What was changed in Certified Beer Server Syllabus v3.x?

I studied for Certified Beer Server exam for a long time. I was busy with other things and wasn’t making it a priority. Midway through my studies, they changed the syllabus. Luckily for me, I took the exam before the new test was effective. Luckily for you, I already updated my study notes on this website to reflect the changes shown below. This post details the changes from Certified Beer Server Syllabus v2.0 to v3.x.

The Certified Beer Server Syllabus is rarely updated

I started gathering my study materials for the exam in October 2014. The latest version of the syllabus was 2.0, dated June 1, 2013.

The Cicerone® Certification Program had stated that the beer styles in their syllabus reference the BJCP Guidelines rather than the Brewers Association’s because BJCP Guidelines don’t change very often. Well, BJCP released new style guidelines in 2015. So Cicerone updated their syllabi. Here are the changes to Certified Beer Server Syllabus.

Changes to Certified Beer Server Syllabus v3.0

Certified Beer Server Syllabus v3.0 is dated July 1, 2015. It hadn’t been changed in a while, so this was a major overhaul.

Programmatic changes

In August 2015, Cicerone® Certification Program announced that it would add a fourth level to the program: Advanced CiceroneTM. The highest level was too hard, so they added another level for people who want to go beyond Certified Cicerone®, but perhaps not all the way to Master Cicerone®.

“While we have seen tremendous demand for the Master Cicerone® exam, the additional degree of knowledge and skill required to pass is too great for the vast majority of candidates to achieve,” says Ray Daniels, Founder and Director of the Cicerone® Certification Program. In fact, in the prior two years only 3 individuals have passed out of 46 attempts. “The new exam level gives serious beer professionals recognition for additional learning and skill development beyond the Certified Cicerone® level.”

Minor changes throughout

Storage for bottled beer is specified at 43° F unless otherwise stated for a specific style.

“Lift off” caps are now referred to as “pry-off” caps.

Basic grammatical corrections and organizational changes were made as in listing the steps to remove a wire cage and cork.

Qualitative style parameters now includes “appearance.”

The following changes were made to quantitative ABV ranges:

Lower <4.4% is now <4.5%

Normal 4.4% – 5.9% is now 4.5% – 6.0%

Elevated 6.0% – 7.4% is now 6.1% – 7.5%

High 7.5% – 9.9% is now 7.6% – 10.0%

Very high remains >10.0%

Acid flavor was removed from the syllabus. Previously, it was mentioned with sour. Two of the merging flavors, Carbonic and Metallic, were also removed. But I kept them in the study guide.

Aroma evaluation techniques were elaborated to include:

  • Distant sniff
  • Short sniff
  • Long sniff
  • Covered sniff

Traditional traits of regional hops were changed as follows:

  • American hops added tropical fruit and catty.
  • German/Czech hops no longer have woodsy characteristics.

Beer styles renamed

Several beer styles were renamed to match BJCP Guidelines.

Old beer style name New beer style name
German Pilsner German Pils
Bohemian Pilsner Czech Premium Pale Lager
Oktoberfest Märzen (another name for Octoberfest)
Maibock Helles Bock
Hefeweizen/Weizen/Weiss Weissbier
Red Flanders Red Ale
Blond Ale Belgian Blond Ale
Special/Best/Premium Bitter Best Bitter
Northern English Brown Ale British Brown Ale
Sweet/milk Stout Sweet Stout
Strong Scotch Ale Wee Heavy
Imperial IPA Double IPA

The following beers were deleted:

  • Munich Dunkel
  • English Mild
  • Scottish ale(s)

The following beers were added:

  • Munich Helles
  • Berliner Weisse
  • American Barleywine


American Lager was simplified from “Light, Standard, Premium” to simply “American Light Lager.”

Beer styles reorganized

The beer styles were also reorganized:

  • The order of the countries was changed.
  • American beers were previously subcategorized as just “historic” and “modern.” Now they’re broken into better subcategories that reflect the beer styles.
  • German Bocks subcategory was added.
  • “Spontaneously ferments” is now called “Lambic Beers” (Belgium/France).
  • “Farmhouse beers” is now called “Unique beers” (Belgium/France).
  • “Other Belgian beer” is now called “Pale Belgian beers.”
  • Oatmeal Stout moved from America to England. We’ll miss you.
  • Porter moved from England to America, and is no longer robust. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

Changes to Certified Beer Server Syllabus v3.1

Certified Beer Server Syllabus v3.1 is dated September 1, 2016.

There were fewer changes than the last time.

Minor changes throughout

Basic grammatical corrections, such as to “engage” the keg coupler is now described as to “lock” the coupler.

Some organizational changes were made, as in outlining the different way to pour bottled beer with yeast or without yeast.

What you need to know:

So that’s it! That’s all of the changes to the Certified Beer Server Syllabus v3.x. Much of it minor details not even worth mentioning. But I did anyway.

For the more important changes, I already updated my study notes and flashcards on this website. So if you haven’t already started studying for the Certified Beer Server exam, now’s your chance!

Use my free study notes and flashcards on this website for the best way to pass the heck out of the Certified Beer Server exam the first time! Get going and let me know when you pass.

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    I'm Nathan Pierce. I drink beer, I quit my job, and I'm planning to start a brewery. I also host a podcast about how to start a brewery. So I’m studying for Cicerone® Certification Program, Certified Beer Server exam.

    Study along with me!

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