California and Cicerone Test, Here I Come

So I just turned 30 last week, and I already know it’s going to be a great year for me. What better way to celebrate than with an awesome post-birthday beercation? Ben and I are headed to Cali tonight! I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this beercation might even top our Denver trip from last year.

The last time we were in California was for our wedding (at Karl Strauss Brewery!) over a year ago, but we really didn’t get to do a lot of brewery hopping.

We have lots of bottles of beer to pick up from both of our Reserve Society memberships from The Bruery, and Ben has a bunch to pick up from his Ambassador of Sours membership from The Rare Barrel. We’re obsessed with everything we’ve had from The Bruery and are so excited to finally get our hands and taste buds on over a year’s worth of exclusive beers that you can only purchase through being a society member. As for The Rare Barrel, we’ve actually never even had a drop of any beer from them! So I’m geeking out over finally getting to experience those beers.

Everyone knows that we’re beer geeks. But one look at our “cellar” is enough to tell anyone that we’re far beyond a little side hobby. You don’t even want to know how many bottles are sitting in Cali waiting for us… The number of gallon Ziploc bags I purchased to ensure each bottle is packaged well was probably enough to make the cashier at Target question my motives.

A lot of cardboard boxes have been purchased in advance and are awaiting our arrival in Cali.

On top of that, those beers won’t be travelling back to NC alone. (Obviously. Those are only 2 breweries!)We’re slated to hit some other AMAZING breweries. And the California beer scene is fantastic. We’ll be picking up lots more west coast bottles along the way from bottle shops and brewery stops.

Ben and I had our list of “must visits”, but beer geeks, being the great people they are, love helping other beer geeks. So we’ve added some other stops that come highly recommended. I got recommendations from another beer blogger located near The Bruery. (Thanks, Amber! Hope to see you out there!) A contact through my work is a huge beer geek who works on a beer publication and gave me a great list of must-sees! And Ben reached out to a local Certified Cicerone (who created the first study guide/syllabus for the test) who pointed us in some good directions.

Speaking of Cicerones… Guess who finally will be taking the test? Ben told me the other day that a test was just added in Greensboro! I was like a kid on Christmas. Ben and I are both planning to take it in just a few short months!

Ben’s got it in the bag. I’m really pulling my stuff together to get prepared. Just a little more than 80 days to go! My OCD has caused me to make a spreadsheet to log hours with a countdown. And Ben has broken down specific areas to review for the days of the week. (On Saturdays and Sundays we go over beer styles.) Only 1 in 3 people pass each time the test is given. Currently, there are 1,633 Certified Cicerones in the world, with around 200 people passing the test each year, currently.

I definitely plan to do a breakdown of my studies and of the test as soon as I take it to hopefully help others out there making a plan to do so.

I think some of our non-beer geek family and friends think we’ll easily accomplish this. But it really is a HUGE test of knowledge, understanding and capabilities. This is a 4-hour long test, including written and tasting portions, as well as a final part where you typically have to demonstrate things involving draft systems, cleaning equipment, or proper pouring or glassware.

I’m learning new things all the time. Just yesterday, I learned that a flux capacitor is actually a real thing! It aids some big draft systems in on the fly adjusting of CO2-N2 mixes and pressure levels. And all this time I thought it just made the DeLorean from Back to The Future function…

Stay tuned to my Twitter and Instagram accounts for updates on my trip and for my #beerfactoftheday tweets while studying! And check back for the future blog post about my epic Cali trip!

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