When I moved to Calgary with my fiancee in March 2011, I was really hoping that we were moving to a friendly and safe neighbourhood. Based on the crime stats, I knew we were making the right decision and the view of COP and the slight background of the Alberta Rockies couldn’t be more magnificent. We are also steps from Bowmont Natural Environment Park, one of Calgary’s most beautiful natural areas with lots of walking paths, bike paths and great views of the Bow River. All-in-all, it’s a great place to live but there’s one thing that really sets this neighbourhood above and beyond most NW Calgary neighbourhoods, and that’s Silver Springs Liquor Store.
A HISTORY OF SILVER SPRINGS LIQUOR STORE
I’ve been a regular at Silver Springs Liquor Store since I moved to the neighbourhood. I’ve always been impressed by the selection, the competitive pricing and friendly staff. I’ve become good friends with Colin Schulenborg, owner and resident all-round liquor specialist. He was kind enough to give me the background on the store:
“Silver Springs Liquor Store opened its doors for business in March of 1994, a short while after Alberta privatized, making us one of the veteran shops in the industry. I was 9 years old when my folks decided to get into an industry they knew very little about, with almost zero retail experience. What they learned throughout the years is that the more comfortable you are with your stock, the better customer service you can provide. My mom Sheona became a sommelier to bolster her knowledge of wines and spirits, then began hand-selecting wines based on a number of criteria that heavily rely on the quality to price ratio. We now have over 1,150 wines in the shop ranging from First Growth Bordeaux to some seriously easy drinking wine.
I became a partner in the store four years ago and as the son of the owners I wanted to put my mark on the store as well. Wines and spirits definitely have their place in my world, but beer has always been my favourite. My friends would always laugh at my shopping bag full of new and exciting beers. When I was a fresh faced eighteen year old, I’d proceed to pull out La Fin du Monde to sip on while they downed whatever tasteless beverage they had chosen. Here I was with limited space to utilize and an inkling that craft beer was about to boom. Much to the chagrin of my folks I began to fill the shelves previously occupied by mass produced lagers with a cross section of various styles from around the world. My section is now over 300 beers with weekly rotations and an emphasis on Canadian craft. I bring in beers based on the season, or based on availability, still maintaining the focus on value and quality. I have managed to sneak a few very age-able brews into my cellar too, some of which I release around Christmas every year, mainly barleywines and stouts.”
THE CELLAR, WHERE ALL THE GEMS ARE FOUND
Further to Colin’s comment on his cellar, he has been compiling a very impressive list of lambics, barleywines, imperial stouts and other specialty beers he has been able to come across over the years. He’s been working on his cellar for about four to five years now. He’s devoted a couple of shelves to these beers in a cellar that’s truly a world of its own. From $7,000 bottles of Cognac to vintage ports and rare single malt Scotches, the cellar truly is a thing of beauty. Colin’s father Henry built the cellar in 1999, and the Schulenborgs have been filling it up since then. Colin has been stashing away bottles of rare and cellarable beers when he can, and sometimes he makes the products available for purchase as he mentioned earlier.
As the “Cellar Dweller“, naturally I’m intrigued by many of these beers and I wanted to see if Colin was willing to allow a few of us devoted beer lovers to try these gems at some point. Colin agreed and I sent out an email to some of Calgary’s most hardcore beer lovers, all of whom are close personal friends and always willing to try new and (in this case) old beers.
GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT
Stay tuned to my next post when I will provide photos and feedback from our “Cellar Gems Tasting Night“. It was a great night with a lot of really delicious and (mostly) amazing beer.
Until then, keep supporting the scene and go see Colin at Silver Springs Liquor Store. He’s in Monday to Friday from 10:00 am till 6:00 pm, but off Tuesdays. Tell him the “Cellar Dweller” sent you.