After twenty years and many, many, many times twenty beers, memories tend to get a little foggy. Still, I have no problem recalling the day in October 1988 when the Wynkoop Brewing Co. opened its doors. The town was still in the midst of a major depression -- psychic, fiscal, you name it -- and the opening of a brewpub in the old J. S. Brown Mercantile Building in LoDo was the biggest thing to happen in years. Particularly when the partners -- former Westworder Barbara Macfarlane; her then-husband, brewer Russell Scherer; chef Mark Schiffler; Martha and Jerry Williams; and a skinny former geologist with an unlikely name -- invited the media and every other freeloader in town over for a free lunch.
We came, of course, to congratulate our former colleague and meet her new partners -- including a bespectacled John Hickenlooper, who'd gotten the crazy notion to put a brewpub in lower downtown, which had just been named a historic district but was still seven years away from seeing Coors Field open. But there was no time to schmooze -- although we would soon learn that Hickenlooper was a master -- because the joint was out-of-control packed. So packed we never did get our free lunch, but we did get beer.
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Beer wasn't the reason we moved our office across from the Wynkoop the next year, but it didn't hurt.
Now, twenty years later, most of the original partners have left the Wynkoop. Scherer -- who gave me my greatest honor when he created Patty's Chile Beer -- passed away a few years ago; Macfarlane is now an owner of Marczyk's Fine Foods; and Hickenlooper went on to what some would say is a less prestigious gig than brewpub-owner: mayor of Denver.
But you can still taste the memory of what a contribution they made to this town twenty years ago. Just head over to the Wynkoop, grab a stool, and order a beer. Preferably chile. -- Patricia Calhoun
In honor of the Wynkoop's twentieth anniversary, there are a host of events at the brewpub at 1634 18th Street this weekend, including the start and finish of the Denver Gorilla Run. For complete details, go to www.wynkoop.com. And to read more memories of the Wynkoop, click here and here.