Mug Shots: Meet Ben Gager
Take a peek beyond the beer you love to drink with our blog series titled, "Mug Shots." There are a lot of folks here at Boulder Beer who play a huge role in our day to day success. This is our way of introducing you to the team that makes it all happen. It's time for you to meet brewer, Ben Gager! A 'behind the scenes' kind of guy, Ben began his journey in the beer biz back in the summer of 2014. He started out at Boulder Beer Company as a part-time production team member and began working full time 6 months later. Approximately one year after his hire date, he began brewing. Ben enjoys brewing because he gets to work independently and has the ability to constantly create. "Even if it's the same beer you brewed the day before, there's always room to improve," said Ben.
One of eight children, Ben grew up in Arvada, Colorado and was homeschooled with his siblings until 9th grade. Fun fact: all of the Gager kids have names that begin with the letter 'B.' In order from oldest to youngest we've got; Brad, Becky, Brandon, Ben, Barry, Beth, Bonnie, and Bryan. They are all about two years apart, ranging in age from 32 to 17 years old. Currently, all of Ben's siblings live in Colorado with the exception of Barry and Beth, who both live in New Zealand. Ben is very close with his family and they always make sure to spend holidays together. Ben lives in Estes Park with Production Manager, Rob Black and Rob's fiancé', Harmony. Check out Rob's Mug Shot here. Outside of work, Ben enjoys fishing and cooking. In Estes Park, he and Rob like to fish at Mary's Lake or the Big Thompson River. At home, Rob and Ben have been having cook-off's with Harmony as the judge. The loser has to sleep outside. (Literally.) Even in the winter! Ben's winning dish last time was steak with garlic mashed potatoes, sautéed shrimp and asparagus. Yum! Can we join you next time?? Ben's favorite Boulder brew is Cold Hop British-Style Ale and he loves the Pub Burger with avocado and Swiss. His favorite non-Boulder brew is the Alt Beer at Lumpy Ridge Brewing Company in Estes Park, CO.
After high school, Ben spent about 7 months traveling in South America, Australia and Indonesia. Not long after that, Ben enlisted in the National Guard and went on to spend about two months in South Carolina and 6 months in Texas. During this time, Ben received basic and medic training. He is committed to the National Guard for six years and trains with his unit one weekend per month at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs. Additionally, the unit of about 1500 people train two weeks every summer in preparation to qualify for the Expert Infantry Badge. Ben's favorite parts of training are shooting and field exercises. Currently, his unit is working towards becoming qualified as a Mountain Unit, which would be the first of its kind here in Colorado. This means they would be qualified to assist in mountain rescues, ascents, descents, and would be specially trained to survive not only combat with the enemy but also the extreme weather and dangerous terrain.
Before working at Boulder Beer, Ben worked at a coffee house/restaurant in Arvada that employs developmentally disabled adults called Jack's Bar & Grill and Steamer's. Read more about Jack's/Steamer's here. He first worked as a line cook, then drove a shuttle that provided transportation to any employees who needed it. This is where he met Harmony, who worked as a barista at Steamer's. Through Harmony, Ben met Rob who eventually connected him to the job opportunity at Boulder Beer. Ben's advice on getting into the brewing industry; start out in any position you can get and work your way up. "Let your passion and work ethics take you to where you want to be," he said. Ben's story is a great example of this theory. One of Ben's favorite memories from working at Boulder Beer is the 2015 Scavenger Hunt. "I had a great time destroying Greg and Cosmo at Sting Pong!" Ben said. All of the employees were at Press Play, the final location at the end of last year's Hunt. ('Sting Pong' is pretty much exactly what you're thinking right now.) Fellow brewers Greg and Cosmo had the welts to prove it! We asked Ben how he managed to walk away without a single welt, to which he replied, "I contribute it to all of my years of homeschooling."
We asked Ben if there are any challenges that come with the job. "In brewing," said Ben, "nothing is entirely predictable. Any day could potentially bring a new challenge." Because the brewers work different shifts throughout the day, they are working independently and learn to troubleshoot and problem solve when needed. The brewing shifts are: 6am-2pm, 9am-5pm, 1pm-9pm, and 4pm-2am. Ben's favorite shift is 6am-2pm because you can still get outside and enjoy the day after work. At the brewery, Ben is looking forward to experimenting with new beers and improving processes that are already in place. We asked Production Manager, Rob Black, to give us a few words on working with Ben. "Ben surprises me all the time with how much personal depth he has and what he's capable of," said Rob. "He is such a hard worker and goes above and beyond both personally and professionally." A quiet guy on the outside, Ben's silly demeanor will be sure to make you smile. His heart and impressive work ethics seem much bigger than what meets the eye, a perfect example of how the cover of the book doesn't always tell the story. Thanks, Ben, for all you do! We appreciate you!