For those who don’t know, I am involved in the operations of two craft beer appreciation non-profits in Columbia, South Carolina. You wouldn’t think a smaller city could support two, or would even have two, but here’s the sekrit: I also was involved in the creation of both, which proves that if you want to shape your city, just start doing it. But that’s not the point (now).

The point is that despite being so involved in both of these craft beer organizations, I still feel like my knowledge of many of the specifics is lacking. Sure, I know some things about most of the styles, but what I don’t know is the best glass shape for each style, as an example. The glass shape doesn’t matter to most people, but I want to deepen my knowledge and fine tune my senses to be able to appreciate the beers I drink at their best. I want to possess that knowledge to make me a better board member, beer event planner, and connoisseur.

flight of craft beer columbia sc

Conveniently, there’s a tiered program in place for people who want to advance their craft beer smarts. The Cicerone program is often called “the sommelier of the craft beer world” and that’s about as good as a description as there is. There are a few levels to it, starting with the one I am going for, the Certified Beer Server. the CBS involves an online test and costs $70 to complete. This is a level that servers at specialized craft beer bars are required or encouraged to take.

The next level up is actually Cicerone certification. It’s a 10 month minimum studying process and without having gone through it I’d liken it to studying for the SAT or the GRE (but with more beer!). My good friend Ashley, aka the Beer Fairy is a Cicerone and the only female in the state and the only one who works for a distributor. She is an encyclopedia of beer and my inspiration for wanting to get my first certification. Beyond that for me… we’ll see. It would really only make sense for me personally if I was in the industry and was going to exercise the knowledge on a near daily basis.

But for now, I’ve ordered the recommended book for studying for the CBS, Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher. I said I’d start studying at the beginning of October, but my new goal is to start the week of Thanksgiving and take the test before December 31st. Who else has a solid goal to accomplish before the end of the year?