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Virtual Beer School – Studying for the Certified Beer Server Exam

May 29, 2021 | Beer, Drink

As much as I enjoy drinking beer and have some knowledge and experiences I enjoy sharing on this very blog, it may not surprise you to discover I do not have any formal training or qualifications in beer. 

There are beer qualifications you ask? 

Why yes, apparently there are quite a number awarded by the Cicerone Certification Programme and also the Beer Judge Certification Program. And of course, you can study brewing and distilling at degree level at somewhere like Heriot Watt University if you have the science chops. 

But I’m not planning to leave the day job and become a master brewer any time soon, so the Cicerone programme was the one that caught my eye. It’s geared towards sales and beer education.

The qualifications range from the lowly but no less important Certified Beer Server, all the way up to Master Cicerone.

I’ve thought about having a go for a while but this year decided to attempt the Certified Beer Server exam. 

For a push in the right direction I signed up to a Virtual Beer School course offered by Beer Sommelier Natayla Watson.

The syllabus covers beer ingredients, how it is made, served, off flavours and also key beer styles from around the world – all conducted over 12 weekly sessions on Zoom.

All sessions are recorded so it’s possible to watch or listen back if you miss a session. 

It’s not just an excuse to drink beer, honestly, my goal is to better develop my palate and ability to describe what I’m seeing, sniffing and tasting.

I’m now several weeks in, and have enjoyed trying to understand the slight differences between styles such as Czech Pils and a German Pils or Irish Dry Stout versus a Milk Stout.

See also  Hatherwood Ruby Rooster Ruby Ale Tasting

Beer School: Tasting Beer Styles

I’m dreading it, but also interested to see if I can identify any off flavours in potentially light struck beers such as Sol, Heineken or Corona.

Do I plan to ever work in the hospitality industry? 

Unlikely unless it’s in Marketing as a consultant, it’s more of a hobby but I’m sure the knowledge will come in useful when pulling pints as a volunteer at a beer festival or for boring my friends and family when we can have a party this summer. 

Alongside the online course, I am making my way through Natayla’s excellent book –‘Beer: Taste the Evolution in 50 Styles‘. I’ll report back once I have my grubby hands on the CBS certification.

Keith Greywood

Keith Greywood


I'm the Founder of Bacchanalian, a food and drink blog. I write about food and drink, with a keen focus on beer.
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