I am now one. Until last week, all of the beer I had previously poured was uncertified. Now, my family and friends can rest assured that beer I serve them has been handled in a certified way. Seriously though, the Certified Beer Server exam is meant for beer serving professionals so they can say “I know what I’m doing”. It’s also the first step to becoming a Cicerone, which is the equivalent of a beer Sommelier.
I don’t pour beer in a professional setting, but I was interested in supporting my ramblings on this here blog with some form of designation. For the record, Erik passed the test over a year ago.
The test itself is based on a syllabus. It’s sixty questions, multiple choice, and you are given half an hour to complete it online. Since you do it whenever and wherever, you can use the google. You only get thirty seconds to answer each question, so you do have to actually know stuff or you likely won’t attain the 75% passing grade (unless you are really good at the google). Personally, I think 75% is a little low, shouldn’t it be at least 90%? Anyway, I decided not to study very much (your $79 gets you two cracks at the test) and still did rather well. Turns out I don’t know the difference between Czech and German pilsners, but do generally know a fair amount beer.
As a business, inventing a certification and then charging people to prove they know what they’re talking about seems like a good one. That being said, I don’t consider this certification to be a scam. Going through the roster of Canadian Certified Beer Servers, it’s pleasing to note that many seem to work at Biercraft in Vancouver. At a beer bar, I enjoy it when the server knows their stuff, so having your servers pass this test is a good thing in my eyes.
Once you’re a Certified Beer Server you can take the Cicerone exam, which costs way more money, is very hard (I’ve heard of people failing many times), and requires rigorous training (seriously). You have to drink all the beers, even the bad ones! The Cicerone test has a written component, but then requires that you taste beer in person in front of an examiner. The people I know who are Cicerones, and there aren’t many of them around, are very skilled at tasting beer. Taking it to the next level, Canada can only currently boast of one Master Cicerone, of seven total worldwide.
Becoming a Cicerone might take me over the top…
Am I going to try to become a Cicerone? I might, that or BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program). I’d like to do one of the two, to enhance my knowledge and appreciation of beer. What’s holding me back? Well, I’m worried I’ll ruin beer drinking for myself. I just want to drink good beer with my friends, not think or become a massive beer snob (well, worse than now). I fear going full retard. But then, if I did become a Cicerone, I could respond to every comment on this blog with “Cicerone bitch”.