A cicerone is one that has been tested and proven to be an expert in the field of beer. Consider them to be a beer sommelier. Through their studies they receive this special designation according to the cicerone organization. Dallas now has three such designates with the recent inclusion of Veritas Wine Room employee Eddie Eakin.
We sat down with Eakin recently to ask him a few questions.
Crave: Tell us a little about yourself.
Eakin: I’ve been in the restaurant business since I was 18. I’ve worked in a wide range of concepts including steakhouses, comedy clubs, pubs, Italian restaurants, night clubs, and obviously wine/beer bars. We like the term VinoPub. I’ve known from day one that this industry was for me, but when I started at Veritas a few years ago I was very inspired to become more knowledgeable about serious beverages. The skills I needed to do my job more effectively all of a sudden became my hobbies, and I loved it.
Brooks and Brad [Anderson, owners of Veritas] were always around to suggest new wines for me to try that I’d never heard of. I took my Introductory Sommelier Exam a couple of years ago. Encouragement to expand and improve the beer list at Veritas led me to the Cicerone.
Crave: What drives a guy proficient in wine to crave beer and why cicerone now?
Eakin: I appreciate all things done well. Be it cocktails, beer, or wine. When winemakers and distributors come into Veritas, they are thrilled to wind down with a cold pint after tasting wine all day. Beer is a serious beverage for food pairing, and deserves the intellectual respect that wine gets.
Quality of beer has been rapidly expanding, whether from new craft breweries or widening availability of imports. The level of knowledge and service has not grown at the same rate. It’s unfair to the producers, and more importantly, the consumers. I feel a good somm should have this stuff in their repertoire.
Crave: Is wine somm on your radar?
Eakin: Definitely. I plan on sitting for the Certified in September. It’s time to hit the books pretty hard. I haven’t tackled any theory in over a year. Eeek!
Crave: How does it feel to be in this small club of cicerones in Dallas, will
you guys meet to confer and debate great beers?
Eakin: Solid dudes. Matt Quenette and the whole Meddelsome Moth crew were very helpful in the preparation for this test. I’ve been meaning to get with Jeff Fryman at Common Table to check out his home brew operation. Those guys really know their stuff. I need to visit them more often to pick their brains. Always more to learn.
Quality of beer has been rapidly expanding, whether from new craft breweries or widening availability of imports.
Crave: What are some good beers you are stocking at Veritas?
Eakin: We’re rolling into disgusting heat, so refreshing is the number one goal with our current stock. I’ve really been digging the Deschutes Twilight Ale, Avery White Rascal, Victory Prima Pils (a longtime favorite), Schneider Edel-Weisse, Flying dog Doggie Style, J.K. Scrumpys Cider, etc. We’ve got right around 40 in currently.
Crave: Where do you go for a good beer?
Eakin: Most often, Vickery Park and Libertine. They are always rotating in new stuff and have solid draft programs. On top of that they’re some of my favorite people to have a drink with. On the rare occasion I stray from my hood, I love the Moth. It’s always a treat. I’m also really excited about the opening of The Bottle Shop on Greenville. Big selection, and they retail!
Crave: Are you planning to climb the levels of cicerone?
Eakin: No plans for that. Certified Somm and Certified Specialist of Spirits are next on my agenda. From there, I feel retaining that knowledge and keeping up with trend changes will keep me plenty busy.
Crave: What’s a good starter craft beer?
Eakin: I’m a fan of keeping it local when possible. Real Ale makes a good range of not over the top, delicious brews. If you see Avery, Victory, Bear Republic, Lagunitas, or Deschutes on the label, try it. I like hops though. It’s all relative.
Crave: What’s the wackiest beer you have tried?
Eakin: Tim Tomlinson, a good friend of mine, recently brought in The Lost Abbey Veritas Ale. It sees many years in different barrels. It reminded me of an old sherry. Adam Avery is doing some crazy barrel aged stuff too. I’m excited to try the beer he is aging in Absinthe barrels.Veritas Wine Room 2323 North Henderson Avenue
Dallas, TX (214) 841-9463