How to Become a Certified Cicerone®

Over the past 30 years, the number of breweries in the United States has grown from a depressing 89 prior to 1980 to over 2,800 today. At least 98% of today's operating breweries are classified as craft brewers. With a 14.3% dollar share of the total U.S. beer market, that's an estimated $14.3 billion, it's safe to say that craft beers are a rapidly growing segment of the beverage service industry.

Along with the explosion of craft beer and changing American taste buds comes the need for educated, knowledgeable beer service professionals who not only have a grasp of the 140 + beer styles, but who also understand how to serve, store, brew, and pair those various beer types.

For years, people with this kind of expert knowledge were referred to as beer sommeliers. Like their wine counterparts, this title could be self-adopted with nothing to prove those skills except their word and work. Fortunately, just as we now have sommelier certifying agencies to test and license experts in wine knowledge and service, there is also one certifying organization for beer experts: the Cicerone® Certification Program.

Certification Level Level I: Certified Beer Server Level II: Certified Cicerone® Level III: Master Cicerone®
Prerequisites None
  • 21 years or older
  • Passed the certified beer server exam
  • 21 years or older
  • Passed the Certified Cicerone® Exam
  • 2 years experience selling, serving, or managing beer service
  • 3 recommendations from different brewers, wholesalers, or retailers can substitue for experience
Exam Format:
  • Online only
  • 60 multiple choice questions
  • 75% required passing grade
  • Must pass quiz about Cicerone® program
  • 2 attempts per payment
  • In-person only
  • Written exam with short answer and essay questions
  • Tasting and demonstration component
  • 80% required passing grade for written portion, 70% for tasting portion
  • In-person only
  • 2-Day exam with multiple written, oral, and tasting components
  • 85% overall grade required to pass
Cost: United States: $69
International: $79
Initial: $345
Retake written: $150
Retake tasting: $75
Initial: $695
Retake: 80% of current exam price
How to Take: Register online and purchase the exam from the "My Account" page
  • Register online and email Cicerone® certification program for exam schedule details
  • Exams are held every 6 to 12 months, limited to 12 people on a first come, first served basis
Things to Know / Syllabus:
  • Thorough knowledge of beer storage and service as well as basic knowledge of brewing processes and ingredients
  • See Certified Beer Server Syllabus for specific information
  • Extensive knowledge of beer storage, service, and styles as well as relative knowledge of beer history
  • Must identify flawed beers and appropriate beer pairings
  • See Certified Cicerone® Syllabus for specific information


Ways to Prepare:

Whether you're studying for a Cicerone® certification or wondering how to become Cicerone® Certified Beer Server, there is undoubtedly a huge amount of information to absorb and put to use. Thankfully, the Cicerone® Certification Program has plenty of tools and resources you can take advantage of or purchase to help get you ready for exam day.

Beginners can make preparing for their Certified Beer Server exam much easier by taking the BeerSavvy™ optional paid course prior to taking their certified beer server exam or their certified Cicerone® exam. This eLearning program teaches you to compare beer styles and can be purchased along with your beer server certification exam.

The Cicerone® Certification Program also offers a large compilation of free study links to help you learn more about beer service. For the Master Cicerone® exam, they suggest the following in addition to studying their free resources:

  • Tasting a Wide Range of Beer Styles
  • Practice Recognizing Off-Flavors using off-flavor kits and training
  • Travel to Beer Producing Areas (Particularly in Europe)
  • Brewing Alone or With Partners
  • Knowledge of the Proper Beer Glass Types for Serving
  • Practice with Daily Beer / Food Pairing


Corporate Program:

The Cicerone® Certification Program offers discounted group exam rates for companies who sell and serve beer. Businesses can take advantage of individual training for staff or on-site training by a Cicerone® representative. Your employees then take their Certified Beer Server exams individually online. This is a great option for brewpubs or any restaurant, brewery, or foodservice establishment that deals with the handling, manufacture, or serving of beer.

Related resources:
How to Become a Sommelier

How to Hire a Bartender

Which is the Best Bartender Education? Bartending School Vs. Experience

Top 8 Tips for Running a Successful Bar