One Saturday morning this last September, I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed with a goal. I had contemplated taking the Cicerone Certified Beer Server exam for some time, and had been reading Randy Mosher’s Tasting Beer as my goodnight story for the last few weeks. Maybe I dreamt an ambitious dream, but I popped out of bed that morning with a bushel of energy and decided that today would be the day. I headed over to my local Caribou coffee, pulled up the BJCP guidelines and began cramming beer style information into my head. Though my beer peeps kept telling me that this was a very easy exam for those in the industry, I wasn’t convinced and didn’t want to fail just because of misplaced trust or laziness. Credibility is a powerful thing, and I wanted it.

My honest exam preparation:

  • I’ve been in the industry with lots of time to talk shop and with access to some more obscure beer styles.
  • Read through Cicerone website in order to answer questions about the program.
  • Read once through Randy Mosher’s Tasting Beer (without memorizing all chemical names or in depth differences between beer styles, just a read-through)
  • Read once through the BJCP style guidelines (Not an in-depth study, but a very thoughtful and focused read through the entire list and sub-lists)


It is a 60-question multiple choice exam, administered online. A grade of 75% is required to pass. Candidates must also pass a short quiz about the Cicerone program (Learn the answers to those questions by reading through the website). The exam costs $69.


 My post-exam observations:
  • I would be surprised if an average beer drinker, outside of the industry, wouldn’t need to study. I’m in it and am glad I studied!
  • More in depth questions between beer styles than I expected (which of these 4 styles has the highest ABV? Which of these 4 beers is known for x characteristic)
  • Basic draft system questions are certainly not common knowledge so brush up on those.

I passed with flying colors in much less time than was allocated, so I believe that if you do the same preparation that I did, then there is no reason why you won’t pass too!

Feel free to ask me questions 🙂 @WinoBeeroFoodo

Next up…I am studying my face off for the Certified Cicerone Exam. Aiming to CRUSH it in one month. Details to follow 😉