Answers to the Cicerone Program's sample Certified Cicerone® Practice Exam

certified cicerone Apr 08, 2024

The Cicerone Certification Program has a sample version of the Certified Cicerone exam on their website. Its footer says it's from 2016, but this is a slightly modified version of the sample exam that has been on their website since at least 2012. And yes, I've been doing this stuff for that long. 

Want to use that sample test as a practice exam for yourself? That's a little difficult without an answer bank. Lucky for you, I've put together all the answers! 

Certified Cicerone® Exam – Sample Test Answers

The sample 2016 CC written exam on the Cicerone website can be found here: 

Use the answers below to grade yourself. If you find a typo or an answer you think is incorrect, please leave a comment and I'll look into it. Of course, if you're enrolled in my Beer Scholar Course for the Certified Cicerone® Exam you could just pop into the appropriate lesson and find out for yourself what the deal is with any answers that seem confusing or wrong! OK, here we go:

  1. Federal Excise Tax
  2. Wholesalers
  3. Packaging date
  4. Any two of these will do: emotional instability; loss of critical judgment; impaired perception memory, and comprehension; decreased sensory response and increased reaction times; reduced visual acuity and peripheral vision; sensory-motor incoordination; impaired balance; drowsiness; disorientation; mental confusion; dizziness; exaggerated emotional states; markedly decreased response to stimuli; muscular incoordination; an inability to stand or walk; vomiting; and incontinence.
  5. Dark color, high ABV, packaged with live yeast, or Brettanomyces and other microbes common in mixed fermentation ales. Beer must be properly stored in order for it to age gracefully.
  6. Refrigerate it and rotate inventory
  7. Identify the following components:
    1. Coupler
    2. Beer faucet 
    3. FOB aka Foam on Beer detectors
    4. Gas mixer aka gas blender 
    5. Secondary regulator
    6. Gas line
    7. Jumper line
  8. Gas pressure and resistance 
  9. Gas pressure must also be increased (in order to provide additional pressure to keep the beer from breaking out in the beer line)
  10. Two things you should check:
    1. That the keg is not empty
    2. That the coupler is properly seated on the keg
  11. What is the first thing you should check and where or how:
    1. What: whether the beer is warming up on its way to the faucet through the trunk lines
    2. Where/how: check glycol chiller aka power pack to make sure it’s working properly and chilling glycol to the correct temperature
      1. If beer on one tap still foams, list two other things you might check:
        1. Is that particular keg chilled to the draft system temperature
        2. Has that beer line been cleaned recently 
        3. Are the vent holes on the faucet clogged
        4. Is that keg’s coupler properly seated
        5. Is that keg’s valve seal torn
        6. Is that keg’s jumper line kinked
  12. Every two weeks
  13. Caustic solution at 2-3%
  14. What velocity and how long:
    1. 2 gallons per minute
    2. 15 minutes
  15. Faucets
  16. Acid chemical cleaning to de-stone
  17. Fresh water
  18. No
  19. No bubbles clinging to the inside of the glass, beer forms and retains proper head, there is residual lacing on the sides of the glass as the beer is consumed. 
  20. Beer glasses should be dried inverted and so air can circulate inside them, which requires a deeply corrugated rubber drying mat or a steel wire basket/stand.
  21. Cask; served; fermentation
  22. The keystone
  23. Growler top should be sealed with tape or a heat-shrink seal.


Beer glassware:

  1. German Pils
  2. Munich Helles
  3. Weissbier
  4. English Barleywine, Belgian Dubbel, Saison
  5. American Amber Ale
  6. Saison, Belgian Dubbel
  7. Best Bitter
  8. Kölsch
  9. Irish Stout


  1. The Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) & the Brewers Association (BA)
  2. Original gravity of the wort
  3. International Bittering Units (IBU)
  4. Color
  5. Volumes of CO2
  6. Mouthfeel
  7. English Barley Wine
  8. Munich Helles
  9. Lambic
  10. American Lager or American Light Lager
  11. Irish Stout
  12. Doppelbock
  13. Biere de Garde
  14. English Porter
  15. Schwarzbier
  16. Double IPA
  17. Best Bitter
  18. Flanders
  19. Scotland
  20. Altbier
  21. Cream Ale
  22. Sweet Stout
  23. Belgian Tripel
  24. Helles Bock
  25. Dark Mild
  26. Rauchbier
  27. Kreik
  28. Irish Red
  29. Belgian Dubbel
  30. Kölsch
  31. Imperial Stout
  32. Weissbier
  33. Gueuze 
  34. British Brown Ale
  35. Berliner Weisse
  36. Saison
  37. American Amber
  38. Scotch Ale
  39. German Pils
  40. Vienna Lager
  41. Oatmeal Stout
  42. Witbier
  43. Foreign Extra Stout
  44. California Common
  45. Czech Premium Pale Lager
  46. American Porter
  47. Ordinary Bitter
  48. Belgian Tripel
  49. English IPA
  50. Gose
  51. The five basic tastes:
    1. Salt
    2. Sour
    3. Sweet
    4. Bitter
    5. Umami
  52. Olfactory system (aroma), visual (appearance), & touch (moutfeel)
  53. Smoking, drinking coffee, eating food
  54. Odors
  55. Water and plain crackers to cleanse the palate 
  56. Distant sniff, short sniff, long sniff, covered sniff
  57. Caramel, toffee, fig, plum
  58. Chocolate, coffee, espresso, burnt
  59. Grapefruit, pine, resinous, dank
  60. Peppery, floral, and minty
  61. Common descriptors for these compounds: 
    1. Buttery, movie theater popcorn butter
    2. Canned corn
    3. Green apple, latex paint
    4. Vinegar
    5. Papery, wet cardboard
  62. Hops (old or improperly stored)
  63. Honey, sherry-like, papery, wet cardboard
  64. Skunky
  65. Metallic
  66. Sulfury (H2S aka hydrogen sulfide)  
  67. The finish aka aftertaste
  68. The husk
  69. Malting
  70. 2 row and 6 row
  71. USA, Canada, England, Germany, Czech Republic
  72. Specialty malt
  73. Straw (Pilsner malt) to black (roasted malts)
  74. Cereal mash aka gelatinization
  75. Drum roaster
  76. Bine
  77. Drying
  78. Yakima Valley
  79. Oregon, Idaho
  80. England, Germany, Czech Republic, Belgium, Slovenia, Poland, France
  81. Australia, New Zealand
  82. End of boil
  83. Aroma and flavor
  84. Approximately 2 to 20% alpha acid by weight
  85. Hop pellets 
  86. Centennial, Columbus, Tomahawk, Zeus, Chinook, Northern Brewer, Cluster, Nugget, Liberty, Simcoe, Citra, Amarillo, Mosaic, Mount Hood, Summit, Willamette, etc.
  87. East Kent Goldings, Fuggles, Bramling Cross, Challenger, Saaz, Spalt, Tettnanger, Hallertau, Hersbrucker, Perle, Saphir, Lublin, Poperinge, Strisselspalt, Styrian Golding, etc.
  88. At fermentation temperature, typically 60-75º F for an ale
  89. Ethanol and CO2
  90. Cooler
  91. Ale yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae)
  92. Ale yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae)
  93. Clove-like phenols (4 vinylguaiacol) and banana-like esters (isoamyl acetate)
  94. Lambic, Gueuze, Berliner Weisse, Flanders Red Ale
  95. No
  96. Yes
  97. Calcium carbonate, calcium sulfate, magnesium, bicarbonate
  98. Proper order: 1) Grain milling; 2) Mashing and lautering; 3) Boiling and whirlpooling; 4) Wort chilling and aeration; 5) Fermentation and lagering
  99. Hot water
  100. The boil
  101. Yeast
  102. Fermentation
  103. Lagering
  104. a) Clarification aka fining, and b) after primary fermentation
  105. Oxygen
  106. To carbonate the beer 
  107. No
  108. Pasteurized beer has longer shelf stability
  109. Pasteurized beer tastes less fresh, Pasteurization equipment is expensive
  110. Intensity levels should match
  111. Low to high bitterness or sweetness levels, low to high ABV levels, level of body from light to full, attenuation level, low to high levels of various flavors and aromas from malt, hops, and yeast, level of acidity or sourness, the contributions of special processes such as barrel aging or added fruit, spices, coffee, chocolate, etc. 
  112. Toasted malt flavors in beer complement baked and toasted bread flavors in food. Roasted malt flavors complement Maillard browning flavors and char in food. Spicey or fruity flavors from hops or yeast complement similar spice or fruit flavors in food. Herbaceous hop flavors complement herb flavors in food. Etc.
  113. Contrast
  114. Umami, sweetness
  115. Bitterness, sweetness, sourness
  116. Sweetness, umami
  117. Baked bread, toasted bread, bread crust, nutty, caramel, chocolate, coffee, banana, clove, herbaceousness, earthy, etc.
  118. Bitterness
  119. Suggest a beer or beer style that you would pair…
    1. Gorgonzola cheese: English Barley Wine, Wee Heavy, Doppelbock (i.e. strong dark beers, not roasty)
    2. Camembert cheese: Saison, Belgian Tripel, Belgian Golden Strong Ale, or alternatively a toasty American brown ale (i.e. pale moderate to strong ales fermented with phenolic yeast strains, or a brown ale that will create a toasted bread plus cheese sandwich impression)
    3. Cheddar cheese: English Brown Ale, American Brown Ale (i.e. brown ales, probably best with low bitterness and moderate fruity esters)
    4. Roasted chicken: Strong Bitter, Scottish Export, Vienna Lager, Märzen, American Amber or Brown Ale, American Porter, etc. (i.e. amber to dark brown ales or lagers of moderate strength and intensity)
    5. Grilled salmon: Witbier, Kölsch, Munich Helles, Scottish Heavy, etc. (i.e. low to moderate intensity, pale to amber ales or lagers, not hop forward)
    6. Cream-based pasta sauce (Alfredo): Saison, Belgian Tripel, Belgian Golden Strong Ale (i.e. pale moderate to strongly intense beers with serious cutting power)
    7. Red curry: Weissbier, Dunkles Weissbier, Belgian Tripel, Saison (i.e. moderately intense ales with complementary phenols)
    8. Chocolate chip cookie: Doppelbock, Wee Heavy, Baltic Porter, American Stout, Foreign Extra Stout (a moderate-high intensity dark beer, carmelly or roasty, with some chocolate or caramel like flavors)
    9. Flourless chocolate cake: kriek or other fruited lambic, liquor barrel aged imperial stout or barleywine (high intensity beer with complementary flavors and big cutting power)
    10. Carrot cake with cream cheese icing: English IPA, American IPA, Double IPA (bitter beer to balance the very sweet dish and do lots of cutting, note this is a great example of why you need to try these pairings yourself – all over the internet you see people talking about IPA + carrot cake, but it’s actually better with a beer that has more malt character than American IPA…many people online just parrot other things they see online without actually doing any testing or research of their own).
  120. Answer ONE of the following three questions – this is a short answer question, you just need to go through your pairing formula for whichever option you chose to write about – 1) match intensities; 2) find complimentary aromas/flavors; 3) find contrasting tastes; 4) discuss cutting; then if you’re so inclined, BONUS) consider some more advanced pairing concepts you can work into your answer. My explanation below is obviously MUCH longer than your answer should be (however, don’t forget to explain in a way that “shows your work” to the grader, so they understand why you’ve made the decisions you have. If you’re an enrolled Beer Scholar student and a member of the community on Skool, please feel free to submit your answers to this short answer question in the post that is pinned to this module/lesson. I’ll give you feedback and may add your answer as an example answer to this document. 
    1. English Barleywines feature a very rich and complex malt character of bread, cookie, toast, caramel, and toffee, as well as an array of dark dried fruit flavors like raisin and plum. They often feature boozy alcohol and in rare cases a touch of English hop character. Aging it in a new oak barrel will result in aged characteristics, i.e. oxidation, such as lowered bitterness, honey-like malt shift, and the development of sherry-like flavors. This is a new oak barrel, not a used one with neutral character or a used one with wine or liquor flavors that will infuse into the beer. Fresh oak will lend the beer flavors described as woody, oaky, vanilla, and coconut, among others. Knowing all that, we can now apply our normal pairing formula. This beer should pair very well with a variety of desserts. 1) First, match intensities – you’ll want a highly intense dessert to match this beer. Crème brûlée, a dense chocolate cake of any variety, a piece of Stilton blue cheese, a fruity tart, a peach or blackberry cobbler, chocolate covered strawberries, apple pie…any of these are intense desserts that will work as we go through our pairing formula. 2) Find complementary aromas / flavors – this is pretty easy if your dessert is baked. If there is any Maillard browning to work with then you’ve got a flavor bridge of matchy-matchy like flavors. Is there a browned crust or a crumble topping or a quick torching for browning as part of the dessert you’re working with? Caramel or toffee or chocolate aromas and flavors are obvious complementary combos. With the blue cheese and the fruity desserts, you’ll want to use the fruitiness of the dish (or cheese) to complement the dark dried fruit flavors in the beer. Other options to work with include matching vanilla and coconut from the wood, or any complementary common British yeast esters such as orangey citrus-like flavors. Fruity flavors in the beer will match fruit flavors and will complement dairy in the dessert. High levels of alcohol also tend to complement sweetness. 3) Find contrast – this is usually easiest done with the basic tastes. In this case, you’ve got a beer that leans sweet. The desserts feature a variety of tastes, including sweetness, salt, bitterness in the case of dark chocolate, umami in the case of cheese, and sourness in the case of fruit. One option is to find contrasting tastes that balance each other, such as the sweetness of the beer contrasting and balancing bitter dark chocolate in a cake or on strawberries. If the dessert has lots of sourness, aka tart acidity, from fruit, that will contrast the sweetness in the beer (and serve to brighten and accentuate fruit flavors in the beer). 4) Cutting – how will the elements of this beer serve to refresh the palate? In this case, you’ve got a high level of alcohol and moderate carbonation. Both of these are powerful tools for cutting the rich mouth coating sweetness or fat and umami in the dessert. Boom, you’ve gone through the 4 steps of the pairing formula, so you’re good to go. 
      1. An advanced pairing concept that will always make a pairing better is if the beer and food item come together to create the impression of a dish or flavor combo the diner is already familiar with. For instance, a barrel aged English Barleywine paired with banana pudding or banana bread could create the impression of a banana split ice cream sundae. We already know these flavors go well together – vanilla and ripe banana with a browned bread or pie crust. 
      2. An advanced pairing concept you could mention is “canceling.’ A sweet dessert matched up with the sweet leaning beer could potentially lead to some canceling, which could allow other secondary flavors like vanilla or fruit to come to the forefront. Another way canceling sometimes occurs is that a fruity beer matched up with a fruity dish can cause that fruitiness to cancel each other out (or, if not cancel, then “soften”), allowing other flavors to shine more.  A related pairing concept you could mention is “accentuating.” In the example just provided, perhaps the canceling effect would result in the accentuating of barrel derived flavors, such as vanilla or coconut. If the English Barleywine features a touch of buttery diacetyl, which is always possible in English ales, that would serve to accentuate any caramel or toffee-like flavors in a dessert. Sweetness is generally accentuated by saltiness (hence the popularity of salted caramel and chocolate desserts), this is another example of accentuating that you could mention if you use a dessert that has saltiness, such as a blue cheese. 



Keep & Serving essay question:

  • Lightstruck is an aroma and flavor in beer that smells like a skunk’s spray. It happens to beer that is exposed to sunlight or indoor lighting. To some people it smells “rubbery.” 
  • Skunkiness is formed by a reaction of hop compounds to high-energy wavelength UV light. The creation of “skunkiness” in a beer exposed to light can happen quickly, in just a minute or so.
  • The resulting compound is 3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol, sometimes referred to as MBT or 3-MBT. 
  • Brewers can protect their beer from becoming lightstruck by either using special stabilized isomerized alpha acids extracts that cannot become lightstruck or, more commonly, by packaging their beer in particular container types. 
    • Opaque containers such as ceramic bottles, aluminum cans, or kegs offer perfect protection from skunking. Brown bottles offer very strong protection from skunking, blocking over 90% of UV light. Green bottles offer very little protection to beer, blocking only about 20% of UV light. Clear bottles offer no protection from light. Some breweries that chose to package their beer in green bottles for marketing purposes wrap their six packs in cardboard for additional protection from skunking. 
  • Once the beer leaves the brewery, it’s up to wholesalers and retailers to store it properly, hopefully in ways that do not result in the beer becoming lightstruck. They can do this by ensuring beer is not stored under bright incandescent, LED, or fluorescent lights, and that it is kept out of the sun. This is particularly important for beers packaged in green or clear bottles. Keeping beer in their boxed cases until it is ready to be put on the shelf or in the cooler to display for consumers is one step retailers can take to limit light exposure. Keeping lights in coolers dim is another good practice for both wholesalers and retailers. 


Beer Styles essay question: 

  • Aging beer properly results in the development of interesting oxidation related flavors. The beer’s hop character will diminish, its balance will become slightly sweeter, its malt character may become more honey-like, and it will eventually develop pleasant sherry-like oxidative flavors. Left to age for too long, however, and a beer will develop papery or wet cardboard like flavors from the development of trans-2-nonenal. Wood is porous, the common practice of aging beer in oak barrels allows for limited oxygen exchange, resulting in slow and gentle oxidation of the beer as long as the process is well managed. Beers that show lots of oxidative activity include Sam Adam’s Utopias and J.W. Lee’s Vintage Harvest Ales. 
  • Aging beer with wood, or in a barrel, provides additional aroma and flavor to beer. Wood’s porousness allows the beer to soak into the wood and extract flavor from it. Different types of wood will result in different flavors in the final beer used. For instance, Amburana wood from Brazil will result in flavors similar to “warm” baking spices like cinnamon, as in Firestone Walker’s Ambuana Parabola Imperial Stout. 
  • Oak is the most common type of wood used for aging beer. Typical flavors from oak barrels, spirals, or cubes include woody oakiness, vanilla from vanillin compounds in the wood, and coconut-like flavors. 
  • If the barrel has been charred, as barrels used to make bourbon are, the beer will likely pick up some caramel, toffee, chocolate, and even roasty coffee-like flavors. 
  • If the barrel has been used to previously store another liquid, such as maple syrup, wine, or liquor, the beer will pick up some of those flavors as well. A beer aged in a wine barrel will likely pick up fruity wine-like flavors, while a beer aged in a used bourbon barrel will pick up typical bourbon flavors of vanilla, coconut, caramel, and potentially a touch char. Examples of such beer would include Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout, Sierra Nevada Barrel Aged Narwhal Stout, or Fort George Brewery Matryoshka.
  • Barrels are also used to age mixed fermentation ales. The porous wood provides a home for the microflora that slowly ferment these beers over time – primarily wild yeast, Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, Acetobacter, and Pediococcus. The slow oxygen exchange allows Acetobacter to oxidize some ethanol into acetic acid aka tart vinegar, the Lactobacillus produces soft lemon-like lactic acid, and other microbes such as Brettanomyces slowly add a variety of additional flavors including a variety of bright fruity esters like cherry, as well as phenols typically described as leathery, horse blanket, and barnyard. Examples of such beers include Cantillon Gueuze or Jester King’s SPON series.


Beer Ingredients and Process essay question: 

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) is highly soluble in water-based liquids. It dissolves readily in cold beer. It is most commonly measured in “volumes.” This compares the volume of dissolved gas to the volume of liquid (vol/vol, i.e. volumes per volume). 
    • The other less common way to measure carbonation is the weight of gas in solution compared to the volume of liquid (grams per liter). To get this approximate number you simply double the measurement in volumes.
  • The typical volume of CO2 in still lambic or certain super high gravity specialty beers, such as Sam Adams Utopias, may be extremely low, from nearly 0.0 to approaching the atmospheric level of 1.0 volumes.   
  • The typical volume of CO2 in English Real Ale packaged in a cask is approximately 1.0, atmospheric pressure. It can range from approximately 0.8 to 1.5 volumes, depending on how actively the cask has been fermenting and how it is being managed by the cellarperson. An example is Fullers London Pride served from a cask. 
  • Typical volumes of CO2 for average American and English ales packaged in cans, bottles, or kegs range from approximately 1.5 to 2.6 volumes. Examples include Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, New Belgium Voodoo Ranger IPA, or Fuller’s ESB in a bottle. It is often the case that British ales are packaged with slightly lower volumes of CO2 than American ales. 
  • Typical volumes of CO2 for average pale lagers, including those made by very large international breweries, is typically slightly higher than for ales. Their volumes typically range from approximately 2.5 to 2.8 volumes of CO2. Examples include Budweiser, Paulaner Premium Pils, or Pilsner Urquell, as well as common craft lagers such as Brooklyn Brewery Pilsner.
  • Typical volumes of CO2 for Belgian and German Weizen ales can be quite high, ranging from approximately 3.0 to 4.0 volumes. Examples include Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier, Schneider Weisse Original Weissbier, Delirium Tremens, Duvel, Saison Dupont, St. Bernardus Tripel, Westmalle Tripel, and Chimay Blue. Some of these Belgian ales have such high carbonation and internal pressure levels that they are sold in thick glass bottles with a cork and cage, similar to champagne. 
    • Note: I’ve listed more examples in these essay answers than you’ll need to list on your exam. The point is to demonstrate that there are always plenty of options to choose from. 
    • Note: This is one of many beer topics where, if you poke around online, you’ll see there is no total agreement on the exact number of volumes for various types of beer. In your essay answer you simply need to be in the proper realm for the volumes you list. Beyond that, you want to demonstrate you understand how various broadly defined beer style types typically compare to each other in terms of their carbonation levels. I.e. cask ale is low, most ales are medium, most lagers are a little higher, and Belgian ales and German Weizen ales can be extremely high carbonation.  

Phew, you made it! I hope that was helpful. Hit me up if you want to go into the exam with a guaranteed pas on your first try. The CC exam has a <40% pass rate, but Beer Scholar students pass on their first take 99% of the time. No kidding. The majority of Certified Cicerones® out there used Beer Scholar to pass. Get enrolled for access to all the lessons, practice exams, the community space, and weekly tasting sessions with me. Here's a free workshop you should check out right now


Advanced Cicerone & National BJCP beer judge Chris Cohen 

certified cicerone