Industry Legend: Eric De Kock

Who doesn't love a good pint? We went out to Amsterdam to judge the Heineken Global Bartender Final, think X Factor but for beer, and met Eric out there. This guy knows good beer so we chatted awesome bars, perfect serves and good head (on a beer, obvs).

WHERE DO YOU WORK?

I’m owner of Eetcafé Walzicht in Woerden the Netherlands. I started working there from 17 years of age and fell in love with the place and the work. By now I know every bolt in the building but it is never a boring place.

Besides my bar I’m owner of Bartendercompetition. We develop, organize and support draught beer competitions. We are very proud to be involved in the Heineken Global Bartender Final and I love to help upgrading draught competitions anywhere.

WHERE DO YOU LIVE?

I live in my place of birth Woerden, a really beautiful city with an impressive Roman history in the green heart of the Netherlands.

WHAT ARE YOU UP TO AT THE MOMENT?

Well we just finished the Heineken Global Bartender Final in Amsterdam and are evaluating it. The Heineken Global Bartender Final is the biggest draught beer championship in the world. For me it’s a dream come through being able to be part of this impressive event celebrating the importance of perfectly poured draught beer. This year  finalists from 16 countries were flown into the Netherlands, home of Heineken to battle for the title Best Heineken Bartender in the World.

WHY ARE YOU SO PASSIONATE ABOUT YOUR WORK WITH HEINEKEN?

When I started working in Eetcafé Walzicht my boss was already passionate for perfect draught beer and took me with him to draught beer competitions in the Netherlands. I love games and competitions and pouring beer. These draught competitions where like Disneyland for me.

And now in my bar, draught competitions still inspires the team like it inspired me. It makes you realize you’re a craftsman. It’s not difficult, but it just needs some attention, know-how and passion. And exactly that’s what makes the Heineken GBF such an amazing event. A worldwide championship celebrating and sharing passion for quality, draught beer and hospitality. I love it.

3 FAVOURITE DUTCH BARS AND WHY:

Eetcafé Walzicht in Woerden

Of course my own bar is one of my favorite bars. Not only because it’s mine but more because it’s the place I can find the things there that I think are important in our line of work. As you can imagine pouring beer is taken very seriously. Besides that it’s home for me and I hope any guest feels the same.

In den Ouden Vogelstruys in Maastricht

It’s also called ‘the livingroom of the Netherlands’ and this place is well known in the Netherlands for serving perfect Brand beer, no matter how busy it is. Their waiters are world class and I’m always amazed by their agility and style. I think I have the world record of sitting on their terrace.

De ballentent in Rotterdam

If you look at it from the outside it’s not really appealing. In fact it’s kind of grubby. But if you take the step of entering the bar you will understand what I mean. In past time the sailors would come here alongside businessmen. There’s a famous Dutch song that says that in a bar everyone is equal; this is the place where you can really feel that. To me a bar doesn’t have to be fancy, plated with gold and serve caviar. I just want to have a good time and share moments with the people around me.

3 FAVOURITE INTERNATIONAL BARS AND WHY:

‘Ouzeria’ in the harbor of Lipsi, Greece

Greece taught me to slow down and take time to enjoy life. This is exactly what happens when you visit the ‘ouzeria’ in the small harbor of Lipsi. Just sitting there with nice company on just too small chairs and a very small table enjoying Ouzo and some fresh made squid made by a big smiling Greek on a small BBQ. Life stands still in this place.

‘Pfefferalm’, Hinterglemm, Austria

I do love to ski towards the Pfefferalm, a kind of hidden wooden shack halfway on the Alps of Hinterglemm. If you enter and hit your head on the low door you will immediately smell the burning wood of the fireplace and ‘Glühwein’; hot red sweetened wine. The owner probably sits right next to you and you will always recognize him. A small man with a beard like Santa Claus playing traditional Austrian tunes on the accordion. Just order the meat and cheese plate, some cold beer and Hazelnut Schnapps.

Anyplace, anywhere

As you can read I don’t care for luxurious places. There’s a saying in Dutch: ‘You cannot eat from a beautiful plate’. It means that appearance is not the most important. I love bars for the people that work there, for the people you meet and the people you’re with. I love to see pride in a bartenders eyes for their job, their products and their bar. They often don’t realize the importance of their presence, mood and flair. I love smiling people, anyplace, anywhere…

FAVOURITE DRINK:

Come on! That’s the easiest question. I love a perfect poured Heineken. Most people don’t realize that there’s more difference between a badly poured and a well poured Heineken than the look of it. The taste of a rinsed and skimmed Heineken is so much better than if it’s not done. I will invite anyone to my bar to taste the difference and that will convince them.

INTRODUCE US TO A GREAT BARTENDER:

That’s a difficult one. I know a lot of great bartenders. I’m also very proud of my team in Walzicht and I don’t want to forget people. I once read a good explanation on what the definition of good hospitality is which I will borrow right now. It’s the ability to make a friend out of a stranger. I like that!

BEST PART OF YOUR JOB?

I’m the lucky guy that meets  a lot of people, of course locally in my bar but since I am working for Heineken I have been given the opportunity to meet  a lot of people in the Netherlands and abroad. Being in touch with people is so much fun. Discovering different cultures, habits, styles, food and ways of life. It’s great to find the confirmation again and again that at the end we are all the same.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?

We just finished this GBF and the same day our team started working on the way we’d like to approach the new season. My personal goal is maybe a bit far reached; whenever I enter a Heineken bar and order my Heineken, I wish it was poured perfect. Being able to taste Heineken anywhere in the world. It will feel like being home.

This will not be done in one day but I’m convinced the GBF can be a major part of it. I want to inspire bartenders and bar owners anywhere like my boss inspired me and I inspired my team.

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE AS A KID?

As a kid I tried to build a spaceship in my bedroom but that never really worked. I always wanted to build things. One thing was sure…I never would end up behind a desk.

IF YOU WERE GOING TO MAKE A BARCHICK DRINK WHAT WOULD YOU CALL IT AND WHAT WOULD YOU PUT IN IT?

Of course the Barchick drink that I will make is the ‘Eric de Kocktail’. It’s has no particular ingredients… I just want to be part of the party!