional format is a major appeal of the job.

The best way to start on this journey is through the Cicerone-provided certification exams, and the best way to prepare for that exam is through their syllabus, a resource available for anyone right there on the website.

Final Thoughts

Becoming a Cicerone is a noble profession that requires a lot of technical understanding of beer, as well as an appreciation for the craft and service of it. Most people wonder how hard is the Cicerone Beer Server Exam?

Understanding how to give beer the respect it deserves and introduce tasters to new experiences is the pride and joy of Cicerones, who curate the experience for everyone. The Beer Server Exam is challenging, but if you’re passionate about beer, then it’s definitely feasible to pass it.