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Everything You Need To Know About The Cicerone Certification Programme

In this age, we have beer geeks, beer snobs, enthusiasts. And then we have Cicerones – the beer world’s answer to sommeliers!

Every Cicerone, pronounced as “sis-uhrohn”, goes through a rigorous process to become one of the most respected beer nerds. Certification always sets you apart in a world full of experts and geeks. And while there are a handful of certifications offered around the world, our focus in this article is purely on the Cicerone certification programme.

Let’s begin with what the Cicerone Certification Programme is. It was founded by Ray Daniels, a veteran of the craft beer industry, long-time brewer and a beer expert. Daniels brings more than 25 years of his brewing, judging, studying and writing experience. Cicerone Certification Programme is aimed at beer professionals and enthusiasts to elevate the beer experience for consumers. It offers industry professionals as well as consumers a platform to learn and develop skills that are essential to serve, store and handle a beer. Due to improper handling and serving practices, we see that beers are not treated the way they are supposed to. Every place which serves beer should have a basic understanding of beer ingredients, beer styles, flavour and evaluation, appropriate glassware and storing beers. There’s a lot more to the certification than this. To break it down, the Cicerone programme is divided into four certification levels. Each of these is discussed below on a high level.

A dirty beer glass with bubbles clinging onto the sides

Level 1: Certified Beer Server

This serves as an entry-level for the program where it primarily lays emphasis on the fundamentals. Some of the key topics at this level are storing & handling, preparation to serve, types of glassware, troubleshooting draft systems, beer ingredients and beer styles. Level 1 assessment is 100% online and results follow

Level 2: Certified Cicerone

Certified Cicerone dives a little deeper than the fundamentals of beer server. The assessment here is split into individual modules where the first part is a written section followed by an oral demonstration and tasting exam. This is an intense test of your skills which is very stressful but rewarding in the end. Passing level 1 serves up as a prerequisite.

Level 3: Advanced Cicerone

As you coast further into the programme, you get deeply embedded into the beer vocabulary. Those who achieve level 3 certification possess an expert level of knowledge and excellent beer sensory skills. Advanced Cicerone requires a great level of understanding beer and its flavours as well as the ability to describe them using consumer and brewer vocabulary. Besides this, a great deal of knowledge on beer styles, draft systems and food pairings is expected. Exams are again split into multiple sections comprising of written, oral and tasting components.

Level 4: Master Cicerone

If you’ve come this far then you have mastered it all. This is considered one of the most brutal exams as there are only about 19 Master Cicerones all over the globe. To earn this title, candidates must go through a two-day exam that challenges individuals to master every technical and aesthetic aspect of beer. As a prerequisite, all individuals must have passed the Advanced Cicerone exam prior to attempting this.

To prepare for each level of certification, Cicerone recommends their study products which are curated to train you for the exams. However, these products are to be purchased separately in addition to the exam. All the certified candidates are awarded certificates, badges and pins to make them stand apart and are also featured in Cicerone’s directory where anyone can look them up.