Digital Writing Month 2014

As I mentioned on my other blog, habitually probing generalist, I have committed to participating in Digital Writing Month 2014, more commonly known as DigiWriMo, this November. If you are at all interested in what it is please check out the post I mentioned.

What does it mean for here? Well, hopefully some more posts. Some book reviews would be nice [many books have been read], maybe some more essay-like thoughts. I intend to participate in The Session #93 on beer travel.

You may see #digiwrimo in my tweets if you follow me on Twitter. But I’m guessing most of my beer tweets won’t.

If any of you are participating in some kind of writing month in November let me know if you would like some support and hopefully we can find a mutual venue.

Bend Beer: A History of Brewing in Central Oregon. Get it!

Bend Beer: A History of Brewing in Central Oregon by Jon Abernathy is out today and if you have any interest in Bend and Central Oregon history and, in particular, the region’s history of brewing then you need this book.

It is currently “the definitive” book on brewing in Central Oregon, but I know even Jon wants more answers to some things. There is more he could not fit due to space constraints. Such is book authorship.

I heartily and fully recommend this book.

Cover of Bend Beer by Jon Abernathy. Photo by Gina Schauland.

Cover of Bend Beer by Jon Abernathy. Photo by Gina Schauland.

That said, and with hopefully more to come, some caveats are in order (whether required by the man or not): Jon Abernathy is my friend. I read the book ~1.5 times while it was being written and finalized. I read the first half through and then, when given the whole, read it over again from the start. Sara read the whole thing also. In fact, for part of our editing sessions I read it out loud and I made notes as either caught something.

This reading was in editing mode. Nonetheless, I saw so many (informationally) juicy bits that answer questions I’ve had and/or provide another angle into several other seriously “itchy” unanswered ones. I am really looking forward to sitting down with our copy and making notes for me instead of for the author. ;) Jon has seriously extended my knowledge. But often better knowledge only leads to better/different questions. [Do not mistake that "juicy" for 'the book contains "the dirt"' on anyone's favorite brewery. That is not the case; Jon is not a mudslinger.] Also, our copy was given to us. OK, I think that’s all the disclosure needed.

Media and such:

The book’s website which includes author signing events.

Jon’s announcement at his beer blog, The Brew Site, which lists 8 locations in Bend to buy a physical copy, one in Portland, and several online links.

An interview with the author at #pdxbeergeeks.

If Facebook is your thing.

I hope to have more to say/review the book once I have re-read it on my own terms. Seems only fair.

The first couple of chapters give us good insight into the history of the region, including alcohol and Prohibition, and bring us up to Deschutes Brewery’s founding in 1988. There was brewing in Central Oregon well before 1988. It just wasn’t in Bend. Or for long.

I, personally, still have questions, in particular, about beer in Bend (and Central Oregon, generally) prior to Prohibition in 1916 [Even more particularly, before 1907-ish]. Jon has chased down an awful lot of history and done us great service, but I hope to infect him with my questions and perhaps we can both work at chasing down more answers and more interesting questions. :D

Throughout these chapters we learn about the various industries that have driven Bend and its frequent, rapid growth.

In the next few chapters, we learn about Deschutes, the second wave of breweries, and the explosion of breweries and beer tourism. It truly is a heady ride.

Sara and I have only been here in Bend a bit over 2 years but the number of breweries in Central Oregon has more than doubled since we arrived; a good percentage of them in Bend.

Contents:

Foreword, by Gary Fish
Preface
Acknowledgments

1. Beer on the Frontier: Saloons, Isolation and Homesteads on the High Desert
2. Prohibition on the High Desert
3. Timber Town: The Boom Years
4. Recreation and Tourism
5. Laying Foundations: Deschutes Brewery and Other Pioneers
6. The Second Wave
7. The Brewery Explosion and the Rise of Beer Tourism
8. Beer Town, USA

Appendix. Timeline
Bibliography
Index
About the Author

The foreword is by Gary Fish, founder of Deschutes Brewery, and the gorgeous cover photo is by Gina Schauland, of Deschutes Brewery and Central Oregon Beer Angels.

I encourage you to buy a copy but the local libraries ought have copies fairly quickly. I asked our collection development librarian at COCC Barber Library to order a copy or two this morning. I also poked Deschutes Public Library via Twitter. Others should feel free to request their local libraries acquire it. In the meantime, there are lots of places to grab a copy locally and several online.

Beers Made By Walking Tapping in Bend

Beers Made By Walking Tapping in Bend, Oregon, on October 15th

What: Beers Made By Walking Tapping in Bend, OR
When: October 15th, 6-9pm
Where: Broken Top Bottle Shop, 1740 NW Pence Lane, Bend
Cost: Pay per pint or per sample

This post covers two events: the hike I went on and the unique tasting event at BTBS on 15 October. See below for more details of the both the tasting event at Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café and of the hike.

Middle Deschutes River and Deschutes River Canyon. Beers Made By Walking, Oregon Natural Desert Association, and Deschutes Brewery Hike on 22 May 2014. [Photo courtesy of BMBW.]

Middle Deschutes River and Deschutes River Canyon. Beers Made By Walking, Oregon Natural Desert Association, and Deschutes Brewery Hike on 22 May 2014. That’s me in the brown hat and blue backpack up front. [Photo courtesy of BMBW.]

On 22 May of this year I went on a hike with to the Middle Deschutes River with Deschutes Brewery, Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) and Eric Steen of Beers Made By Walking. We hiked the Scout Camp trail down into the Deschutes River Canyon and saw the confluence of Whychus Creek and the Deschutes River, among other natural beauties.

Confluence of Whychus Creek (on right) and Middle Deschutes (on left) "on the ground," so to speak.

Confluence of Whychus Creek (on right) and Middle Deschutes (on left) “on the ground,” so to speak.
My entire Flickr set here.

More commentary and photos follow the info on the upcoming tasting at Broken Top Bottle Shop.

Beers Made By Walking (BMBW) is a program that invites brewers to go on nature hikes and make new beer inspired by plants that are identified on the trail. Each hike is unique and each beer that is produced is a drinkable landscape portrait of the trail we hiked. On October 15th, from 6-9pm at Broken Top Bottle Shop, beer lovers will have the opportunity to try new beers inspired by hikes around the Bend Region.

These hike-inspired beers were produced through a collaboration between BMBW and the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) through a series of public hikes with brewers throughout the summer.

Participating local brewers that joined in on the hikes include Crux Fermentation Project, Deschutes Brewery, and Worthy Brewing.

Each brewer will serve their new beer on October 15th. Additionally, Laurelwood Brewing (Portland), and Seven Brides Brewing (Silverton) will also tap special beers based off hikes in their region.

Visitors will have the opportunity to meet the brewers, learn about the various hikes that inspired the beers, and learn about some of ONDA and BMBW’s recent work. Beers will be sold by the pint and in sample sizes until they run out. 100% of the proceeds from this event will benefit the Oregon Natural Desert Association.

What: Beers Made By Walking Tapping in Bend, OR
When: October 15th, 6-9pm
Where: Broken Top Bottle Shop, 1740 NW Pence Lane, Bend
Cost: Pay per pint or per sample

Tap list and details available as of this moment:

Crux River Trail Sour
ABV 9.0. IBU 15. Special ingredients are, choke cherries, and mint. Also fermented with a mixed culture from Crooked Stave out of Colorado. This is a blend of our Saison and a barrel aged golden sour. There is crisp light tartness to it that blends very smoothly with the dry fruity flavors of the saison. There is also a slight pink color from the choke cherries, and a very slight mint flavor in the finish.

Worthy Walk on the Wild Side (Badlands Indigenous Ale).
6.5% ABV. 14 IBUs. Beer brewed with Juniper tips, juniper berries, Indian Rice grass, Desert Sage, wheatgrass, and fescue.

Deschutes Botanic Ale – A light and crisp beer with rye, wild sage, and meadowsweet, rose and Stella hops, inspired by a wildflower hike on the Middle Deschutes River.

Laurelwood Saison de Walkle – Saison with rose hips and elderberries. 5.5%, 12 IBU

Seven Brides Pseudo Tsuga IPA – Light bodied IPA with a piney aroma and resiny flavor from the addition of Douglas Fir needle tea. 5.4%, 60 IBU

I fully intend to be at this tasting and I hope you will be too.

xxxx

Eric Steen (BMBW), left. ONDA tour guide, middle. Veronica Vega (Deschutes), right.

There were a total of six people on the Deschutes hike: Veronica Vega (Deschutes Pub Brewer extraordinaire), Gina Schauland (Deschutes Social Media Coordinator & Event Promotions), our trail guide from ONDA, another young woman, Eric of BMBW, and me.

[Let me go on record and say that I am an ass regarding names. I sincerely apologize to the two young ladies whose names I don't know. I guarantee you that I remember your faces, and, with any luck, the context from which I recognize you.] [Nikki! (no idea of spelling. The other young lady is Nikki. I think/believe.]

I was going to put about a dozen photos from our hike here but then I realized that there are 100s from the Canon and not just iPhone photos. Instead, I am uploading them and will link there here shortly. All of them. Unretouched.

Still. One more.

This is also the confluence of the Whychus and Deschutes. That spear coming in from the left ... Deschutes to the left, Whychus from the right.

This is also the confluence of the Whychus and Deschutes. That spear coming in from the left … Deschutes to the left, Whychus from the right. You can actually see water from both in this photo also.

I had the Deschutes Botanic Ale on 5 September when late one evening Sara and I wandered into the pub for a nightcap and it was on tap. The pub manager bought us our beer when she heard I had gone on the hike. I do not think it was supposed to be on and may have been so accidentally. Nonetheless, I quite enjoyed it and am looking forward to having it again at 5 or so weeks older. Which is only about difference; not “better.” With botanicals they can change quite rapidly.

I do not know where the rest of the Bend beer geeks were on these hikes; I heard there were low turnouts on the other two hikes also. Anyway, this was an amazing honor along with being an amazing adventure. Ok. I know the rest of you up here do hikes like these for breakfast but this made me work a bit. That’s neither here nor there.

The beauty was everywhere. From the tiny little flora to the grandeur of the rugged, sweeping views capped off by a perfectly blue sky with wispy clouds. Since we carpooled, I rode up to the hike area with Veronica and Gina and gained a little insight into my favorite big brewery. On the way back, Eric joined us and to be privy to the discussion between Veronica and Eric was, indeed, a privilege.

There was discussion of sourcing ingredients, which ingredients were inspiring Veronica and why, when in the process the various botanicals might be used and how, and so on. It was quite fascinating.

If you get a chance to go on a Beers Made By Walking hike do so. Just go.

McMenamins Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale 2014

Yesterday morning I picked up a growler of Mike “Curly” White’s 2014 version of McMenamins Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale, which will be released Friday 19 September.

[Disclaimer: I received this beer for free, if that matters to you.]

I reviewed this beer last year also. Seems I liked it quite a bit but I liked this year’s even more. This year’s (the 5th year) uses fresh Brewer’s Gold (5 lbs / barrel) in three hop additions. There are some dried Chinook used in first wort hopping but they are very minimal in impact. It uses Pilsener malt for the base and some Belgian Caramel malt for color and flavor. See the link in 1st paragraph for more info from the source.

McMenamins Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale 2014 - quite tasty

McMenamins Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale 2014 – quite tasty

Aroma-wise I got very light citrus, faintly lemony, and caramel once it began warming a bit. The color is a cloudy orange. I was unable to get much of a head from the growler even with vigorous pouring but presentation isn’t everything. A better head would help with the aroma, too, though. On draft it may have a fine head.

This is a big, chewy, full-bodied ale, resulting from both the malt and unfermented sugars but also full of the earthiness of the fresh Brewers gold hops. Floral, yet softly bitter in the finish. More-ish.

This is a very more-ish beer. It just helps you along to want another sip after each of the previous ones. I drank almost the entirety of a 64 oz. growler by myself. This is not a beer I would want every day but I want it once a year, every year, for the short period it can be available. OK. I want it more than that but this is even more of an agricultural product than beer is normally and I can live in a world with these constraints.

Lots of fresh hop beers are IPAs and if that is your thing fine but try to leave any preconceptions/biases aside and give this a try on Friday or shortly thereafter. Drink a pint and see if it doesn’t jump help you along and leave you wanting another.

Also, for all you Cascade hop fans, which is what was used for the previous years Thundercone, please give this year’s Brewer’s Gold version a try. Provide feedback in whichever way works for you.

McMenamins Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale will be released at all 22 McMenamins breweries on Friday, Sep. 19th. I can’t speak for all 22 versions but I loved my local Bend brewer’s version.

By the way, McMenamins Old St. Francis School in Bend is having an Oktoberfest this Saturday. Great chance to get yourself some Thundercone.

[Disclaimer, in case you missed it the first time: I received this beer for free, if that matters to you.]

Last night’s very buzzed Facebook review:

Hey #inBend go get some of Curly White’s Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale atMcMenamins Old St. Francis School this Friday. Excellent! Very more-ish.

I’ll be writing a post tomorrow but I got a growler of this as-yet-unreleased fresh hop ale today. I drank most of the growler myself this evening. Just couldn’t stop.

It’s got a little early bitterness from some dried Chinook but is really all fresh Brewer’s Gold giving an amazing full, earthiness. Probably the biggest bodied fresh hop beer I have ever had.

Yes. I got this beer for free, But no one drinks a growler of a beer that isn’t good. I don’t anyway.

Last year I linked to Jon’s review at The Brew Site and will do again. See his for a bit more detail, especially in his tasting notes. Again, we both say go forth on Friday and taste this for yourself.

6th Annual Little Woody Barrel Aged Brew and Whiskey Fest (2014)

My current favorite beer fest, which thankfully is a local one, the 6th Annual Little Woody Barrel Aged Brew and Whiskey Fest arrives in Bend Friday, 29 August and Saturday, 30 August.

The fest opens at 5 pm on Friday evening and noon on Saturday. If you value tasting your beer and smaller crowds then I suggest you get there as close to opening as possible on each day. If you value the party more then come out later on Friday and Saturday. We’ll be there for opening both days.

The fest is 21 and over only and takes place next to the Des Chutes Historical Museum, 129 Northwest Idaho Avenue in downtown Bend.

Basic entry including commemorative glass: $10

Tasting package: $20. Includes glass, entry and 10 tokens

Whiskey tasting: Tokens will apply to both beer and whiskey

Tokens: $1 each and tastes cost 2-5 tokens each

VIP package includes Brewer’s Shirt, Admission, Tasting Glass, and 10 Tasting Tokens for only $40! [That is a nice shirt. I got one at Big Woody.]

Notice those tasting prices. This is not an inexpensive fest. Tokens are $1 each and each pour is 2-5 tokens. I like it that way. Slows down the drunks some. When beer fests are cheap many people go to them primarily to get drunk amongst a crowd. I am not saying it isn’t a legitimate reason. I just prefer not to be around those people.

The website, particularly the beer “list,” could really use some work. Side-scrolling/clicking from brewery to brewery is not cool. I appreciate that each brewery gets a bit more space to tell us about themselves and their beers as I want to know about them before I choose to try them. But the brewery profiles could be pulled out into a single page on the website with links from the beers and a much better layout for the beer information in a much more compact format. Please.

I liked what the Bend Brewfest tried to do with their beer list this year. It could have been really impressive but I feel for anyone who used it as their data was beyond bad. In multiple ways. The wife took all she could get from the website and the booklet and so on and cleaned it up as best as she could and released it into the world as a public Google spreadsheet. Her version was vastly much improved from the official results but it still sometimes was based on conflicting information so had a few problems. I want to give props to Bend Brewfest for going this route but you really need to look at data entry and, before that, standardization of the data. It is not useful if there are so many conflicting forms of data in a field that sorting cannot work in a useful manner. I hope more beer fests look towards something along the line of what Bend Brewfest did with its online tap list this year. Just get the data right. Or do not bother.

I took a look through the beer list and this is what I found that sounds most interesting so far:

These are my top picks:

Mazama La Gaule du Matin – Port Barrel Aged Sour Belgian Blonde :: I love most of Mazama’s beers and they now, barely a year old, have some mighty tasty beers coming out of barrels. This will be a new one for Little Woody according to the owners. One of my favorite beers of both Oregon Brewers Festival and The Bend Brewfest was their El Duque do Porto, which was their Grand Cru from port barrels. It was a “special” beer at both fests and cost 2 tokens in each case. My second taste was because I may well never get it again and it was damned tasty. Even out of plastic.

Deschutes Sour Raspberry Wit (Pub Exclusive) :: Raspberry is not my favorite fruit flavoring (for much of anything) but I love Deschutes pub beers. I also believe raspberry could work well in a Wit.

Below Grade Kiss Me Kate :: We had this at last year’s Little Woody, and then at the Winter Fest at GoodLife in December and we were one of the very few to acquire a bottle which we drank and loved. I have consistently given it 4.5/5 stars. It is a barrel-aged Imperial IPA. I do not intend to miss this beer.

McMenamins OSF Grandma’s Oatmeal Porter Rum Barrel Aged :: Brewed here in town at the McMenamins Old St. Francis School by Michael “Curly” White and Vance Wirtz this is an oatmeal porter which spent four months in McMenamins Three Rocks Rum barrels. 

Bend Brewing ROMANOV, Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout :: BBC has been crafting excellent big beers for a good while now. I am guessing this is an Ian Larkin recipe (but if anyone knows different let me know) and that excites me.

Silver Moon Wild Turkey Barrel Aged Train Wreck Barley Wine :: We have had and liked (me) or loved (her) Train Wreck but not sure we’ve had the barrel-aged version.

HUB Imperial Stout (Bourbon Barrel Aged Motherland RIS) :: I generally like HUB’s stouts and this is no exception. I gave it 4.25/5 stars but wrote this: “At P&S. A bit thin. Want to like more. Will age help?” I am, by the way, very tough on stouts. The barrel-aging may make this even thinner so keep that in mind. I hope not as taste is most important but an amazingly tasty stout that is thin is getting whacked by me in ratings. This is true but also funny as I kept trying to “defend” (and suggest as a stretch for folk’s palates) the Orlison Brewing Underground Stout (a lager) at Bend Brewfest. Sadly, people weren’t having it and even telling me that stouts cannot be lagers. I just told them to learn some history of brewing in the Baltic States particularly and in particular about porter and stout once Russia imposed to high of fees on British imports. Then I quietly left them alone. 

These are the next group of interest:

Wild Ride Nitro Bourbon Barrel Aged Bitch Stout :: I have had a couple beers from pretty much brand-new Wild Ride out of Redmond but haven’t been overly impressed. I do need to get to the brewery and I am looking forward to seeing if they can do a bourbon barrel-aged stout.

Silver Moon Oregon Spirit Distillers Bourbon Stout ::

Bridge 99 / Platypus Pub Collaboration Red Eye Rye

HUB Pink Drink (barrel-aged Belgian Style Tripel with raspberries) :: Again with the raspberries but it a tripel with raspberries could work.

Stone Arbalest (Belgian Ale aged in Bourbon Barrels)

Hop Valley Oakeroo (Festeroo Winter ale)

21st Amendment Monk’s Blood

Good Life Proprius  (brown naturally soured with Brett in a Volcano Vineyard’s Syrah Barrel for a year)

Deschutes Mirror Mirror :: If you have not yet had this year’s batch of Mirror Mirror then try this now. Then grab a few bottles if you can find any left on shelves and store it away for a couple of years. It is damned tasty now but I guarantee if you treat it even half-decently in storage it’ll be even better in 6-months to a year. We have 7 bottles and are going to keep one for at least 5 years.

Worthy Barrel Aged Dark Muse Imperial Stout :: I have had the base beer, Dark Muse, a couple three times and it is a perfectly respectable stout. I found it a bit thinnish, at least on my first go, so it too could be even thinner from the barrel-aging. I primarily want to see how Worthy are handling barrel-aging at this point.

Lagunitas Sonoma Farmhouse Ale

10 Barrel Dry Fly (huge wheat wine, in Dry Fly rye whiskey barrels for 14 months)

Three Creeks Vanilla Night Ski Oatmeal Stout

Three Creeks Night Moves (blend of stouts aged in Pinot Noir Barrels AND Bourbon Barrels)

McMenamins OSF Brandywine Bridge Red Ale

Closing

I certainly will not get to all of those but they are what I am focusing on for now. Tap lists can change and moods can be very different out on the fest grounds versus sitting at a computer at home a few weeks in advance. Thankfully the cost will help keep down the number I try. The flip side of that is one best hope they like most of their beers. It is an easy choice to throw out a $1 sample but much different at $2-5 each.

Hope to see you at the 6th Annual Little Woody Barrel Aged Brew and Whiskey Fest this upcoming weekend, 29-30 August, 2014. Gate open at 5 pm Friday and noon on Saturday.

WordPress, lists, and a pissed off WPuser

If anyone is waiting for my next Cicerone post I apologize for the delay. The Cicerone Certification Program [series] : Certified Cicerone [2] post has been done for several days but WordPress has seemingly lost its mind when it comes to lists lately. Ordered. Unordered. Simple 1-level or multi-nested. Doesn’t matter. Completely lost its little effin’ mind.

I am beyond pissed and have wasted several hours at this point. It isn’t just display although that is going to complete and utter crap but also semantics. WordPress is killing the meaning of what I attempt to write. Isn’t that freaking special of it?

Here’s an example of what I am talking about (screenshot of one thing WP is doing):

Janked up list in WordPress

Janked up list in WordPress

There is some seriously whack shit going on there. I researched and found something about lists and nested lists in the Codex but it did not help.

I had also been using a plugin, Table of Contents Plus, which is currently disabled, but it was not the cause of the problem as it had started happening before I installed it. Early on the lists were short, simple and not so big a deal if a non-breaking space added an extra line somewhere. Now it is far worse.

I have been pulling the HTML out, emptying the entire post content, cleaning up the HTML in a text editor and pasting it back in. Immediately WordPress screws it up. At my wit’s end now. All of the other lists are small and have no nesting but, even when I pulled the above one out as a list and only put a .png image of the outline in, they still get hosed.

::Grrr::

Cicerone Certification Program [series] : General/CBS [1]

A couple weeks back, in a post where I noted that I passed my Cicerone Program Certified Beer Server test (16 July 2014; my profile page), I committed to writing a series of posts on the Cicerone Certification Program.

This is what I wrote:

I hope to write a couple posts in a small series on the Cicerone Certification Program and changes they just made and are facing, what they recommend for studying for the CBS and what I did for studying, some thoughts on their recommendations for studying for the Certified Cicerone test, some extractions from yesterday’s #RoadtoCicerone #beerchat on Twitter and, finally, what I have been planning for studying beer styles with friends.”

I did write the #RoadtoCicerone Twitter chat post

Series Introduction

This series should be 3-4 posts long: this one for intro and 1st level, another for Certified Cicerone, and one or two more for the 3rd level and alternatives/other certification programs. I may have more posts at some point about studying for the exams.

This post will cover the following, along with covering the Cicerone Program Certified Beer Server (Level I).

  • Intro
    • What it is
    • Levels

For each level the following will be covered:

  • Level – URL
    • what will be learned
      • syllabus (pdf) – URL
    • intended audience
    • costs
    • time frames
    • what is needed : books, computer, a/synchronous
      • Beer
      • Free study links
      • Books
      • Other stuff
    • Extra stuff / Miscellaneous

Introduction to the Cicerone Certification Program

What it is

What the program does: certification, education, assessment.

“The Cicerone Certification Program certifies and educates beer professionals in order to elevate the beer experience for consumers.” (Cicerone site)

“… the Cicerone Certification Program has become the industry standard for identifying those with significant knowledge and professional skills in beer sales and service. The Cicerone Certification Program offers independent assessment and certification so that industry professionals—as well as consumers—can be sure of the knowledge and skills possessed by current and prospective beer servers.” (Why Cicerone?)

The primary content of the program and its levels:

“The Cicerone Certification Program seeks to ensure that consumers receive the best quality beer at every service occasion. To facilitate this, those who sell and serve beer need to acquire knowledge in five areas:

  • Beer Storage, Sales and Service
  • Beer Styles and Culture
  • Beer Tasting and Flavors
  • Brewing Ingredients and Processes
  • Pairing Beer with Food

To encourage participation by those with various interests and ambitions, the program offers three levels of certification beginning with the simplest and building to the most complex and demanding:

  •      Certified Beer Server
  •      Certified Cicerone®
  •      Master Cicerone®” (Why Cicerone?)

Levels

So these are your 3 levels in the Cicerone Certification Program:

  •      Certified Beer Server
  •      Certified Cicerone®
  •      Master Cicerone®

If you wanted one

There are currently 7 Master Cicerones, 1544 Certified Cicerones and about 40,095 Certified Beer Servers listed in the roster.

Comments

Beer

Every level requires access to beer in many different styles, with the number of styles to be known increasing with each level. It is possible that you may already have a lot of this knowledge but unlikely you have it all at immediate recall. Technically, you don’t need to drink any beer for the Certified Beer Server level—as there is no tasting component on the exam (all online)—but it helps. There will be plenty of questions that, while requiring factual (and a little theoretical) knowledge, are answered best from experiential knowledge. Well, truly best would be experiential (tasting) knowledge strengthened by simultaneously studying and evaluating using the Cicerone Certification Program framework for beer styles. This is quite possibly the lengthiest part of studying, at least for the Certified Beer Server exam.

Cicerone Certification Program beer styles schema

The Cicerone Certification Program uses the same schema/format/classification for all levels of certification. They use the (BJCP style guidelines) for ABV and SRM number ranges for each style, and they use their own word-based scales for Color, Perceived Bitterness and ABV. You best learn both ways of referring to bitterness and color.

Assorted

Every level has its own syllabus, which is freely available, which you will also need. More resources are needed as you go up in levels. Of course, this also depends on how much prior knowledge/experience you have with the covered topics. There are also optional study materials/opportunities available from the Cicerone Certification Program that you can shell out for. It makes sense in some cases. I discuss it a bit below.

Professional qualifications

These are considered to be professional certifications and are priced accordingly. Cicerone.org is on record as stating that generally an employer is contributing something towards certification for their employee. Perhaps. Except when not. I discussed this a bit more with Cicerone.org via Twitter which you can see and read more of my comments at my Twitter Road to Cicerone #beerchat post.

Next I will cover the first level, which is the one I am certified at.

Cicerone Program Certified Beer Server (Level I)

What will be learned

“The Certified Beer Server requires competent knowledge of beer storage and service issues as well as modest knowledge of beer styles and culture and basic familiarity with beer tasting and flavors and basic knowledge about brewing process and ingredients. Knowledge of the Cicerone Certification Program’s levels and titles is also required.” (CBS page)

Syllabus (pdf) can be found here. This is only the outline. The full syllabus continues for nine more pages.

  • I. Keeping and Serving Beer
    • A. Purchasing and accepting beer
    • B. Serving alcohol
    • C. Beer storage
    • D. Draft systems
    • E. Beer glassware
    • F. Serving bottled beer
    • G. Serving draft beer
  • II. Beer Styles
    • A. Understaning beer styles
    • B. Style parameters
    • C. History, characteristics, and flavor attributes of styles by region
  • III. Beer Flavor and Evaluation
    • A. Taste and flavor
    • B. Identify normal flavors of beer and their source
    • C. Off-flavor knowledge
  • IV. Beer Ingredients and Brewing Processes
    • A. Ingredients
  • V. Pairing Beer with Food

Intended audience

“First-level certification exam for those who work with beer.” (CBS page) Since the Certified Cicerone is for “mature beer professionals” according to the founder, Ray Daniels, then I assume the Certified Beer Server is for not-yet mature beer professionals. Daniels asks “Can you think of anyone who should have a better knowledge of beer and its service than a beer writer?” and reminds us he started as a beer writer [See #RtC chat post]. 

So definitely beer servers, beer writers, folks in the industry aspiring to be “mature beer professionals.” Of course, these folks perhaps should be on their way to the Certified Cicerone. Bar/brewpub/microbrewery/etc. owners and managers. Wait staff. I imagine the case could be made for others. What do you folks think? [See more thoughts below at 3.7.2]

Costs

Exam alone: $69 USA, $79 International.

Exam format

“60-question multiple choice exam, administered online. A grade of 75% is required to pass. Candidates must also pass a short quiz about the Cicerone program. Each payment allows you 2 attempts to achieve a passing score.”

Time frame

Based on how much you already know about beer, styles and brewing, etc. it should only take a couple months of studying to be ready for the Certified Beer Server exam. Notice that the optional BeerSavvy online training gives you access for 90-days so they seem to think that’s about the right amount.

What is needed

  • No prerequisites.
  • Beer – this is needed at every level, unless you are already an expert on styles and your knowledge can be expressed in the schema they use to describe them (a combination of their own and BJCP).
  • Free study links – The Cicerone Certification Program provides some useful study links (yes, some of these are dubious/broken and I hope they update this document soon. I may well comment on these and suggest some alternatives in the future.)
  • Randy Mosher (2009). Tasting beer. Storey Pub.  [ My review ] – This book is pretty much mandatory. If not the primary reference source (the syllabus, probably) then it is the next most valuable. Read this book. A couple of times. I have. And will again.
  • Internet connected computer and an hour to take the test

Additional non-mandatory resources:

  • Cicerone Certification Program Beer Styles Profiles Card Sets. I have a set of these and they are great. They do contain every style on the Certified Beer Server exam.  although there may be some slight confusion: Imperial stout is listed in the American styles – Modern section of the CBS syllabus, while the card is Russian Imperial Stout and is in the British styles section. For the Certified Cicerone exam Imperial Stout is listed under both British – English – Dark Ales and American – Modern, but I am not sure whether they are considered equivalent for the exam. I’ll have more to say about these in the next post regarding the Certified Cicerone exam.
  • BeerSavvy from the Cicerone Certification Program

    “An online eLearning program covering beer flavor, service and styles in sufficient depth to prepare candidates for the Certified Beer Server exam. Study aids such as a downloadable flashcard file are included.”

    • $199 but includes CBS exam; “gives one person access to the streaming educational content for 90 days from the date of purchase.” (BeerSavvy)
    • Requires an Internet-connected computer
  • Some additional educational resources recommended by the Cicerone Certification Program. There are plenty of other potential resources also. Some a little less pricey.

Comments

BeerSavvy

I have no comment on the BeerSavvy online learning as I did not use it. If you are pressed for time and have limited capacity (for whatever reason) to compile your own study resources and guide your own studying then it may make good sense. There are possibly a few other cases where it makes sense. You are effectively spending $130 for training. I have no idea how long it takes to go through it once but it is probably faster than doing a lot of studying on your own.

Who do I think it is for?

This seems to me a very relevant question. I may (or may not) fit the standard idea of who should take the Certified Beer Server exam. I think I fit just fine, though. The larger question will be am I “in the mold” for the Certified Cicerone exam? Perhaps not. Yet. Maybe never.

Pretty much everybody in the beer industry, from all aspects of a brewery’s operations, to distributors, on to the retail service end, ought have the knowledge required of a Cicerone Program Certified Beer Server. Many of those do not actually need to be certified though.

I see certification—at some level and from some organization—becoming more important. It will mean more in much larger cities, particularly with trendy bars and dining experiences more readily available. It will also become increasingly important in real craft beer towns like ours, Bend, OR, and others. People who know (and appreciate) beer will want those serving them, slinging it around (distribution of whatever kind), and those producing the beer to also be reasonably educated regarding beer. It is hard to say how much certification will matter in the future as there are too many unknowns and too many different beer scenes. I do think demand will greatly increase though.

Another source of folks to pursue these qualifications, even if they are “professional” certifications, are assorted hobbyists like me. Whether homebrewer, blogger, beer geek who wants to know more, or some other person, there are plenty of folks who are willing to learn and to pay for these professional certifications. This diverse group is clearly not any of these organizations primary market but they underestimate them to their own detriment.

If industry is going to begin requiring that servers and others become professionally certified then there must be a pay off for the industry. The easiest way that I see to drive that is to get consumers to care whether or not those responsible for providing and/or serving them beer are certified are or not. If it makes no matter, who will pay for training/certification, and why?

I think encouraging folks, like me (and not like me)—hobbyists, if you must—would help spread the word about the value of this sort of certification for the general consumer. I am most definitely a very-well educated, and certified, consumer of beer. There. I said it.

But there is always more to learn.

Previous posts

Wrap-up

This post provided a general intro to the Cicerone Certification Program and covered the 1st level, the Certified Beer Server. This is the level at which I am certified and the only one I am qualified to answer questions about the experience of studying and testing. But I can still provide answers to many questions on the next two levels and indicate where to get more. Next up will be a post on the Certified Cicerone.

OHBA at Starshine Brewery

Wednesday evening we hosted our friend and colleague, Tiah Edmunson-Morton, in a little get-together at our place with friends and acquaintances. Tiah is the archivist for the Oregon Hops & Brewing Archives at the Oregon State University Special Collections & Archives Research Center of Valley Library, Corvallis, Oregon. She had come on her first official visit to Bend.

[I have been sadly remiss in writing about OHBA here. Previous mentions on this blog: Tap Into History: Oregon Hops & Brewing Archives Launch Party 4 Mar 2014 and In which I admit my slackardly tendencies once again run amok … 20 Dec 2013.]

We tried to bring some folks together that represent differing aspects of Bend’s hops and beer culture. We kept it “close to home” and brought in friends who are our most frequent beer drinking buddies and some folks we know but want to know better.

This was really a social event but one with a purpose, or perhaps purposes, for us. We were hoping it would give Tiah a chance to wind down some in between her two research days. And considering she walked all over Bend in 90°+ sunshine she deserved a relaxing evening of conversation and sipping local beers.

One of our purposes was to welcome Tiah to Bend. We helped what little we could with connections for her direct research. Another was to put Tiah in touch with some other aspects of Oregon beer culture. She has understandably been primarily focusing on hops growers and early craft brewing history in Oregon but is well aware that there is much more besides all of the new breweries.

We wanted to expose Tiah to a bit more of the consumption/consumer end of craft brewing and hops: folks who put on bottle shares, acquire certifications even if not directly in the industry, write local beer/brewing history books, blog, take and sell pictures of beer/breweries, cellar beer, visit breweries, …, drink the beer. There are also new hop growers, including some over here in the so-called High Desert of Central Oregon, and plenty of new breweries who need to begin considering their history and how best to conserve that. With all of that in mind, these are the friends we invited:

Miles Wilhem – Exploring Beer, Central Oregon Beer Week 2014; Smith Rock Hop Farm@whydrinkbeer

Miles and Jon & Sherri (see below) are some of the usual suspects that we’d be drinking with, although only infrequently together so that was nice. Miles is into putting on beer tastings as educational events, along with bottle shares. He was a major contributor to the small but hard-working team that put on Central Oregon Beer Week this year. He also is now the farm manager/foreman/handyman/do-it-all/? for Smith Rock Hop Farm. To us, Miles represents a lot about craft beer culture. He is also interested in being even more involved in areas he isn’t currently. Just recently he helped start Smith Rock Hop Farm in Terrebonne, Oregon and in my opinion the history of hops growing in Central Oregon needs to be captured from its birth/rebirth. [I'm going with rebirth as I suspected. One piece of evidence, see pg. 2 in the 1st of 2 massive PDFs of The Hop Press (2 parts here). And why you should follow @brewingarchives on Twitter.]

Jon & Sherri Abernathy – native Bendite, co-founder of Central Oregon Beer Week; author of forthcoming Bend Beer, The Brew Site, Hack Bend@chuggnutt @brewsite

Jon just is Bend beer. He grew up here. He knows most everyone and has for most of the lived craft beer history in Central Oregon. He just submitted the final manuscript for his forthcoming history of Central Oregon beer called Bend Beer. It is due out in Sep. Sara and I have had the privilege of doing some proofreading of the manuscript. We are looking forward to holding it in our hands and re-reading it. Jon was a co-founder of Central Oregon Beer Week three years ago and a big factor in its first two years. He is the primary author of both blogs, The Brew Site and the repeatedly award-winning, Hack Bend. Jon and Sherri hosted The Abyss vertical tasting back in January of this year. Months ago when Tiah and Sara and I were discussing potential Oregon beer blogger’s sites to scrape for the archive Sara & I suggested Jon’s The Brew Site blog. Really, without being directly involved in the industry, Jon just is Bend beer.

Bend Brew Daddy & Bend Brew Mama (Matthew & Lisa Ward) @bendbrewdaddy @bendbrewmama

I first met Bend Brew Daddy on Twitter a while back and we met in person at the Big Woody Barrel-Aged Festival in Portland back in Jan. We’ve seen each other here and there around town so it was nice to have them over. Matthew is tearing up the beer photography #beertography around Central Oregon and further afield, particularly via the Internet. Again, I think that the people in and around craft beer need to be documented. Matthew is producing fine works of art and having fun and making some money doing it, all the while supporting the breweries whose products inspire him. Also, we wanted to get to know Matthew and Lisa better.

Darin & Meghann Butschy – Oblivion Brewing

I first met Darin and Meghann exactly a year previous from this event. I was down at Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café in the middle of the day hanging out and we were about the only folks in the bar this time of mid-afternoon. I was trying to behave but I was bored and buzzed and they were telling Jason that they were a new brewery in town and they’d like to bring some beer by and …. Once they were done chatting and Jason had wandered off, I took my toasty self over to the bar and introduced myself and gave them one of my cards. We chatted for a while and Sara and I’ve been there with them from their public start. Back when we lived closer and I could walk, I was at BTBS a lot in the afternoon when Darin (and once in a while Meghann) would be there. I was almost always drinking an Oblivion beer when he came in. I love Darin’s beers.

Meghann’s mind was blown when I mentioned to her that with them rapidly coming up on their 1st anniversary now it is time to start thinking about the history of the brewery and how to preserve that archivally. I truly like Darin’s beers and, to me, they are one of the very few standouts in all of our new breweries. So I am happy to help promote them. We also wanted to get Miles and Jon a little more familiar with Darin and Meghann and vice versa.

We sampled lots of local brews: Oblivion Aurora Golden Ale, Crux Double Cross, Crux Belgian Gale, BBC Scarlet IRA, BBC Sexi Mexi (thanks, Jon!), BBC Ching Ching, GoodLife Hat Trick triple IPA (quite tasty!), and GoodLife Mountain Rescue. Introductions were made. Conversations were had. Again, this was mostly social and just a start. Tiah is hoping to come back to Bend a few times in the future. And now when she reaches out to any of these folks they’ll know who she is.

Note: Starshine Brewery is the name of our [admittedly, currently nonexistent] home brewery. Untappd needs a name of a brewery, which also requires a named beer [our future massive Russian Imperial Stout is named Information Loss Paradox. Look it up. Being an aficionado of the many concepts and definitions of “information” makes it all the more intriguing to me in an ironic sense, among others. Especially for a massive RIS.] I got tired of not having a location for beers I was drinking at home and checking in so I had to create it in FourSquare/Untappd.

27th OBF: a photo non-essay

This photo non-essay (as in pretty much no words except for captions) covers all three days I attended the 27th Oregon Brewers Festival at Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland, Oregon.

[Note: minor edit to fix misidentified Rogue character. Thanks, Jon! (see comment below)]

Day 1: Wed., 23 July

Oregon Brewers Festival sign as I approach the entrance to the fest.

Oregon Brewers Festival sign as I approach the entrance to the fest. 2:40 pm.

Saying Hi to festival friends - Ginger Johnson of Women Enjoying Beer http://womenenjoyingbeer.com/

Saying Hi to festival friends – Ginger Johnson of Women Enjoying Beer

Roaming musicians weren't going to let gray skies and rain dampen anyone's spirits.

Roaming musicians weren’t going to let gray skies and rain dampen anyone’s spirits.

Large amounts of rain? Who cares? The crowd fits fine under the big tents so is non-plussed. North tent. 3:49 pm

Large amounts of rain? Who cares? The crowd fits fine under the big tents so is non-plussed. North tent. 3:49 pm

Day 2: Thu., 24 July

Trailer 4 waiting on opening for Paradise Creek Huckleberry Pucker. 11:53 am

Trailer 4 waiting on opening for Paradise Creek Huckleberry Pucker. 11:53 am

(Some of) the Dutch brewers chatting with Art Larrance.

(Some of) the Dutch brewers chatting with Art Larrance. Yes, they really were constantly smiling the whole time. I’m not the only one who noticed either. 12:29 pm

People on the grounds of Oregon Brewers Festival and the Specialty Tent. 12:52 pm

People on the grounds of 27th annual Oregon Brewers Festival and the Specialty Tent. 12:52 pm

Tap locator sign in center of 27th annual OBF grounds. 12:58 pm

Tap locator sign in center of 27th annual OBF grounds. 12:58 pm

People under the North tent, I believe. 1:52 pm Have had tons of questions re crowds so here's some idea. Not bad at all.

People under the North tent, I believe. 1:52 pm Have had tons of questions re crowds so here’s some idea. Not bad at all.

Festival glass and both sides of the tokens.

Festival glass and both sides of the tokens.

Library Instruction West conference Portland Spirit voyagers group photo

Library Instruction West conference Portland Spirit voyagers group photo. This is simply to prove I was in Portland for (er, with) the librarians. Hi, lovely wife.

Day 3: Fri., 25 July

Books I was ogling and/or fondling at Powell's. Bickerdyke's The Curiosities of Ale and Beer.

Some of the books I was ogling and/or fondling at Powell’s. Bickerdyke’s The Curiosities of Ale and Beer.

Loftus' Sustainable Homebrewing

Loftus’ Sustainable Homebrewing

Fix's Principles of Brewing Science

Fix’s Principles of Brewing Science

Fisher & Fisher's The Homebrewer's Garden

Fisher & Fisher’s The Homebrewer’s Garden

Keeping Portland weird. The Rogue food vending stall side: Cut-out of Rogue head brewer John Maier's head and a cow with a bondage hood on a surfboard. Why not? 12:54 pm

Keeping Portland weird. The Rogue food vending stall: Cut-out of Rogue head brewer John Maier’s head and a cow with a bondage hood on a surfboard. Why not? 12:54 pm [edited to fix misattribution]

Crowd under tent on Day 3 at 2:33 pm

Crowd under tent and at beer lines, which are at worst 3-4 people deep, on Day 3 at 2:33 pm

I honestly never waited more than 2 minutes for a beer and the average was probably closer to 45 seconds, except for at the Specialty Tent. Even there I usually only had 4-6 people to stand behind. Sometimes none. Once I was about 12th in line and we waited for about 10 minutes but that was because it was just 2 pm and the daily specialty beers were a bit slow coming out. Nonetheless, several people were complaining. I had an extremely hard time refraining from kicking them in their shins.

OBF Beer Garden 2:56 pm

OBF Beer Garden 2:56 pm Day 3

Here ends my assorted babblings about the 27th Oregon Brewers Festival. It was my 1st OBF and I had a grand, and apparently tasty, time.

27th annual Oregon Brewers Festival: Recap recap

Recap of my first Oregon Brewers Festival

Overall, Oregon Brewers Festival was great. I found it well run and everyone was upbeat. This was my 1st year attending and I was able to attend in the first couple of hours each day Wed.-Fri. So it was mostly relatively quiet for me.

Gripes for OBF

I have only two gripes overall. One of them, smoking, I addressed in my previous post. Probably not much can be done about it for a good while.

Drinking water is my second. There was plenty of rinse water at the fest, although all except the rinse station at the Specialty Tent had crappy water pressure/flow. Bottled water was available from assorted vendors and I bought mine from Rogue each day for $2/each. But honestly, $2 for a bottle of water is too much of a markup when every possible means to get people to also consume water should be the goal. Moreso if it is sunny and hot out. There is probably some agreement between the fest and vendors but perhaps the fest ought vend the water at $0.50 or even a dollar. That should make them a decent profit. I am truly grateful for the $2 bottles of water being available; I bought one every day I attended. I am particularly glad they weren’t priced like at the movie theater! But it is still a ridiculous markup when water consumption should be heavily encouraged.

Some may dismiss these gripes as small. I admit in ways they are. I doubt anything will or can be done easily in either case. It’s all good. I’m trying to spend a good bit of space and a lot of time to talk about my experience so I get a couple small gripes.

Props to OBF

At each of the trash / recycling areas the fest had volunteer Trash Talkers. I sadly got no good pictures; their shirts proudly proclaimed them to be from that rare breed the “Trash Talker:” people who help you by taking your assorted refuse and/or help you get it in the right bins. Some were willing to help educate and some just got the job done. I appreciated it and want to say “Kudos” to the Oregon Brewers Festival folks. Well-implemented.

More props to the Oregon Brewers Festival crew: 10 out of my 33 beers were rated highly by me. That is a 30% “success rate” (for my palate) for beers they brought to the fest. And it gets even better. Darn good job! [More info below.]

Stats, various, from my OBF 27 visit to Portland

  • Total # tried: 33 at fest (1 was a repeat from an earlier occasion); 5+ not at fest [fest: 14 day 1; 10 day 2; 9 day 3]
  • Int’l beers (at fest): 8 Netherlands; 1 Germany. (Out and about 3): 1 “Ireland”; 1 Germany; 1 Austrian Trappist
  • Special beers: 4; 1 of which was Canadian
  • Beers rated 4.5-5: 10. 30% “success rate.”

Top Beers

Top Beers (4.5+) = 10
It turns out there were ten beers which I gave a 4.5+ in Untappd so I will declare them my “top beers” (or “favorites,” if you insist) of OBF 27. There were two 5s and 8 4.5s. Of these 10, only one was a special beer and two were international. That means 70% of my top rated beers at OBF 27 were a single token each. That’s pretty good.

  • Dogfish Head Oak Aged Strong Ale (posing as “Shelter Pale Ale”) 5 “Amazing! My kind of old ale.”
  • Mazama El Duque do Porto 5 “Their Grand Cru from port barrels.” $
  • Sprecher Abbey Triple 4.5 “A tad sweet but otherwise amazing! Exceeded expectations and hopes. Aroma = heavenly.”
  • Deschutes Ester the Farmhouse Maiden 4.5 “Excellent.”
  • Bear Republic Grand Am APA 4.5 “Tasty.”
  • ‘T IJ Ijwit (Netherlands) missed checking in ? 4.5 “Damned tasty. Could use a tad more CO2. Very lightly spiced.” $
  • Boundary Bay Double Dry Hopped Mosaic Pale Ale 4.5 “A: pine and a lt fruitiness. C: sl hazy orange. Oh yeah.”
  • Logsdon Straffe Drieling (tripel) 4.5 “A: lovely. Lt pear & some acidity. C: med hazy med yellow. I like this.”
  • Full Sail 26th Anniversary Cascade Pilsner 4.5 “I was skeptical of a NW Pilsner but damn fine job, Full Sail! Happy anniversary!”
  • Cigar City Hunaphu Imperial Stout 4.5 “A: cherry over roast malt. Vanilla w/hint of bourbon. Sweet finish w/choc/cocoa & cherry. Not as good as hoped.” $

Sara asked me on the drive home if I enjoyed it enough to make it a regular trip—we’re still trying to find and program in the fests we like—and I had to say no. If it worked out like this time where we were in Portland anyway, and relatively cheaply, and I could attend the same time of day. Sure! Otherwise not so much. I did say I would like to do the brunch and parade some year, but again I’d want all the other stipulations too. So maybe won’t happen any time soon. I did truly enjoy myself and can only imagine what it was like for those who couldn’t get there until the weekend. For me, it worked well.

Thanks, to the Oregon Brewers Festival crew and all volunteers, breweries, distributors, vendors and so on. Also, a big thanks to Art Larrance for bringing the Dutch and German brewers and their beer to the fest. Massive thanks to Chris Crabb and Jon Abernathy for getting me hooked up to go.

I have decided there will be one more post on Oregon Brewers Festival. It will consists mainly of a baker’s dozen or so pictures.

[Full disclosure: Oregon Brewers Festival provided me with a festival glass and 12 tokens for free. Thus I got in for free and had a couple free beers. Take that for what you will.]