Virtual Beer School: Level 2
A 12-session interactive online prep course for the written portion of the Certified Cicerone® exam. New course dates to be announced soon!
Virtual Beer School gives everyone the opportunity to learn more about beer and show what they know
through interactive online courses led by
Beer Sommelier & Advanced Cicerone® Natalya Watson.
Ready to take your beer knowledge to the next level?
This is the course for you!
Virtual Beer School: Level 2 helps prepare attendees for the written portion of the Cicerone Certification Program’s Certified Cicerone® exam.
The exam – and therefore the course – covers the following five knowledge areas: keeping and serving beer, beer styles, beer flavour and evaluation, beer ingredients and brewing processes, and pairing beer with food.
Find out more about the Certified Cicerone® qualification in the FAQs below.
New course dates to be announced soon!
To be the first to hear, email email@example.com.
Virtual Beer School: Level 2 has two participation levels: lessons only and exam prep.
Each live session will include a lesson led by Natalya, followed by 5 practice questions to test your understanding, then time for questions and discussion with all attendees.
If you’d simply like to continue building your beer knowledge, but aren’t interested in working towards the Certified Cicerone® exam, the lessons only track will be the best fit.
For those of you set on preparing for the Certified Cicerone® exam, the exam prep track will have the following builds: weekly assignments and extended sessions.
Each week, along with the pre-reading, a weekly assignment (including fill-in-the-blank, short answer and essay questions) will be circulated and is to be submitted to Natalya in advance of the session. The sessions are then extended for an additional 30 minutes (8:30 – 9pm BST) to review your answers as a group, with a particular focus on the essay questions and how to best answer them for the exam.
In order to make sure attendees get the most out of this extra time, it’s recommended that only people who are willing to make the time commitment to do the pre-reading and weekly assignments sign up for the exam prep option, as participation will be required in order to test your understanding.
After 12 sessions, plus additional time for independent study, attendees on the exam prep track will be prepared to take the online written portion Certified Cicerone® exam, if interested.
(As a reminder, if you’d like to continue building your beer knowledge, but aren’t interested in working towards the Certified Cicerone® exam, the VBS: Level 2 lessons only track will be the best fit.)
Monday evenings in September, October & November 2022 from 7 – 8:30/9pm BST (UK time).
Course dates include September 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th; October 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th, 31st; November 7th, 14th, and 21st. A course review session will be held on Monday, November 28th.
Online via Zoom. All attendees must register to receive the Zoom link for each weekly live session.
Virtual Beer School: Level 2 has two participation levels: lessons only and exam prep.
The exam prep track costs £165 and can be paid for in full upfront or in three monthly payments of £55, if preferred.
The lesson only track costs £110 and can be paid for in full upfront or in three monthly payments of £40 / £35 / £35, if preferred.
(Can’t join live? The lessons only track will also be offered as a DIY course. Each week, the audio recording from the live session and the slides shown will be shared with you so you can work through the course content on your own time. Find out more about this option and how to sign up in the FAQs below.)
“I think the time that Nat took for the exam prep class is amazing. The feedback we got towards our answers each week really helped me to develop my knowledge and I noticed an improvement in my assignment writing the more the course progressed. Also if there was anything anyone was stuck on, Nat was already happy to help answer a question.” – VBS: Level 2 attendee, April 2021
“The course gives a very good overview on what’s needed to pass the Certified Cicerone exam. It also gives you a push to study in a more constructive way. One other benefit is that you get in contact with other people in the same spot trying to study lots of material and just discuss the topics with others is a very good way to learn. I’m very happy with the course and would highly recommend it to anyone going for the CC or just wanting to learn more about beer!” – VBS: Level 2 attendee, September 2021
“There is a lot to learn but the format of discussion and slides is really good. Sometimes it’s hard to know from the reading what the key topics are but as the weeks went on that got easier to work out and also your lesson made it really clear. I’ve really enjoyed studying and if/when I decide to take the exam I know it will be invaluable. I’ve actually missed not having any reading/homework this week!” – VBS: Level 2 attendee, March 2022
Sign up [Check back soon!]
As the live course is currently in progress, sign ups are now closed.
Course sign ups will re-open as soon as the new dates are announced. Please check back soon.
To be the first to hear, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s a Certified Cicerone®?
According to the Cicerone® Certification Program – the certification body for beer professionals – “Certified Cicerone is the second level of certification. Those who achieve this certification have a solid and well-rounded knowledge of beer and beer service as well as basic competence in assessing beer quality and identity by taste.
You will take the written exam securely online and the tasting and demonstration portions in person at one of various locations worldwide.”
Virtual Beer School: Level 2 helps prepare attendees for the written portion of the exam only.
(Please note: The cost of the exam is not included in the cost of the course. Virtual Beer School is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Cicerone Certification Program.)
What does the Certified Cicerone® exam cover?
The exam covers the the following five knowledge areas:
- Keeping and Serving Beer
- Beer Styles
- Beer Flavor and Evaluation
- Beer Ingredients and Brewing Processes
- Pairing Beer with Food
Each of these knowledge areas accounts for a certain portion of the overall grade as shown on the Cicerone Certification Program’s website here.
Virtual Beer School uses the International Syllabus from the Cicerone Certification Program for reference. All topics will be covered, however, they will not be covered in the order of the syllabus.
Find a weekly breakdown of the topics to be covered in Virtual Beer School: Level 2 here.
Who is this course for?
This course is geared towards people who are preparing for their Certified Cicerone® exam.
It is open to anyone who has either completed Virtual Beer School: Level 1 with Natalya or who has gained their Certified Beer Server qualification. (If you are new to Virtual Beer School, please send proof of your CBS certification to Natalya upon signing up.)
Virtual Beer School: Level 2 has two participation levels: lessons only and exam prep. (You can read more about both options in the Course Overview section above.)
Attendees are welcome to sign up for VBS: Level 2 to continue building their beer knowledge without an interest in taking the Certified Cicerone® exam. If this is the case, the lessons only track will be the best fit.
It’s recommended that only people who are willing to make the time commitment to do the pre-reading and weekly assignments sign up for the exam prep option, as participation will be required in order to test your understanding.
Why should I take this course?
While all certifications from the Cicerone Certification Program can be achieved through self-study, Virtual Beer School helps to structure your learning and helps to make the learning process much more fun.
Not only do you become a part of a vibrant community of fellow beer lovers from around the world all working towards the same goal (many of whom you can form a study group with), the course helps you break the syllabus down into manageable chunks, carve out time each week for your studies, and should you need clarification on any of the content, you can immediately ask Natalya for help during the weekly live sessions.
As a note, Natalya does not consider VBS: Level 2 to be an exam strategy course, but an exam prep course. We cover all of the material on the exam syllabus, without prioritising certain topics based on the percentage of the exam that they make up. VBS: Level 2 is not just about learning what you need to know to pass the exam, but understanding what you’d be expected to know as a qualified Certified Cicerone®.
How does VBS: Level 2 differ from VBS: Level 1?
Virtual Beer School: Level 1 prepares attendees for the Certified Beer Sever exam (a 60 question online multiple choice exam), while VBS: Level 2 prepares attendees on the exam prep track for the written portion of the Certified Cicerone® exam: a 3-hour exam comprised of approximately 150 short answer/fill-in-the-blank questions and 3 essay questions.
As the Certified Cicerone® exam is a definite step up from Certified Beer Server exam, VBS: Level 2 is also a step-up from VBS: Level 1. Past students described VBS: Level 2 as “more intense”, “more technical”, and “very fast-paced” as we dive right in, picking up from where we left off at the end of VBS: Level 1.
It is important to note that content covered in VBS: Level 1 (from the Certified Beer Server syllabus) will not be covered again during VBS: Level 2. We will only be discussing the new material on the Certified Cicerone® syllabus. At this level, we’ll go into much more detail on the brewing process and draught dispense systems and introduce new off-flavours, plenty more beer styles, and the principles of beer and food pairing.
Who will lead the course?
Virtual Beer School will be led by Natalya Watson, an award-winning beer educator, Beer Sommelier and Advanced Cicerone®.
During lockdown in 2020, Natalya began hosting free weekly online educational sessions on a variety of beer-themed topics, crowd-sourced from attendees.
The idea for Virtual Beer School then developed from there as a more formal, paid-for offering to help prepare interested attendees for the Certified Beer Sever – and later online written Certified Cicerone® – exam so they could have an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of beer. Now, nearly 300 students have taken Natalya’s courses.
Find out more about Natalya and what inspired her to set up Virtual Beer School here.
How many people can attend the course?
Course attendance will be capped at 60 people (30 exam prep; 30 lessons only), in order to better facilitate discussion.
What pre-reading is recommended for the course?
At this level, while some pre-reading materials will be accessible for free online (primarily the BJCP 2021 Style Guidelines and the Draught Beer Quality Manual), most of the pre-reading will be assigned from these key books:
- Tasting Beer (2nd ed.) by Randy Mosher
- How to Brew (4th ed.) by John Palmer
- The Brewmaster’s Table by Garrett Oliver
Purchasing these book is highly recommended, especially if you are on the exam prep track as you’ll need them to be able to complete your weekly assignments.
(If you’re joining for lessons only, pre-reading will be optional, but encouraged.)
As a note, all pre-reading and weekly assignments will be made available to exam prep students from the beginning of the course, so you can complete them on your own time (perhaps completing one week’s assignment in advance, if you know you’re going to be particularly busy, for example.)
Do we do any tastings during the course?
As VBS: Level 2 is designed to prepare attendees for the online written portion of the exam only, tasting beers during our style-focused sessions is not necessary in that sense.
But, as the in-person tasting and demonstration portion of the exam must be taken to complete the Certified Cicerone® qualification, we can use our style-focused sessions an opportunity to get in some practice, as there is a style discrimination section on the tasting exam. (Check out the sample tasting exam here for an idea of the questions.)
Once you sign up for the course, you’ll receive a list of the recommended beer styles to taste, along with some suggested commercial examples of each. If the tasting element adds too much pressure to your preparation though, it’s not a must.
What happens if I miss a week?
The audio from each weekly live session will be recorded and shared with you, along with the slides shown. You can also contact Natalya directly with any questions on the topic you missed.
What if I want to take the course, but can’t make the live sessions (due to work, time difference, etc.)?
If you are unable to join live, the lessons only track will also be offered as a DIY course. Each week, the audio recording from the live session and the slides shown will be shared with you so you can work through the course content on your own time. You can also get in touch with Natalya with any questions.
The DIY version of the course is the same price as the lessons only track: £110 for the full course. If you are interested in this option, please contact Natalya to sign up.
How long will I have access to the course materials for?
All attendees will have access to the course materials for 6 months from the start of their course.
How do I prepare for the Certified Cicerone® tasting and demonstration exam?
VBS: Level 2 specifically prepares attendees for the online written portion of the Certified Cicerone® exam. However, Natalya does occasionally offer off-flavour training sessions to assist with preparation for the tasting exam and will provide all attendees with more information as these sessions are scheduled.
Still have a question?
Contact Natalya directly on email@example.com and she’ll be happy to help.
Virtual Beer School gives everyone the opportunity to learn more about beer and show what they know.
Online beer education brought to you by Natalya Watson, award-winning beer educator, Beer Sommelier & Advanced Cicerone®.
Virtual Beer School is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Cicerone Certification Program.