5 Questions with Darrin Wingard of New Beer A Day

We forgot to interview his doctor
by Karen Locke on May 30, 2014 in Culture

Follow Darrin Wingard on Instagram (@newbeeraday) and you'll see just that in his feed, a new beer every day for the past two years. This month, he hit the mark of drinking over 675 beers, consecutively. We asked Wingard five questions about his never-ending thirst for a daily brew.

Drink Nation: Do you remember the first beer you ever drank?

Darrin Wingard: Well, the very first beer that I remember drinking was when I was not of age and I was with a couple of my friends. I believe it was a Pabst, and remember thinking that beer was the worst thing ever. I struggled to even finish it and thought that this (beer) was never going to play a role in my life.

 

The first craft beer I remember having was a variety pack from Saranac (Matt Brewing). Pretty sure there were 12 different beers in that case, but I haven't seen them do that many different ones since then so not 100% sure that it was indeed 12 different. This would have been the summer entering my junior year of college. A friend that I was staying with bought the case and insisted that I try some real beer, rather than the cheap beer we drank every weekend at college parties. My mind was instantly blown away at the different taste of all the beers. From the kolsch to the stout, this is where I first realized that I really enjoyed beer (especially the darker looking ones). From one to the next, I couldn't believe how unique each one was. There was no looking back at that point, my love for craft beer was in full force ever since then.

 

DN: Being the editor of a drink publication that covers beer, wine and cocktails, people often ask me which bars are my favorite. They often get a blank stare in return. There are so many! How do you respond to someone who wants to know about your favorite beer?

 

DW: This is such a good question. I feel the same way as well, it is tricky to say what beer is my favorite. One reason is that my taste (everybody's taste) are always evolving and changing over time. A few years ago, I couldn’t get enough porters and stouts (especially Russian Imperial Stouts), now I am into IPS (double, triples), sours, and Saisons.

 

Another factor to consider is if you are pairing the beer with food. This will change what you think of the beer as well. For instance, if you were drinking a stout and you pair it with a steak — well that would be a nice combo and would bring out some good features of the beer. But if you would be eating chicken with the stout, then there is a chance the beer might not taste as good compared to having it with a steak. Of course, this is really generalizing this situation, but there is some truth to it.

 

So when asked that question, I can default to my scoring system. Every day I drink a beer I do a very short write up, like cliff notes of what I experienced from the beer. With this review comes a score from 0 to 10 (I use tenths as well eg. 8.6.). So when someone asks what my favorite beer is, I tell them "Well instead of telling you what my favorite beer is I will tell you what beer has received the highest rating since starting #newbeeraday." It’s sort of a way around that question, while still giving an answer.

 

Darrin's top scored beers:

5. Kriek 100% Lambic, Cantillon: 9.2

5. Plead the 5th, Dark Horse: 9.2

3. Perpetual IPA, Troegs: 9.3

3. Gose, Westbrook: 9.3

2. Heady-Topper, Alchemist:  9.4

1. Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS), Founders: 9.5

 

DN: You mentioned to me before that you keep track of all of the beers you drink in Excel, what will you do with all of this data in the future?
 

DW: I actually keep it on three separate forums. Excel, ColorNote app for Android, and Untappd app. This is how I make sure that I am accurate with my data entries. There is no grand plan to do something with all this data.  But the best part of having it is to help me remember what beers I love/like. So three years from now when I am going to a summer cookout at a friend's house and pop into the beer store to pick up beer I can easily go on my phone and see what summer beers I liked and have an informed decision on what beer to buy. Because the enjoyment of beer is a PERSONAL experience, meaning when you look online at beer websites (BeerAdvocate, Ratebeer) and see what beers are highly ranked, you still might not like that beer. So with my personal scoring of each beer I will know for sure if I enjoyed the beer and would consider buying it again.

 

DN: When do you stop documenting your new beer for the day? When you run out of beer?!?

 

DW: This is a tough one, and somewhat scary thought. I don't know when I am going to stop. It started out as a goal to do it for a year. When that year was coming to a close, I felt like I had to continue. It was just too much fun. When I hit the second big milestone (500), there was no doubt in my mind that this was going to keep going past that. My fear is being put into a position where it is not possible to get a beer on a certain day.  

 

For instance, I travel a lot overseas (five to seven times a year). I am afraid of crossing over the international dateline and being in an airport like Narita, Japan and not being able to get a beer before I take a connecting flight into Asia somewhere. I’ve already had to pack a beer in those two ounce traveling containers as a backup if I could find a beer soon enough in that country. Luckily, I have not had to drink that beer in the traveling containers, because it would be skunked by the time I landed in Japan.  

 

My passion to continue is so strong, so I feel that being creative like that will allow me to continue indefinitely, if of course I choose to do so. As long as it continues to be fun (and not feel like a chore) I will keep going!

 

DN: After drinking hundreds of beers, do you just close your eyes and reach for one? How do you decide what’s next?

 

DW: I have a pretty big beer collection in my fridge and in my beer cellar. At any given moment I’ll have about 30 — 40 to choose from. They are all different styles. So it really is based off my mood that day. Sometimes I’m feeling like a really hoppy beer with a pizza, other times I want to relax and sip on a porter, sometimes I like the pull on the tongue of a sour ale. When I shop, I just basically look for what I haven't had yet, and keep my eye out for certain beers that are trending and are highly prized by the beer community.

 

My motto is:  Never met a beer I didn't want to try!

 

Wingard lives in Downingtown PA, just three minutes from Victory Brewing.

 
 

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