Rick Compton, general manager at Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar, talks adding cicerone to his resume and bulking up his beer list

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In April, Rick Compton, the general manager at Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar on the Plaza, became a Certified Cicerone. Call him an overachiever: Compton already held his Court of Masters Sommelier certification. Recently, the beer list at Jax has undergone some significant changes with Compton’s guidance, and the restaurant has just rolled out a new all-day beer happy hour on Tuesdays (called Twosday Brewsday, but more on that later). Why does the GM at an oyster bar want to know so much about brews? Compton lays out his plans. 

The Pitch: You already have your sommelier certification. What made you want to become a Certified Cicerone as well?

Compton: Growing up in Colorado, I was exposed to great craft beer at a young age — legal requirements not withstanding. [Laughs.] And as I grew up in this industry, and worked at some truly great beer bars, I found that I had a love and desire to learn more about the beer side. I connected with [Master Cicerone] Neil Witte over at Boulevard [Brewing Company], and he was super encouraging and inspiring as far as me getting the cicerone certification. It was always in the back of my mind, but Neil really pushed me into it. He was really motivational and connected to me throughout the process.

You were already pretty knowledgeable about beer, then, before the certification. What does this mean for you and for Jax?

Having the certification doesn’t really change anything, except it adds a little credibility to the list. I’ve found that it also inspires other people on the staff to learn about wine and beer. Since i got the certification, our staff — across the board — has become a lot more interested in and passionate about our beer selection. We were also able to appoint an assistant beer director at the restaurant.

I also feel excited about the opportunity to foster that sort of enthusiasm in our staff. I feel like people get locked into certain styles that they like, but there’s a whole history of beer that goes back there more than two millennium, and there are really countless styles. It’s a whole world. At Jax, since getting my certification, we’ve extended our beer offerings and our bottle program. We’ve got 30 different beer options in the bottle now, in addition to our 12 taps, with some truly unique things. When we opened, had about five options by the bottle.

What are some of the new additions to the list that you’re excited about?

One of the beers that I think gets overlooked is a Duchesse de Bourgogne, a Flanders Red Ale from Belgium. It has a good sour note to it, which plays a lot like wine, and the acidity helps clean your palate. It’s great with oysters. The other beer i’m really excited about, just on a fun level, is the Boulevard Long Strange Tripel. And we just got in the Czar from Avery [Brewing Company in Colorado], a Russian imperial stout that is warming and malty and great for fall.

The expanded list also means more specials and events. On Tuesdays, we’ve started doing Twosday Brewsday, where we do half off all large format beers and two-for-one on all our drafts. And we’ve also got a super-cool beer and wine dinner coming up on October 21 — it’s called Females on Fire and it features five courses, developed by Celina Tio [the Belfry, Collection, Julian] and Jennifer Maloney [Cafe Sebastienne] and our own Chef de Cuisine Theresia Ota, our executive chef Sheila Lucero and our pastry chef Kelly Conwell. We’ll also be offering a wine and a beer pairing with every course. Erica Schulte, a cicerone and the beer director at Westport Ale House, will arrange the beer pairings, and the Rieger’s Kelsey Alt will do the wine. 

The Females on Fire dinner takes place on Wednesday, October 21, and is $125/person. For more information or to make reservations, call Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar at 816-437-7940. 

See also: 
Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar finally made an oyster eater out of me 
Drink This Now: the Ian Fleming at Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar
Jax Fish House adds a fish with many aliases

Categories: Music