Part of my motivation for starting this website and blog was to provide a resource for me as I prepare for the Certified Cicerone® exam. In addition to (hopefully) being a resource for great beer in Arizona, this site provides me an outlet as I study for the exam and learn about beer. As an educator, I know the best way to learn new information is to transform it–turn the info into something new. Thus, this site and blog affords me the chance to take what I learn and transform the information–to turn it into blog entries, brewery reviews, and so on.
Last year, when I first got the crazy idea I wanted to be a Cicerone, I knew very little about beer. I had heard about the Cicerone organization and was familiar with a few styles, but I could barely tell a Pilsner from a Belgian. I had attended a few beer festivals over the years but my beer knowledge wouldn’t earn me even a D+ on the most basic of beer exam. I’ve never been a home brewer either. But if I was seriously going to do this, I needed to study right. I came across The Beer Scholar, purchased a study guide and dove in. I started AzBeerTraveler and started writing. Over the last year, I’ve taken four practice tests. On my first practice exam in March, I scored 64%. By August, that had climbed to 74%. Now, on the eve of the actual exam, I upped my score to 91%. As I took this most recent practice exam, it was the first time I felt really comfortable and in command of the material.
As I reflect upon the past year, I realize it has taken me more than just practice tests and beer sampling to get me to this point. Here’s a short list of all the study strategies and techniques I have employed in the past year to prepare me for the exam:
Books I’ve read:
- Tasting Beer, Randy Mosher
- Brewmaster’s Table, Garrett Oliver
- Ambitious Brew, Maureen Ogle
- Beer Companion, Michael Jackson
- Certified Cicerone Study Guide, Chris Cohen
- Three practice tests from The Beer Scholar
- One practice test from Cicerone
Media files created:
- Four Infographics (Brewing Beer, Beer and Technology, Off-flavors, All About Hops)
- Five PowerPoint Tutorials (Malt Profiles, Brewing, Beer and Food Pairings, Ingredient Profiles, Off-flavors)
- AzBeerTraveler created (!)
- Joined Untappd
- Attended an Off-Flavor Tasting
- Attended a Cicerone Beer Savvy Boot Camp
- Flash Cards from The Beer Scholar
- Hosted two beer dinners (special thanks to my wife for putting up with them!)
- Attended two beer festivals
- Bought a beer faucet
- Made great friends at Growler USA, High Street
So, this Friday I take the exam for real. I won’t know the score until around Christmas. Hopefully, Cicerone will give me a great present this year!