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Hundreds of journalists are in town for a Democratic National Convention briefing at the Pepsi Center today, a taste of the thousands who will descend on this city next August.

Last night, the journalists got their own taste of Denver at a reception at the Wynkoop Brewing Company, the town's first, and still largest, brewpub, which a geeky, unemployed geologist with the unlikely name of John Hickenlooper and a handful of slightly more experienced partners opened in the just-designated Lower Downtown Historic District back in the fall of 1988.

On opening day nineteen years ago, the Wynkoop invited media types to lunch in a part of town that few had experienced before. But because there wasn't a lot going on in depressed Denver -- and because the beer was free -- crowds descended on the Wynkoop that day, overwhelming the place. Most people never got to eat, but they didn't care, because the beer kept flowing. And so did the quips from Hickenlooper, who displayed an unexpected flair for dealing with the press. Unexpected, perhaps, even by him.

The Wynkoop was much better prepared for last night's festivities -- and the journalists were much better behaved. They mingled with members of the DNC Host Committee, flipped through the Denver's Favorite Places gift book (which looks suspiciusly like a Little Golden Book), and compared notes on the Coors Field tour given that afternoon.

A glitchy sound system swallowed up whatever one-liners now-Mayor John Hickenlooper uttered, but Representative Diana DeGette did manage to get in a good one. Noting that one of her sisters is a journalist, she promised to keep things short, because she knows better than to keep a journalist from his drink.

But even so, when the reception ended, there was still beer left on the table. -- Patricia Calhoun

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