“The Beer Guy”, Dave Gingrich tells us which beers he’s saving for a special occasion
As a teenager, Calgary born and raised Dave Gingrich did what most late teenagers do, “you have a bunch of jobs that you don’t really like. I had them all for about a year, I wasn’t a quitter,” he says. “I was a gas jockey at Domo Gasoline and then I worked at Burger King as a maintenance guy before working in maintenance at the Calgary Jewish Centre.”
A friend there worked at Willow Park Wines and Spirits, and persuaded Gingrich to join him. He rejected the job at first as it was in bottle return and he didn’t want to work there, but eventually they threw him into the beer fridge and said “have at her”, to pick a four-page order. It was mostly beer, and Gingrich filled it in record time. He felt comfortable, even though it was his first time in the beer fridge.
At that time, Gingrich was a Molson Dry man, but he and a couple of buddies would taste beers, one of the first being ‘Skull Splitter’ from the Orkneys. “It was really strong and sweet and I thought, what is this? I said then that this job will be mine one day, I really liked it.”
It took a couple of years, but he got the job at the end of 2003. The best thing was when Willow Park got a warehouse, freeing Gingrich to focus solely on beer. He also brought other drinks into his department too, like mead, soju, sake, and cider. But it was the growth of craft beers that made the really big difference. Gingrich appeared on Radio X929, where he had the freedom to write his own script and, “could just be me talking about someone else’s beer.” He was known as ‘Dave the Beer Guy’, and appeared on the TV show, ‘Divine Life’ too.
So what bottles does Gingrich have tucked away?
“I have a ’09 and ‘10 ‘Old Deuteronomy’ from Edmonton’s Alley Kat Brewery. It’s barley wine – very strong, sweet, robust and hoppy too. As it ages it gets a butterscotch-y almost port-like character. I also have a Hel & Verdoemenis (Hell & Damnation) from Brouwerij de Molen in the Netherlands, the 666th edition,” he adds. “It’s Imperial Stout, so it’s really big, dark and heavy and about 13% alcohol, aged in Cognac barrels. It’s sealed and wax dipped, which will give it a little extra life. The beauty of cellaring beer is that you don’t even know how it will be in fifteen years.”
And when will he open the bottles?
“I’m thinking I might do it when I’m fifty – I have seventeen years to go, the hard part is not touching them though and just forgetting about them. But by then I’ll have so many other insane beers, I’m still pretty young and I have a lot of beer drinking to do!”
Photo by Ingrid Keunzel