THE VERMIN BREWING MASCOTS
Rijkus & Devret Ries
It was a cold rainy February morning when a VB team member entered that small apartment in one of the lower districts of Amsterdam (The Netherlands). Two of the rats there would be the future official VB mastcots, but which of the 70 rats packed into tiny cages would they be? The decision was not to be hers. Two small rats had already been pre-selected and sat huddled in a tiny plastic carrying cage, awaiting their fate. Their pedigree papers had already been filled in, except for their names. And so, with that small detail completed, the four-week old Rijkus ("ray kus") von Confluentia, the little black rat with a sprinkling of silver hairs, and his brother Devret Ries von Confluentia, a complex mixture of mink and mocca colors, had a new home.
The family tree:
Monty van Nieuw Hamelen + Sarina van Nieuw Hamelen
Balou van Nieuw Hamelen + Doesjka's Oikos
It didn't take the two young rats very long to settle in and learn all the tasks involved with being a mascot. Within a few months, they had things well under control. Now they could concentrate on gaining weight and attaining the perfect rat shape. In his prime, Rijkus reached a maximum weight of 610 grams, while Devert never passed the 500 gram mark. Another very important task was the sampling of a large variety of beer. Devret tended to be far more discriminating than his larger brother, which very likely played a major role in the weight difference.
When Vermin Brewing finally put its website on-line, the VB mascots became famous around the world in just a few months. Never had a VB mascot accomplished so much in so little time, but Rijkus and Devert knew that they were standing on the shoulders of giants, for without the sturdy foundation originally built by Vladimir and Dmitri, success would not have been so easy.
Then tragedy struck. Devret became seriously ill, and in spite of many visits to the vet and specialists, his condition continued to worsen. He passed away on December 14, 1996, in a special animal hopsital near Utrecht (about a 2 hour drive from his home... and brother). Rijkus was devastated when his brother did not return and remained hidden in his box for many days. But soon he emerged, confident of what he must do, which was continue to be what he had always been... a proud, successful Vermin Brewing mascot.
For the next 7 months, Rijkus held the team together, always putting his best paw forward. He accomplished many tasks, created many new ideas, posed for many useful pictures, but most of all provided very valuable, warm companionship. Still, like his brother before him, Rijkus was also destined for a short life. He started to grow weak and tired in early July 1997. After several bouts with illness and several partial recoveries, Rijkus awoke one day barely able to lift his head. He took his last breaths in the arms of his beloved friend under the watchful eye of a caring vet a few miles from his home.
Rijkus is honored on the Black Death Dark Halloween Special label.