Bieraficionado is Raymond van der Laan. Born in The Netherlands in 1968, and into beer for more than 30 years.
Raymond writes about beer (Dutch national newspaper Volkskrant’s Magazine, book Dit is een boek over bier (“This is a book about beer“), supermarket Albert Heijn’s Hop! beerguide, Mitra Magazine, Bier! magazine a.o.), participates in panels and juries (Dutch Beer Challenge, Misset Horeca, Volkskeuken a.o.) and visits breweries and beerfestivals around the world. Raymond operates independently and is not linked to any brewery, wholesale or other professional organisation in beer.
Raymond believes there is a beer for everyone. People claiming not to like beer, never had the right beer. A cliché, maybe. But true, as is the case with many clichés.
The key to enjoying beer is knowledge of beer styles. What good is it to know you had “a nice beer”? What was it? How do you know what to order next time, if you don’t know whether you had a saison, porter, barley wine or pale ale? Learn to know the beer styles, and you learn to know your own taste.
The British beer writer Michael Jackson (1942-2007) is credited for giving meaning to the term “beer style”. In the 1970’s, variety in beers was hard to find. But Jackson went out to look for them, found them and described them in the most eloquent, loving and inviting way. His work, in books and on tv, marked the start of a beer culture revival. One we are still enjoying today. We take our hat in one, and a glass of beer in the other hand to salute the Beer Hunter.
Emancipation of beer
Raymond strives for emancipation of beer. This means we treat and discuss beer in the way like we do for other food, such as wine or cheese. We speak about Chardonnay, Chablis and Champagne. We speak about camembert, manchego and mozzarella. Let’s also do this for beer.
At the same time, by no means should we be limited by this terminology. For example in Italy, currently the most exciting beer country, local ingredients like chestnut, eucalyptus and grape must are happily used in the creation of beer. The only thing that matters is flavor. (The use of grapes even lead to the creation of a totally new beer style: Italian Grape Ale). The Italians are right. Because at the end of the day, there are only two kinds of beer: nice beer and not-so-nice beer.
Raymond ‘s intentions are to support and promote beer variety. To some extent, he is “on a mission”. If this gets too much, please tell him. Freedom of beer choice must prevail. But the world will be a better place of you let in the smells, color and flavours of beer. Believe me.
One more cliché? Here it is. Life is too short to drink bad beer.