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Good Beer Hunting

Feb 24, 2024

In my time in and around the beer industry, I’ve heard too many people underestimate the Cicerone Certification Program, a worldwide standard for recognizing people who are experts in  beer sales and service.

While I haven’t taken it myself, I understand the rigorous studying that’s required to pass the written and tasting exam to become a Certified Cicerone, just the second level of a four-part process to become a Master Cicerone. And even those who take the test seriously aren’t guaranteed to pass it the first time. But don’t take my word for it, let’s hear from an expert.

In this episode, Jen Blair, who recently became a Master Cicerone—the highest level of certification and a title just 28 people in the world hold today—shares details from her almost decade-long journey to reach this pinnacle. If you’re interested in becoming a Cicerone, this episode is for you. But even if you’re not planning to take these tests, you’ll learn so much about what it means to explore beer, its history, and all the sensory experiences it can provide. There’s a personal side to it all, too, and you’ll hear from Jen about the importance of learning from your mistakes, honoring deadlines, and creating realistic schedules. 

As a straight-A student, Jen thought she knew how to study for the Cicerone tests, but realized that to pass even the first level exam she had to go beyond memorization and fully master the material. Throughout the episode, Jen shares some of the shifts in mindset she had to make to cross the Master Cicerone finish line, including relearning how to learn and strengthening her weak areas instead of ignoring them, like memorizing commercial styles despite disagreeing with the requirement. Listen in until the end to hear about the inspiration behind her newsletter, get tips on palate training and health, as well as what Jen is focused on now that she’s completed her Cicerone journey.