Geek is just another word for enthusiastic… We keep loving stuff and remain unembarrassed by our enthusiasm.
It is the realization that there are so many beers out there, many of them fantastic, that sets us on the path to discover as many as possible. The moment one experiences his or her ale awakening is the genesis of the making of a beer geek.
A role by any other name is still a geek. Advocate. Enthusiast. Aficionado. Beer Geeks aren’t fashioned or formed through genetics or environment―they are self-made.
Electrical engineer by day, beer-reviewing machine at all other times, Jens Ungstrup spends about 20 hours per week beer hunting, drinking, reviewing and networking with brewers. That’s not all he spends. Of the 40 bottles of Mikkeller X Imperial Stout-2007 sold at auction, he dropped the equivalent of US $750 to snatch up three of them, making it one of the 48 Mikkeller beers he has reviewed on RateBeer.com.
Ungstrup started to move beyond Tuborg in 1990. He lives in Frederiksberg, a suburb of København―Copenhagen to the English-speaking world. The Danish capital city has become the Scandinavian gourmet capital over the past couple decades, garnering more Michelin Guide stars than are found in Rome, Madrid or Vienna. So it stands to reason that while in 2000 there were a mere 19 breweries in Denmark―population 5.5 million―craft breweries open at such a rapid clip that there are now over 125.
This might explain why three of the Top 5 users on RateBeer.com are Danes. Ungstrup has, as of press time, reviewed 13,134 beers. To commemorate his 12,500th review this past March, which coincided with his fortieth birthday, the Dutch brewery De Molen concocted a barley wine brewed with oak chips soaked in 40-year-old cognac. And what did you get for your big four-oh?
Down the list, the American “RateBeerian” with the most reviews is Josh Oakes of Miami, FL, who has reviewed an admirable 7,472 beers. A German supplanted his position in the Top 5 alongside―you guessed it―two Danes. He presumable won’t have squat brewed for his next birthday.
In contrast, four of the five most active beer geeks in the original virtual beer community, BeerAdvocate.com, are American. Brad Riley, as his alter beergo BuckeyeNation, leads the charge with 3,755 beers reviewed. One wouldn’t expect the most prolific reviewer to be 40-year-old M.D. married to a woman who hates beer and who lives in Des Moines, IA―unrenowned for its beer culture. But that just proves that beer enthusiasm knows no bounds.