Ferry Wijnhoven’s beer life began in typical Dutch fashion, with a Heineken. He could even see the brewery on his daily commutes. But he gradually discovered the new variety of beer in the Netherlands, where there are now almost 1,000 breweries. He also expressed his enthusiasm on social media, until his relatives cut him off as a friend because all they could see on their timeline was beer. That was the reason why Ferry eventually started his own Facebook group, which grew from 20 members to almost 17,000 in no time and is now the largest beer community in the country. In BierTalk, we talk about this fascinating story and the people behind it…
Kommt in unsere Facebook-Gruppe und diskutiert mit: https://www.facebook.com/groups/bierakademie
Link für Apple/iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/de/podcast/biertalk/id1505720750
Link für Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/7FWgPXstFr1zR9Fm2G0UJS
Zusammenfassung auf Deutsch:
Ferry Wijnhoven, ein internationaler Biersommelier und Bierjuror aus Arnhem, Niederlande, begann sein Bierleben typisch niederländisch mit Heineken und gründete später die größte Bier-Community in den Niederlanden, Beer Geeks, mit fast 17.000 Mitgliedern. Seine erste Biererfahrung machte er mit 15 oder 16 Jahren und entdeckte später die Vielfalt der niederländischen Biere. Heute hat die Niederlande fast 1.000 Brauereien. Wijnhoven arbeitet hauptberuflich als Pflanzenbiotechnologe und widmet seine Freizeit der Bierwelt. Er hat eine Familie und versucht, Beruf, Hobby und Familienleben zu vereinbaren.
Die niederländische Bierszene hat sich in den letzten zehn Jahren stark verändert, mit einem Anstieg von etwa 200 auf 941 Brauereien. Wijnhoven sieht die US-amerikanische Bierszene als großen Einfluss für die Niederlande, obwohl diese auch enge Beziehungen zu belgischen und deutschen Brauern hat. In bestimmten Regionen der Niederlande findet man Bierstile, die von den Nachbarländern beeinflusst sind.
Wijnhoven hat die Beer Geeks-Gruppe 2013 gegründet, als seine Verwandten ihn wegen seiner vielen Bierposts auf Facebook nicht mehr verfolgen wollten. Die Gruppe wuchs schnell und ist nun eine Bewegung, die Bierfestivals besucht, Bierverkostungen veranstaltet und jährliche Wohltätigkeitsaktionen durchführt, darunter die Spendenaktion „Beer Geeks Beat ALS“ zur Unterstützung der ALS-Stiftung. Insgesamt wurden über 300.000 Euro für die Stiftung gesammelt.
Wijnhoven hat auch sein eigenes Unternehmen, The Beer Enthusiast, gegründet, wo er Bierverkostungen und Beratungen anbietet. Die Firma ermöglicht ihm, seine Leidenschaft für Bier zu teilen. Er veranstaltet auch „Bottle Share“-Events, bei denen Bierliebhaber zusammenkommen, um seltene und interessante Biere zu teilen und zu genießen.
Markus Raupach: Hello and welcome to another episode of our podcast BierTalk. Today we explore a neighbouring country of Germany, we go to the Netherlands, and visit a dear friend of mine and a great beer enthusiast, Ferry Wijnhoven. So I’m very happy to have you here, Ferry. Maybe you introduce yourself a little bit to our listeners.
Ferry Wijnhoven: Yes. Well, thank you for having me, Markus. Yes well, my name is Ferry Wijnhoven and I’m the founder of one of the largest beer communities in the Netherlands called Beer Geeks. It’s a Facebook group I started about ten years ago and well, I rolled into the beer scene with that group.
Markus Raupach: Yes. And that’s a fantastic story. But maybe first we talk about you and yourself and the topic of beer. So when did you start with beer? And do you remember your first beer maybe?
Ferry Wijnhoven: Oh, remember my first beer. That’s a difficult one. Well, I started drinking beer when I was at the age of 15, 16, I think, or probably 15, just with some friends drinking the local Pils in as large amounts as we could possibly do. So we went to parties and drank a lot of beers. So I grew up in the countryside of the Netherlands, where there were these big tent parties where you could drink lots of lots of local Pils. I grew up to a village next to the Heineken factory. So for me, it was always drinking Heineken. But later on in life, I started discovering more beers than Pils alone. And then that’s where my real beer journey started, I would say.
Markus Raupach: Would you also say that the whole beer scene in the Netherlands changed in this time? So changing from pure Pilsner country to something with a huge diversity?
Ferry Wijnhoven: Yes, for sure. I think like many other countries, so we have the craft beer revolution going on for well, let’s say over a decade now. I think the beer scene in the Netherlands has changed very, very much. When I first started Beer Geeks in 2013 there were not so many breweries around at that time, like maybe 200 or so. The Netherlands now has 941 breweries as of today and they’re all making all kinds of different beers. So of course, Pilsner is still the beer style which is being drunk the most, and is recognized the most by most people. But nowadays, it’s really normal to go into supermarkets and see a whole range of beer styles like IPAs, barley wines, Saisons. Also in cafes and in bars, it’s really normal to see an IPA on draft or really nice Saison. So yes, the beer scene has changed very, very much since the last, or at least the last decade.
Markus Raupach: Yes. And there are people who say that maybe the Dutch beer scene is the one in Europe which is most influenced by the American beer scene. Maybe because there was not really a original Dutch beer culture before. Would you agree with that?
Ferry Wijnhoven: Yes, yes, of course. I’ve also heard this. Yes, I think there’s a sense of truth in there. So we, unlike Belgium or Germany, we kind of lack the typical local beer scene, at least for the last 100 years or so. So yes, when we started looking at other countries and started experimenting, I think the United States was one of the most influential countries for us. And we took a look at that and tried to copy it, tried to learn from it. So yes, it I tend to agree.
Markus Raupach: And is there also a close relationship between Dutch and American brewers or also between Dutch and Belgian, or German or Danish or whatever?
Ferry Wijnhoven: Yes, that I’m not really sure of. So of course, we have a lot of close relations with the Belgium brewers in the brewing scene and the German brewing scene because it’s our neighbouring countries. Americans also I know, have, like a big collaboration between some breweries in Portland and a couple of breweries in Utrecht. And it was like, also like ten years ago, when they exchanged ideas and they exchanged beers and made collaboration brews. So there is something going on there for sure. But probably less than I would say, Belgium and Germany.
Markus Raupach: And would you say the Netherlands is just one beer country? Or are there also regional things in one part of the country and in other ones?
Ferry Wijnhoven: Overall, I would say it’s like one beer country. But if you look closely then you can see some local influences. But it’s mainly also when you look at neighbouring countries, for instance, at the German border of the Netherlands, that region, that area, it’s more common to drink more German beer styles than for instance, the Belgian beer styles. We look at Brabant which is closer to Belgium, it’s quite normal to see a lot of Belgian influences there. Also, the Dutch breweries are in the southern part of the Netherlands brewing more Belgian-style beers and breweries close to the German border are making more German-style beers, like an Altbier or a Kölsch-like. So yes. But overall, I would say we have like one big beer scene with some minor differences between regions.
Markus Raupach: And almost one thousand breweries. So that’s really a huge amount. And a lot of breweries even more than, for example, Belgium, and two-thirds of German. So it’s really a big number. And if you think of yourself when you started into your working career, did you ever think of doing something with beer? Or what do you do for a living?
Ferry Wijnhoven: Yes, well, I haven’t mentioned this yet, but I’m not working in beer. So all my spare time and I mean, all my spare time is going into beer. So I’m doing more with beer than with my day job. My day job is actually I studied plant biotechnology. So I’m a plant biotechnologist and I am working in Wageningen, the city of Wageningen, in a plant biotechnology laboratory. So I would have never guessed a few decades ago that I would be so much into beer and that it would consume so much of my time. But I can now say I like a well-established balance between my day job as a plant biotechnologist and my hobby, my passion, which is beer.
Markus Raupach: And there’s also some family as far as I know, isn’t it?
Ferry Wijnhoven: Yes, with me. Yes. I have a wife and two beautiful children. Yes. And I’m also trying to combine that.
Markus Raupach: Not easy, I think.
Ferry Wijnhoven: No, it’s not easy. No, you should ask my wife. No.
Markus Raupach: I won’t. Okay.
Ferry Wijnhoven: No, it’s not easy. I’m trying to also visit as much like beer festivals and beer tastings as I can as possible because I always want to learn more. So I’m also doing a little bit of beer study on the side. So keeping the balance and keeping all the balls in the air, that’s sometimes a difficult task which is not always working out. But most of the time, it’s doable.
Markus Raupach: Do you also homebrew?
Ferry Wijnhoven: No, no. To be honest, no. I did a couple of times. I don’t own any homebrew equipment. So I’ve done it a couple of times with some friends who do own homebrew equipment, which I think is really nice to do. Also brewed a couple of beers professionally with professional brewers. But you know, you should do what you’re really good at. And to be honest, I’m great at tasting beer, describing beer, giving my passion about beer to others, enthusiasing in other people about beer. Brewing beer is not my cup of tea. You should leave that to the people who are really talented for that.
Markus Raupach: Yes, exactly the same for me. It’s good to do it like that. Yes. And then you started with this Beer Geeks group. So it’s in October 19, 2013. So do you remember that day? And what did you think when you pushed the button and say, okay, now it’s a Facebook group?
Ferry Wijnhoven: Yes, of course, I can still remember it vividly. Actually, is because of my aunts, actually, that this big Facebook group exists. At the time, it was 2013. There was a television show on the Dutch television, but it was actually a Flemish television show. It was called, it was a great show with a couple of old guys in an old van going to the countryside of Belgium, just visiting one brewery after the other. They got tourists and they got a tasting. And that was a really great show to watch. So I was watching that with my wife I think like every Friday evening or so. We were buying beers at the supermarket, Belgian beers and enjoying the show with a couple of beers. And I started finding out more and more about beer which I really liked and loved. And I thought I would just put it on my Facebook timeline. Just I thought everyone would love the journey I was taking, let’s put it like that. So for a couple of weeks, I was just exploring all of the Belgian beers which I could find putting it on my Facebook and really getting more and more into beer. And then I remember I got a phone call from my mother. She was saying, well, son, you’re really into beer right now. And you’re posting so much about beer. And I thought, yes, it’s really nice, right, that I’m taking all of you on a beer journey. I thought people would really want to see that. My mother responded, like, yes, I like that. But your aunt’s don’t really like that anymore because they only see beer on their timeline because of you. And they defriended you.
Markus Raupach: Oh, and they thought you’re an alcoholic now.
Ferry Wijnhoven: So I thought, well, that’s not an option. That’s not the way I want it to be. I just want to take some people along on my beer journey. So then I thought how to remedy this. And then I just thought about like having a closed group, on Facebook you can start a group and you can close it for the others. So I just thought I’d invite some friends, which were also enjoying the show, also enjoying some beer, taking the same journey as me. So I just thought I invite some friends and we could talk about beer in a closed setting, close surrounding. So that’s what I did. I talked to some friends, I can remember it really well. I was at the friend’s birthday party on a Friday evening or so and then was discussing this with them. And they said, well, you should do it. Just start the group. And then the next morning, I started the group, invited those people. But then yes, of course, it was very much fun. We were talking about beer. But in a few weeks already, people started to invite other people as well, which was really nice. But then like the ball started rolling, then I started with about 20 people, I think, and after a few weeks, it was already like 200. And after a few months, it was almost 1000. So this ball started rolling and couldn’t be stopped. And now we’re I think at almost 17,000 members.
Markus Raupach: Yes, I was just looking today. It’s 16,902.
Ferry Wijnhoven: Yes, yes.
Markus Raupach: So we record today, I just have to mention the date for the people, it’s July 16. So very interesting. Maybe when you listen to the podcasts, you’re already close to 20,000. I don’t know.
Ferry Wijnhoven: Yes, yes, yes.
Markus Raupach: That’s really a huge number and it’s also hard to overlook all this. And so it really, it’s now a movement we could say.
Ferry Wijnhoven: Yes, yes, yes, for sure. Yes, it is, it is hard to overlook. So like I said, I started this on my own. And but at a certain point, it was just too much for me to check every post and to like every post and to see if everyone was well behaving, etc. So I asked a few people who were really active in the group to be my administrators. So at this moment, we have four administrators, including myself to oversee everything and see if everything goes well, the way it should in a group of this size. And it’s going really well. And you say movement, I would say yes, it is a movement. So we visit each other, we look each other up at beer festivals, we host beer tastings, we do walks, city walks. So we organize city walks where we walk for a kilometre of 10 to 15, while visiting three or four breweries. We do all kinds of stuff. We have a yearly charity event where we raise money for the ALS Foundation, which we do for the last five years now. So yes, it’s really, it is a movement and I’m really proud to be the founder of that, let’s say.
Markus Raupach: Yes, fantastic. And I think it’s awesome. It must be an overwhelming feeling if you know, it’s now almost 20,000 people more or less following you on this track. And yes, is it mostly Dutch? Or is it also international?
Ferry Wijnhoven: Well, it is international. But I have to be honest, it’s like 80% Dutch, I would say. I can check the statistics. But I don’t have them right now. But I think it’s like 80% Dutch, and then we have like 10% Belgium, and then the other 10% is scattered all over the world. So we have some German people in there, but also people from Norway, also from the United States, Canada, Mexico, but it’s mainly Dutch, and also the language we post in is mainly Dutch. But of course, if every now and then someone posts in English, people will respond in English and that’s also perfectly fine.
Markus Raupach: Yes, and we will put, of course, the link in the show notes so that people can join the group. And of course, it’s a great source of information also, if people want to travel to the Netherlands, for example, and find breweries and find information and guides and whatever. So that’s a fantastic thing. So I’m also a member because of that.
Ferry Wijnhoven: Very good. Yes, we have one great example for this and it’s called the Beer Geeks World Domination. So we created a map, a Google Maps map, where we pinpoint the interesting beer spots in the world. Because we are with well, let’s say 20,000 members, and we travel a lot. And we would like to have the experiences being caught in like a map, where we can see the experiences from the people from the group. So not a paid review or whatever. But really the reviews from people from the Beer Geeks community. So what we now have is the Beer Geeks World Domination map, where you can overlay it onto Google Maps and you can see every interesting beer spot in the world with a short description of someone from the Beer Geeks community, the Beer Geeks Facebook group. This is like one of the examples of what we can do as a group, and what advantage we can have. So there is no paid reviews, you can just check it out and see what other members from this group thought of that spot if they would recommend it or not and why.
Markus Raupach: Yes, and the name is great, the World Domination Map.
Ferry Wijnhoven: Yes, it’s also someone’s invention, it’s great. You can just check it out. It’s a website. So BeerGeeksWorldDomination.nl and then you can overlay it onto your own Google Maps.
Markus Raupach: Perfect. So I also will put that in the show notes. Fantastic. And it was already a question I wrote down because I found this a fantastic topic. So perfect. Yes, and you also mentioned the ALS movement. That’s also something I think it’s very interesting, also very important. And just for the listeners, it’s a disease. It’s called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. And maybe the most famous victim was Stephen Hawking. And we had the, I think the first public awareness was the Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014. So and how did it come that you support this movement?
Ferry Wijnhoven: Well, that’s because was one of our members from the very early days, so end of 2013, he was diagnosed with ALS. So he was like one of the members that was below the 100 when he entered the group. So he was a really early adapter member and he was diagnosed with ALS. He was called Oscar Wagner. He was a great guy, he was a guy with his heart in the right place, but never afraid to put you in your place. Let’s put it like that. So he would really like, in Dutch, we would say, Dutch, meaning he could shout a lot, but his heart is in the right place. Really an active member as well. So he joined us and he already was diagnosed with ALS at that point. And ALS is a very aggressive disease. So you can see very clearly what’s happening to a person because they lose all of their functions except the brain still remains intact. But the body loses its functions. So you could see really actively what was going on with Oscar. And also, of course, we met him a few times at beer festivals, etc. And every time we met him, again, you could see that the disease was progressing and was getting worse. And he of course also knew that. And that made quite an impact to a lot of people in the group because he was a very active member, he was a very loved member. And in 2015, he decided that it was enough. So he was really at the end. So in 2015, he ended it and like I said, that made a huge impact to all of the members of the group. And we got really aware of what the disease ALS is and what it can be and what it looks like.
So when our Facebook group was five years old, so that was in 2018, one of the members just shouted something in the group saying, okay, which brewery is going to brew like a birthday beer for this Facebook group, because we are always reviewing beers from breweries. And you have to be aware that all of the Dutch brewers are also in this Facebook group. So they read everything. So one of the members just said, well, who of the Dutch brewers is going to brew like a birthday beer because we exist for five years now? And it was Ronald from VandeStreek, from VandeStreek Bier in Utrecht, who said, well, I’m willing to do that. I’m up for the challenge. And I would love to brew a beer for this Facebook group. But he just immediately said, if I do that, let’s put a charity event next to it. Let’s sell the beer and from the profits, we donate to a charity. And then the question was which charity? And for us, that was immediately clear. Okay, there is only one charity we could think of at that moment, and that’s because of Oscar Wagner, and that’s the ALS Foundation. So that’s how this whole Beer Geeks Beat ALS because that’s how we call it, Beer Geeks Beat ALS. That’s how this whole movement started because of the five years birthday of our Facebook group. And that year, Ronald from VandeStreek, myself and the one who initiated the idea, Marcel we started this movement and we decided to brew a beer. And the idea was just to brew a beer and have the profits be donated to the ALS Foundation. But then more and more brewers they reacted, responded to this idea, like, can I help or what can I do? So then we decided, okay, let’s brew a beer with as many Dutch breweries as we can find. Let’s make one big collab out of it. And in the end, we brewed a beer called Body and Soul with 57 Dutch breweries, which was really nice establishment and a great day. A bit chaotic brewing beer with 57 breweries all at once.
Markus Raupach: So they were all together in one place.
Ferry Wijnhoven: Yes, yes. We were at, from VandeStreek Bier in Utrecht and all 57 brewers were present were present. Of course, we’re not brewing 57 all in one kettle. So the VandeStreek crew were brewing the beer. But I of course, also helped with adding the hops and someone else helped with malting, and someone else helped with cleaning the kettles. But we were all present and had a great day. We ended with a barbecue and lots of beers, of course. And that in the end became the beer Body and Soul. It was the first beer we brewed for the Beer Geeks Beat ALS movement. And besides that beer, all of the members of the Facebook group also started asking what can we do. So you were brewing beers, but what can we do? And then all of a sudden, there were all of these auctions where people auctioned off their limited or vintage beers from their cellars, just to have the money donated to this ALS Foundation. So that was great to see. That was really heartwarming to see like, what the community can also do besides beer. So we all gathered for this one challenge, of what is one task. And in the end, that first year, we donated 44,000 euros to the ALS Foundation, which was overwhelming and way more than we expected actually. So that’s how this whole ALS stuff started.
Markus Raupach: Yes, and it’s still active till today. So I read in the last four years, you had another 300,000 euros for this case.
Ferry Wijnhoven: Yes.
Markus Raupach: So that’s really a lot of money. And what is the reaction of the ALS society?
Ferry Wijnhoven: Yes, they’re very, very pleased, of course. So like you said, we now did it four times, four years, and we collected a little below 300,000 euros in total. So they are of course, very, very welcoming, and very happy and very pleased with our Beer Geeks Beat ALS movement. And also the people from the ALS Foundation are closely involved and also closely related to our cause. And well we talk to each other a lot about what we as Beer Geeks Beat ALS need and what they can provide. So it’s a close collaboration between the Beer Geeks community and the ALS Foundation at the moment.
Markus Raupach: Yes, another very good example of what the beer community can do also in terms of good stuff for the whole society. And it’s also very impressive for me to see that all these Dutch brewers are also in the group. And so this is really a very important platform for exchange. And also good communication between customers and brewers on a much bigger scale than normal when they have their bubble, this is a huge, bigger thing. So I think that’s very good for the brewers too.
Ferry Wijnhoven: Yes, for sure. So the link between consumer and brewer within this Beer Geeks community is really tight and it’s really close. Because someone could say, well, I have this beer from brewery x from the Netherlands and it contains an infection for instance. It’s off. It’s not the way it should be. Well, usually the brewer like immediately can react to it or gets tagged and then he or she can respond to it. So like troubles like this or problems with the beers or with the distribution, it can be dealt with really fast because of this community. Because we are all there, the distributors are also present in the group and beer stores owners are also in the group and the brewers are in the group. So everyone within the beer scene in the Netherlands is in this Beer Geeks community, they can respond real quick to one another and deal with it if there’s something to be dealt with, or maybe ask some more questions like how was the storage conditions or whatever. So it’s like really fast communication between the consumer and either the shop or the brewer, etc.
Markus Raupach: Yes, it’s really an interesting way of communication. We have a similar group here in Franconia. It’s a bit bigger, it has about 40,000 members and there the problem is always to have or to maintain the respect. So because many of these customers just shout out, this is a bad beer, I don’t drink it. I don’t like it. Bad brewery, whatever. Shame on the brewer. And it’s really not easy to calm that down and to explain also to these just normal beer friends that one bottle is just one little spotlight, and does never refer to the whole brewery production, whatever. So that’s the hardest work, I think to keep it all on a level where you have a good and respectful communication amongst each other.
Ferry Wijnhoven: Yes, that’s the same within my group. It’s, especially when the group is growing taller, having more members, that’s the respect towards a brewer or whatever, that’s difficult to maintain. Because you’ve always people just shouting something which they are not really familiar with. And then to explain, like, okay, maybe this is like a one-time thing, or to have one bottle could be off or for instance well, that’s how the beer is supposed to be. But of course, it doesn’t meet your expectations. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad beer, for instance. That’s difficult to maintain. That’s the hardest part actually of moderating the group.
Markus Raupach: Yes, but still, it’s a great thing. But you also developed further. So we meet regularly in beer competitions all over the world, which is fantastic. We have a lot of fun. And we have a lot of friends international which we share that’s also fantastic. And you also have your own, I don’t know if it’s a company or a project. It’s called the Beer Enthusiast. So what are you doing there? What is the idea? What are you offering? What is the story behind?
Ferry Wijnhoven: Well, nice that you ask. Well, I have my own company. It’s a small company. Like I said, I’m not actively working in beer, but I do have my own beer company. It’s called The Beer Enthusiast. What I do is, so when I became like an international beer sommelier when I graduated, I decided I wanted to do something with it. I’m already hosting beer tastings for the last, I think, eight or nine years. So it was with a friend of mine, he had a small company, small beer company, and we hosted beer tastings. So you could hire us and we would let you taste six beers, including all of the stories on beer, how to brew beer, etc. But my friend, he decided to stop. So he had a lot of stuff going on with his personal life and he said, well, I don’t have time for the beer anymore. So he stopped his company. So it was not my company, he stopped his company. And automatically, I also couldn’t do beer tastings anymore because we couldn’t be hired anymore. So when I graduated as a beer sommelier, I decided, well, I want to pick it up again. I want to do beer tastings. I want to do maybe give some advice to the Heureka or to the hospitality industry, or stuff like that. So I started my own company called The Beer Enthusiast and what I’m doing right now, I’m doing a lot of beer tastings. So I get hired by, for instance, a beer store or a cafe, or a group of friends who just would love to have a great evening, and explore what the beer scene is about. Could be that people are really into beer, and they want to see what else is out there. Could be that people just are getting into beer and then I can really surprise them with some flavours. So that’s what I’m doing with The Beer Enthusiast at this moment. So a lot of beer tastings all over the Netherlands. So I went from last couple of weeks, last three weeks, had six beer tastings. One in Rotterdam, one in Wageningen, Utrecht, in well, a lot of places in the Netherlands and then I just provide people with a great evening and show them what the beer scene can be like and what beer can taste like. I also make some snacks to go along with that to see how does a certain flavour influence your tasting of beer, etc. I talk a lot about beer, the brewing process, beer styles. So that’s mainly my focus right now with The Beer Enthusiast. And it’s just because I really love talking about beer. I have a lot of great passion for beer. I’m excited about beer. I’m really enthusiastic about beer. And I want to take people along. And that’s what I do with my small company.
Markus Raupach: Yes and it’s fantastic. I also love to do that. And what I also experienced when I was in the Netherlands, that you have a fantastic train system. So you can easily go from every place to the other in the whole country. And of course, you have the same problem as in Germany, so you normally should not, and you are not allowed to drive and drink. So how do you do it with your tastings? Do you send the beer there? Or do they already have the beer? Or are you driving there? Or how do you do it?
Ferry Wijnhoven: Depends a little bit which tasting it is. So I also do a lot of tastings for beer stores where we are exploring like what does the store have to offer, then I don’t provide the beer myself. But I together with the owner of the store, we choose six beers from their store, which I think is really great. It’s a great story. But it’s also diverse enough to make a great evening. So then I don’t have to bring the beer. That’s already one advantage. But I almost always drive with my car because I have a lot of stuff to bring. I have my glasses to bring, I have the snacks I need to bring. Usually I have to bring a beamer and a screen. So I’m always driving by car, usually well, like 99% of the time. But of course I’ve always tasted the beer in advance. So I know what the beer tastes like, what are the tasting notes, etc. So during the tasting, I usually also pour a little bit in my glass and I drink along with the people who are having their beer tasting, but I don’t drink as much as they do. They don’t notice or I hope well, my aim is for them to think I’m also joining them. But I’m actually drinking way, way, way less, just a few sips per beer. And I could easily toss it and pour the next one, and just also go ahead with the journey like what do you see about the beer, what can you smell, and then I’m joining them in that part. But I’m not drinking as much as they do. So in the end, I can still in a safe way and a legal way drive my car home. And usually, when I come home, I’m really still a bit high on energy because I’m really enthusiastic and then I’m high in energy. And when I come home, I put my stuff away and sit on the couch and then I take one beer for myself and just sit and relax and enjoy a beer.
Markus Raupach: That’s the professional way and I really appreciate that. And it’s, it really makes so much fun to see how people enjoy that, how they discover new worlds of aromas and the stories behind the beers and the food pairing. And so it’s really great. And I’m a little bit also, yes, thinking back on when I started as a beer sommelier with all these things, and I rarely do it at the moment. But sometimes and that’s always big fun. So great. I’m jealous.
Ferry Wijnhoven: Really, it’s always a pleasure to do it. Once you get the feedback from the people joining, they’re saying we’re having a great evening and we discovered a lot of different flavours. And that’s the most rewarding part for me.
Markus Raupach: Yes, it is. And I found another interesting topic. It’s called Bottle Share Beauty. So what is behind that?
Ferry Wijnhoven: Yes, that’s also a little side project of mine. Bottle Share Beauty. It’s mainly like, it’s a bottle share. I’m doing this already since 2015 or so where I used to trade a lot with some people from the United States. So I would get, for instance, Belgian beers, like Cantillon or whatever. I would trade them for beers from the United States I couldn’t find here. So I was active in that in 2014, 15. Not anymore by the way. But back then, once you have these bottles, these big bottles, you don’t drink it by yourself. They were way too expensive to drink by yourself. Too large. Usually, they’re 75 centilitres with the high ABV. So what I, at one point decided to do was to make a bottle share, to create a bottle share. Meaning I invite all of friends and all people to join me and just take a bottle along. So I’m doing this together with a bar here in Arnhem called Cafe De Beugel. It’s a very great bar, has great beer selection, knowledgeable people behind the bar. I asked them in 2014 or 15 like can I have a bottle share in your cafe? Then I explained what would happen. I say okay, everyone is bringing one bottle with them. We’re opening the bottles. We’re sharing the beers. In that way, a lot of people can drink a lot of different beers which otherwise would be in their cellar for too long. And they first looked at me like, what? People are bringing beer to our bar, opening them and what? Wait, what? But actually, they decided to do it once and see how it goes. And it was great evening. So it’s an open bottle share, meaning everyone can join. There is no ranking or there’s nothing big happening. It’s just people coming together. Everyone who comes brings a bottle of beer they wish to share with other beer enthusiasts, beer geeks. And we just sit at the table. Usually, it’s around 14, 15 people. We just sit at a table. Everyone has their beer on-site and they tell a little bit about why they brought the beer, why they think this beer is great to share, what type of beer it is. And then we open the bottle and we all try it, taste it and have a great time. And then the next person would open their bottle explain a little bit about what is the beer they brought, why did they bring it, what beer is it. Open that one, pour it and then we taste that beer. And in the end, we have a great evening and at the end of the evening, you’ve tasted 10 to 14 different beers. Great beers where you normally could not drink it by yourself. But now you had like 10 to 15 great beers in one evening.
But the most important thing you had a great evening because you’re there with like-minded people, and having a great time, having a great laugh. That’s what I’ve been doing now for well, around 2015 up to now. We did 22 editions already. And all 22 editions were really great. Just great fun. To be honest, I asked one of the contestants lately, like what do you remember about all of these bottle shares? And she came up with great stories, like great stories at that time, we talked with this person. And then I asked her okay, you’re now giving me examples of people you met and the stories of you had the laughs you had, but no real memories about the beers. And then she said, no, it’s true. That’s true. From the past 22 editions, I can really remember the people and the great fun we had and not per se the beer. And that’s actually what I like the most. So it’s about the beer, of course, it’s about beer you want to share with like-minded people. But it’s also about like-minded people coming together and just having a great, great time.
Markus Raupach: Yes, and maybe it shows also that the most important thing is beer brings people together. It starts communication, it’s open, makes new friendships. So that’s really a fantastic idea. Maybe it’s really a good idea and maybe an idea some of our listeners want to maybe copy. But what would be the argument for the Cafe? Because I can understand that the owner says, okay, you bring your own beer, you drink your own beer, and you leave afterwards. So what is their profit of it?
Ferry Wijnhoven: It has actually more profit than you would first of all think of. Because, well, we have this agreement with the bar. Like I said, we did it already 22 times. So we are now used to it. But we made an agreement. A few agreements are those every person joining the bottle share buys two consumptions from the bar. So it could be a beer, but it could also be a Coca-Cola or 7-Up or whatever. But what we see now a lot is that people joining the bottle share, they start earlier, like hour or two earlier, and they come to eat at the bar. So they have their profits from people coming there early, having some bite to eat. But also every person buys two consumptions or maybe it could be some snacks they buy for during the bottle share. So the bar gets some profits from let’s say 10 to 15 people just sitting there all enjoying each other’s bottles, but also enjoying the snacks from the bar or two consumptions from the bar. So that’s one, so they make a profit. But the other one is also the visibility. You have inside your bar you have 10 to 15 beer geeks, which is your target audience. So this bar in Arnhem, they have a great beer selection. And people joining this bottle share they are coming from Rotterdam, they’re coming from Amsterdam, they’re coming from Brabant and next time they’re in Arnhem they know this bar now. They know, oh yes right, Cafe De Beugel has really great beer selection. I was there with a bottle share. Let’s go there for beer. So you have your target audience right there. So that’s really also a great argument. And of course, it’s just also great fun. Also for the bar owners. They tend to like join sometimes taking a sip here and there of which something they were here is up for their interest. So they also have a great time that evening. And we always organize this on a Wednesday evening, meaning it’s a slow evening for the bar. So never on a Friday or Saturday because then the bar is filled with like regular customers. So we always do this on a Wednesday evening when it’s a slow evening for the bar. So they have some profits, they have a great time and they have the right audience right there. But that’s what the bar profit is.
Markus Raupach: Yes. And I think it fills the bar also with a lot of positive energy, I would say.
Ferry Wijnhoven: For sure, for sure.
Markus Raupach: And all these people, they are not only enjoying the evening, they are taking pictures, they are making posts on Facebook and Instagram and all the social media.
Ferry Wijnhoven: It’s good exposure.
Markus Raupach: Yes, that’s a fantastic advertising also for the cafe. So yes, please, listeners, if you want to do that, I really think it’s a great idea. So let us know if you do some things like that. Ferry will be happy to hear.
Ferry Wijnhoven: Yes, exactly. I would really hope it will catch on. It has now catched on in the Netherlands quite well. So Leiden is now every once every two months of bottle sharing in Utrecht. They now are doing bottle shares in Rotterdam. I just saw one. And it’s a great way of having a great evening with like-minded people, drinking beers you would normally not open yourself and just having a great evening.
Markus Raupach: Really fantastic. And that also leads me a little bit to my last question. So first, maybe if people want to discover the Dutch beer scene. So I know it’s hard to recommend, especially beers or specific breweries. But what would be a good way to start if you say people come to, let’s say, Amsterdam or Rotterdam or somewhere and want to have a first look into the Dutch beer culture?
Ferry Wijnhoven: Well, we have great beer cities where you can have a complete day filled with beer and nothing else. Cities like Amsterdam, but also Rotterdam, Haarlem, they have great many, many breweries and many great bars to visit. I would, like I mentioned earlier for sure, check out the Beer Geeks World Domination map if you’re in a city to see which spots are interesting, and why would a Beer Geek recommend this or not. So that’s the first. And just also try to explore not the, how do you say that, the cities which are easily to go to, like Amsterdam, of course. It’s the city that is obvious to visit. But if you’re looking to explore the Dutch beer scene, maybe also take a look at the eastern part of the Netherlands or the northern part, Groningen or Drenthe. They have great breweries and great nature. So that’s also something you can combine. Take a beer bike tour, for instance. Just bike around in Groningen, there are great breweries there. There are great beer spots there. There’s a lot to discover. So my advice is not to focus on things you would assume but also take a look at the not-so-obvious spots in the Netherlands. And I’m happy or me or one of my members are very happy to give you some advice. If you just ask the question, where should I go? Or I’m heading to this city. What are the greatest beer spots? We can give you as much advice as you would like.
Markus Raupach: Or even more.
Ferry Wijnhoven: Or even more, usually more.
Markus Raupach: Yes, fantastic. I also enjoyed Utrecht very much to be there. A fantastic city and I think that’s the most important thing. So just go there, enjoy the cities, enjoy the country, the people, the culture, and of course the beer. So I think there are not many Germans.
Ferry Wijnhoven: Yes, Utrecht is also a very, very great example of a big beer city. You can spend a couple of days only doing beer stuff in Utrecht and not have seen anything touristic in Utrecht. So there’s a lot to explore.
Markus Raupach: Yes, in many ways also, there’s a lot of positive examples in terms of traffic and public transport and all these things. So yes, really, thanks a lot for this insight into the Dutch beer scene and into your work for the Dutch beer scene. And of course, I wish you all the luck for the upcoming events and years and things, and keep on with this ALS project. It’s a fantastic thing. And thanks a lot and thanks a lot for your time.
Ferry Wijnhoven: Yes no problem. Thank you for inviting me. It was great.
BierTalk – der Podcast rund ums Bier. Alle Folgen unter www.biertalk.de