Have you scheduled your Certified Cicerone tasting exam and demonstration, or are you thinking about doing so? We've assembled this article to give you a better idea of how things will work on the big day.
The first thing you must do is make sure you're familiar with the in-person examination protocols. We implemented these policies for everyone's health and safety and ask all attendees (and examiners!) to follow them. If you are feeling unwell in any way on exam day, please do not attend your exam. We will happily waive the fee to reschedule you, and you’ll probably perform much better on the exam when you’re feeling well.
One week before the exam, you will receive exam day instructions from a member of the exam management team. This email will contain special instructions and details about the exam location. Some exam venues may have specific safety and security protocols, so please read that email carefully.
This email will also contain detailed instructions for the tasting exam, also included below. Please read those carefully so that you are prepared to start the tasting exam on time.
If you don't receive an email from us a week before the exam, first check your spam or junk email folder. If it's not there, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.
On exam day, dress comfortably. Consider wearing layers or bringing along a light jacket or sweatshirt to ensure you remain comfortable if the exam space becomes cooler or warmer than you'd prefer. Sometimes we don't have much control over that.
It is crucial to refrain from wearing scented products on exam day as it may interfere with the tasting exam. Candidates wearing strongly scented products cannot sit the exam.
We'll ask that you arrive ten minutes before the exam start time to get situated. Please be punctual, as we cannot delay the exam for late arrivals. When you arrive, we'll need a photo ID to sign you in, so don't forget to bring one.
And don't forget to bring a mask!
Upon arrival, your proctor will greet you. Please present your photo identification to the proctor so that they can see your name, photo, and date of birth.
Then, you must turn your cell phones off. We have a zero-tolerance policy for cell phone use during the test. Additionally, there is no talking allowed during the exam, except to communicate with the proctor.
Your proctor will explain where you may sit down when you sign in. When the exam begins, the proctor will distribute the samples and two-page tasting exam to you. Each of your samples will be at least 1.5 ounces (45 ml), and we cannot provide additional beer samples. Do not begin tasting until the proctor has instructed you to do so. At that time, please write your first and last name in the upper right-hand corner of the page. We will anonymize your tasting exam electronically before grading your responses. Then you may begin evaluating your samples. Since we send you tasting exam instructions ahead of the exam, your proctor will not plan to give them to you again. However, please ask your proctor if you have questions or require clarification before the tasting exam begins.
You'll have a maximum of 45 minutes to complete the tasting exam. If you finish the tasting exam early, get your proctor's attention by raising your hand. Your proctor will taste alongside you, taking detailed notes and possibly communicating with a blind taster (who helps us ensure the integrity of the tasting exam). They may not be available immediately, but they will let you know when they are. You can give your completed tasting exam to the proctor at that time, and they will then take you to a separate area to complete the demonstration. If other test takers complete the tasting ahead of you, there might be a wait to finish the demonstration, so please be patient.
As part of the demonstration, we'll give you a question slip and a relevant item, and you'll answer the question while being video recorded. We'll score your video response later. Each candidate will have three minutes to complete the demonstration portion. Your proctor may not be physically in the room recording you, so when you have completed your demonstration, please leave the area (do not touch the camera, let it continue to record), find your proctor, and let them know you've finished.
Then, you are free to leave and enjoy a beer without having to think too much about it. We will send all participants a list of how we treated each of the tasting exam samples within two business days of the exam. We will send the results within four weeks of your exam.
Tasting Exam Instructions
The tasting exam includes three parts. The first is the off-flavor identification section. This flight contains your control sample and samples A, B, C, and D. In samples A through D, three (3) samples contain an off flavor. One (1) sample does not have an off flavor. Please identify the off flavor you taste in each sample. The list of potential off flavors appears at the top of the section.
The second section is beer style recognition. For samples E, F, G, and H, you have a choice of two beer styles. Taste the sample and identify the style of beer by circling or underlining your answer.
The third segment is the quality assessment portion. The samples in this section are weighted more heavily because we ask you for more information than in the previous areas. We have identified the style of beer for you. The only thing you know is that the beer may be from a bottle, can, or keg. Your job here is to taste samples I, J, K, and L. Please determine whether each beer is worthy of sale. Based on what you know about the flavor profile of the beer style, conclude whether they have flavors associated with improper handling between the brewery and point of sale. First, answer whether you taste a flaw associated with mishandling. If you taste such a flaw, circle "Yes."
Then please tell us two more things: 1) what is the flaw and 2) what is the likely cause of that flaw. If you do not detect a fault, you do not need to do anything beyond circling "No." However, if there is any reason you feel you should clarify your decision, we encourage you to do so.