We here at Empty Growler are big fans of all things craft beer and technology, so it’s no secret we are heavy Untappd users. Today, we continue a new interview series with Untappd Super Users. What is a Super User you ask? Well, Super Users are volunteers that are passionate about beer and Untappd. They help out on the back end of things and do their best to make the experience better for Untappd users. We decided it would be fun to shine the spotlight on some of these regular beer guys. Today, it’s a trip across the pond to Amsterdam to visit with Rick Kempen
Empty Growler: Tell us a bit about yourself, your dayjob etc.
Rick Kempen: I’m a 43-year old traditional beer geek: rushing off to work (beer related) only to rush back and read about, write about and above all taste beer. Hardly notice my wife and daughter. I’ll trade them for a freshly tapped Liberty Ale, for that matter.
Brand Management is my job: paid by Bier&cO, Europe’s largest brewery independant (privately owned) craft beer import-export company. I handle some of Europe’s best brands for the Dutch market: Weihenstephan, BrewDog, Lefebvre, Dupont, Fullers. Also I get to play with some of America’s finest – for all of Europe: Anchor, Anderson Valley, Flying Dog, Left Hand, Alaskan.
What Brand Management is? You get to spend money to go to beer fests (and get your staff to organize them), go to beer tastings and presentations (and get your staff to organize them) and generally fly around the world in search of Beerland’s Next Top Model. Tough job. Love it.
Have been in the beer trade for the best part of my life now – 17 years.
Empty Growler: How did you get into drinking craft beer?
Rick Kempen: I was born and raised on Heineken and must admit that even today a good, cold and fresh pilsener/lager beats most other beers in the world. Having tended the bar of The Pilsener Club and Hoppe (both must-visit bars in Amsterdam) I then joined Bier&cO – kaboom, into beer heaven. There I discovered flavor variety and have been on a mission to try every beer available ever since.
EG: What got you started with Untappd and then become a SU?
Rick: I joined Untappd December ’10, being both a beer- and social media geek. I prefer Untappd over all others because of the easy replay of my drinking history – much better than Rate Beer or any other. Also, the fact users fill the database apeals strongly. Can’t be too bothered about badges (although I will not return them) and love the local trending’ feature. Also, to learn more about the development of USA Craft Beer scene, it’s almost a must-have.
Untappd is full of faults and ommissions though, direct result of the user contribution. I like my facts just as I like my beer: it has to be correct. My years of experience on both sides of the Pond and my big belly can now finally be used for something useful, so I applied for SU.
EG: Tell us a bit about your local beer scene and favorite local breweries.
Rick: Holland has been a lager wasteland, much like the States between 1930 and 1995 – thanks again, Fritz Maytag!
As many EU country’s brewing scenes have been inspired by the States’, now we have 120 odd breweries in Holland as opposed to 11 in 1999. Still in early stages, many are mere copycats and/ or poor brewers but we have some genuine wizards: De Molen, Emelisse, Maallust, Mommeriete and ‘t IJ would be likely candidates to be known by even you guys. My favorites now: Emelisse and Maallust. Smallish portfolio, great quality and touching on revolutionary brewing.
EG: You are standing in front of a wall of every beer you can imagine, but can only choose 4 for a mix and match, what do you go with?
Rick: Obviously Orval – whoever turns Orval down ought to be send to Siberia, I believe.
Weihenstephan Vitus – not because of the Best Beer Badge, but because it is a devil in disguise beer.
Anchor Liberty Ale – I once had it straight from the lagertank and have cried like a baby for the better part of the remaining day.
#4 has to be the ‘Unknown’ beer. One day I will find it and let you know at once.
EG: What are a few beers you have yet to try that you are on the hunt for?
Rick: Pliney the Younger. I had a heated debate with The Elder, and am now ready to take it on.
Bell’s Hopslam – being a part-time hop-head I need this. Apparently two cases are currently being smuggled across the border with my name on it. Can’t wait. See my drinking timeline.
Weihenstephan Pale Ale. Testing new boundaries, the Oldest Guys in the World are going berserk every once in a while and some more months down the road, we’ll have this.
Narke Kaggen! Storsmakts 2005. I have had all others but this one misses on the list. I am afraid it is a senseless quest though. I am, besides many more, craving to try a Japanese Craft beer. I am a patient man.
Check out Rick on Untappd