Rick Kempen

Noord Holland, Netherlands

How did you get into the beer industry? Why does beer matter to you?

For well over thirty years, my life has been all about beer. Flunking out of university because of my side job as a waiter in De Pilsener Club turned out to be one of the best things to happen to me. In 1998, I joined Bier&cO, one of Europe’s leading beer import and distribution companies, dedicated to bringing craft beer from all over the globe to the people. Having held various positions within Bier&cO, I eventually shaped its export department by representing a handful of American craft breweries. Together with a handful of others we pioneered the European market which helped start a European ‘beer revolution.’ Today, I am beer ambassador at Bier&cO, traveling around the globe, promoting and educating about a portfolio of special, exciting, and one-of-a-kind craft beers. I am a certified beer sommelier (Doemens Diplom-Biersommelier) and co-founded Dutch Beer Week as well as the Dutch Beer Challenge, a competition for Dutch beers. I like to see myself as a professional beer connoisseur who has had the pleasure of making a hobby out of his work. Beer, consequently, means everything to me!

Why do you judge at the World Beer Cup? What does judging at the World Beer Cup mean to you?

Judging at World Beer Cup means you get to learn from fellow judges from all over the world, all bringing their specific expertise. Talking with your peers is a rare opportunity to better yourself in beer. Also, it gives you the opportunity to taste beers from breweries who take their business and craftmanship seriously. They dare to have their beers evaluated by professionals, using their feedback to improve their creations. Contributing to that, and doing that by tasting some of the best beers in the world without knowing what they are, is a huge honor, privilege, and pleasure.

What else would you like the world to know?

Participating as a brewery, you not only compete for awards, but you get valuable feedback from a professional and skilled group of tasters. Do it!