Schools might be letting out across the country, but for brewers it’s time to study up. The Cicerone Certification Program released version 2.0 of its Master syllabus — the document which sets the framework for all of the organization’s certification exams. In addition, the organization published 2.0 versions of the Certified Beer Server and Certified Cicerone syllabi, which are drawn from the Master Syllabus, and set forth the content for their respective exams.
“The syllabus tells people what content we will test on in the exams,” Cicerone Certification Program Founder and Director Ray Daniels said. “As such, it is the starting point for us in writing exams and also for students in preparing for those exams.”
The new syllabi will be used to prepare exams starting on Sept. 1. Individuals taking exams prior to that date should be studying a syllabus with a 1.x version number; those taking exams after Sept. 1 should be using a syllabus with a 2.x version number.
Daniels said the program wants exam content to be based on a consistent knowledge base to make it easier for people to prepare for the exams, but occasional updates and revisions are needed to accommodate new knowledge and current trends.
“This revision is the first comprehensive overhaul we have conducted since the program launched in early 2008,” Daniels said.
The program continues to base its content on third-party standards whenever possible. The Brewers Association’s Draught Beer Quality Manual is a key reference for all aspects of beer service; the Beer Judge Certification Program’s beer styles guide serves as the reference for beer styles.
The most difficult part of the syllabus to prepare is the beer and food pairing section, Daniels said.
“We looked at what is being written and taught on pairing by people like Garrett Oliver and met to discuss the overall structure and content with Randy Mosher (author of Tasting Beer), Sean Paxton (chef and author) and Don Feinberg (industry veteran and importer, Vanberg & DeWulf),” Daniels said. “From all this input, we try to include as many of the principles, models and concepts as we can at the Master level. The most universal concepts then get included in the Certified Cicerone syllabus.”
Beyond the beer and food section, changes have been smaller and more incremental—adding small things that might have been omitted previously or removing things that are less relevant now, Daniels said. The organization of the materials was also refined in some cases to make the overall flow more logical.
In addition to serving as the overall knowledge base for the program, the Master Syllabus serves as a study guide for those preparing to take the top-level Master Cicerone exam. The syllabus for Certified Beer Server is geared toward front-line customer service in the beer industry such as wait staff, bartenders, route sales, inside sales and customer service representatives. The second-level Certified Cicerone is for more senior positions such as beer/beverage managers, buyers, trainers and sales staffs.
Daniels also noted that input submitted by those in the industry was reviewed and considered in the process of revising the syllabus. He said the Cicerone program is always open to input and suggestions on the syllabus from those who work with beer.
At the Certified Beer Server level, the most significant changes have been made to the Beer Styles section of the syllabus—a rundown of those changes can be found on the cicerone.org website.