Failure Never Felt So Good

It has been a while since my last post about taking the Advanced Cicerone exam in Chicago. I realize now it wiped me out more than I thought. I was kind of a beer burnout, definitely beer braindead. I feel I’m coming out of it and want to get back to regular posts, and I’ve got a lot to share. In the meantime, June and I recorded several episodes with the Good Ole Boys and Gals of the Sips, Suds and Smoke radio show. If your local station doesn’t carry it, you can find it on any of the podcast providers (iTunes, Play store, PRX, Spreaker, Stitcher, etc).

In that last post I believed that I was close, pass or fail. I was right. My score was a 78/100, I needed an 80 overall. So close! Fortunately, I passed the tasting portion!

My best hope was to at least get past one portion. I wanted to pass it all on my first attempt, but realistically didn’t think I did.  I thought maybe I passed the written/oral section, but I was certain I failed the tasting. 

The tasting scared me more. I have seasonal allergies, and manage them well, but sometimes they flare up. Also, traveling to a new city can excite them. And anyone taking the tasting test can get a random cold, is so, you’re screwed. However, I had a good day and the nose and palate was working. I am thrilled to have passed the tasting portion of the test! Looking back, I was more prepared for it than I thought. My advice, taste all the styles blind and get the Certified and Advanced off flavor kits.

So, I didn’t pass the entire test. Most folks didn’t. Forty people took the first two exams in Chicago on Feb 2-3. Only six passed, a whopping 15 percent. I imagine results from San Francisco and Washington, who tested in March, will be similar.

Two friends passed the written/oral portion, but didn’t get past the tasting. Knowing those guys, I’m shocked. I expected them both to pass it all on the first attempt. They know their stuff. Just another testament to the difficulty of the exam.

But you know what? That’s awesome. I’m glad the Advanced Cicerone is significantly more difficult to achieve than Certified Cicerone. It should be. The Advanced Cicerone exam is legit, a true measure of beer knowledge between the Certified and Master level. I’m glad it’s difficult. It will mean that much more to me when I pass.

Luckily, I was able to grab a spot in the lottery for the October 12 exam in Dallas. I’ll retake the written/oral part of the test. I’ve got four months to prepare. I’m not starting from scratch and I don’t have to spend any mental energy preparing for the tasting test. Also, I won’t have the nerves this time from going into the unknown. They might change it up a bit, but the experience of nearly doing it the first time will settle me down.

Nothing is certain, but I think I’ll get it next time. Wish me luck.