Perserverence Pays Plenty
A not so brief outline of how long it took and the experiences I had in passing the Advanced Cicerone® exam. Fair warning: there will be F bombs. The supporting actors in this story are: My fabulous husband who is the best ever in all aspects, Tyson (who lent multiple ears, shoulders, guidance, and support), and some wonderful friends, family, and beers.
the Advanced Cicerone®. I tell my husband I think I want to do that, since the Master seems too extreme for my needs, but Certified doesn’t seem like quite enough for what I want to do in life with beer.8/14/2015
Enter lottery for West Coast Exam in fall 2016..4/26/2016
Won the seat lottery to sit the exam in California in November5/12/2016
Took the exam for the first time, at the Bruery Terreux in California. Read about what it entails here. After the exam I got to chat and kvetch (“what the fuck is geosmin?!”), and drink some delicious brews at that tasting room. I then ubered myself to the Disneyland Trader Sam’s Tiki Bar. I had a Karl Strauss beer and a Shrunken Zombie head cocktail, and congratulated myself for getting out there and trying something so difficult. Go me!11/16/2016
Decided what this next study session will look like, and signed up for a retake of the full exam in Chicago3/3/2017
Didn’t pass the overall again (75%, need 80 to pass), but I did technically pass tasting (got a 77% for that section). Cried. Decided to wait to consider next move after Christmas11/9/2017
Take General Certificate exam in Seattle. I go north to visit my parents, and my dad had a “slipped disk” that had him laid up that day. That turned that week into to be a 3 week hospital stay for sepsis. He survived, is in great health, and always likes to tell you how lucky he is. He’s the person who taught us “Perseverance Pays Plenty.” He’s rad. My mom is also rad. My brother, he’s rad too.5/9/2018
Attended ASBC Lab training down in Colorado, drank delicious Fort Collins brews, and got to see my friend who was going to Captain Training for her airline at the same time. Bad ass ladies, doing bad ass things!7/4/2018
Didn’t pass the GCB either. Question myself on all decisions. Cry more.7/14/2018
Looked through past results to figure out what to focus on this time, and signed up for a
full Advanced Cicerone retake in Seattle. Perseverance Pays Plenty! Or maybe I’m just stubborn?
Met my hero Julia Herz at the Pink Boots Society National conference. Told her she’s the
best, found out she also hadn’t yet passed the Advanced Cicerone despite her best effort. Felt better,
and adored her even more after meeting her. Also drank delicious Austin beers with kick ass ladies.
Took exam at Columbia Distributing, in their Kent location. Met rad folks, overall felt pretty great about the exam. Drank Double Rainbow at the hotel, because the hotel manager saw an IHB email address on the booking, and thought it would give me a taste of home. I’ll recommend that Best Western any time.4/24/2019
Well it turned out that I hate everything and everyone. (78% overall). Cry, curse, imagined being Godzilla and knocking down buildings. Drown sorrows while on vacation with friends. Maui Brewing helps all things. Tyson and Paul have serious talks with me about my drive for the test, and if it’s possibly unhealthy (but in a kind way).
Reflect on the fact that some essays got 90%, and a beer style essay got 55%. Talk to Chris at the exam place to ask about grading for specific essays. Tell myself there’s a small chance I could raise my grade to passing with just a really good tasting exam. Drinking more beers? What a shame!6/17/2019
Signed up for a tasting retake in Chicago. I got this!6/20/2019
Sat the tasting exam, felt pretty ok about it. Met and hung out with very cool people who were also doing the tasting only. Also had beers with the same friend who is now based in Chicago (Captain Karla!), saw more family, and drank more 3 Floyds.11/7/2019
2pm. So much for trying the easy route, because I didn’t bump my score up high enough. Pretty sure I cried. I also began to dread seeing the Cicerone Org in my email inbox.12/18/2019
3:45pm- Signed up for a written retake in Denver. Fuck it, I have the info in my brain! I’m so close!12/18/2019
Discover a machine is statistically not so good at its job. Another existential crisis ensues. Cry to husband about not feeling ready for exam whatsoever due to work stressors.2/15/2020
Exam that was scheduled for 3/25/2020 in Denver is postponed, due to the virus that unfortunately shares a name with a beer. “Thank fuck” is the email I send to Tyson and my husband.3/12/2020
First St Paddy’s day since 2013 that I didn’t go to an IHB party. Watch Dropkick Murphy’s on youtube live, and ponder the future of the coronavirus.3/17/2020
Installed a machine that enjoys eating all of Morgan’s and my time, energy, and enthusiasm.7/1/2020
I sit the exam at home, online, with me and my screen recorded. The kitties only caused minor catastrophes. I don’t feel so hot about the test, especially after all the time and energy dedicated to the problem machine since July, and I told anyone who’d listen I bet I got a 76%9/22/2020
I got a 76%. I contemplate quitting my job, cried a TON, and was generally surly and weepy for the next week or so. Paul and Tyson console, and encourage me to take a break, or reassess how I go into the test.10/19/2020
After prolonged discussions with my husband and Tyson, signed up for another written retake at home/Chicago (depending on virus) for February.10/29/2020
Per advice from Paul and Tyson, stay home from work to study and be in a fresh clean brain mindset for test. Afternoon of the 18th, my husband comes home to tell me 6 pallets of very important time sensitive beer froze in shipment and were leaking. Fuck.
Distract my brain with watching Perseverance Rover land on mars.
“This is the year” I tell myself, “Perseverance pays plenty” like my dad always says!2/18/2021
Sit the exam. Felt great until 20 mins left in the exam I experienced technical difficulties. Spent the next hour texting Chris at Cicerone, and trying to figure out my next move. Will the essays be erased? Will I need to take it again?
Why is this happening?!
Have a beer at Pretty Fair with Paul to relax.
Chris stays in contact, everything is recovered (“Except my 20 minutes! I could have used that time!” I hear being yelled in my brain). I set a reminder on my calendar 4 weeks out to warn myself of potential result email.2/21/2021
9:13am. See the dreaded email pop up in my inbox. Do I open it? Put your big girl pants on Rikki, you can do this!
THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING??!
The next hour is a whirlwind of thanking Chris, telling and kissing Paul, grabbing a beer off the line (Mel’s Magic fresh off the line was more than perfect that morning), telling and high fiving everyone I see, call my Dad (who, again, always said, “Perseverance Pays Plenty!”), group text all my loved ones and friends, and proceed to celebrate with many many beers at Pretty Fair and some Trevari of course.
Rikki Welz, Advanced Cicerone®4/1/2021
Rikki is an Advanced Badass!
An interruption from the Iron Horse Brewery Cousinhood for a second. As you can no doubt see, Rikki is indeed a certified, Advanced badass! She is as kind as she is driven. Anyone that has had the pleasure of meeting her knows how contagious her enthusiasm for people and beer are. She is too humble to use such a title, fortunately, Jared was able to intercept her blog post so we can make this declarative statement.
From an internal slack message, here’s what brewer John P, had to say
“Congratulations to @Rikki Welz for passing her advanced cicerone test! It’s been a very challenging road for her learning all the aspects of beer tasting and the brewing process. To put it into perspective Rikki is now the 5th person in Washington state to pass the advanced test and 116th in the whole country. It is a badge of accomplishment very few are capable of achieving. Excellent job Rikki’!
From the cicerone website:
“Those who achieve this certification possess expert knowledge of beer and excellent tasting ability. Such knowledge generally results from several years of additional study and tasting after achieving Certified Cicerone®. Well-prepared candidates will have excellent and extensive style knowledge, hands-on experience managing beer service, direct familiarity with brewing process and ingredients, and frequent and repeated experience in beer and food pairing.”
Finally, here’s a bunch a pictures of Advanced Cicerone®, Rikki Welz.
We are super lucky to know you and have you on the Iron Horse Team.