Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Brews and beaver at the Wynkoop Brewing Co.

In honor of the Wynkoop Brewing Co.'s twentieth anniversary, we're asking readers to send their memories of the brewpub -- with the author of the best account getting free beer! As a former Westword employee, John Kessler is not eligible for that prize -- but his story is definitely a winner. Leave your own memories here.

When I was the dining critic at Westword in the early 1990s, we used to hand out a wide range of Best of Denver awards to restaurants with categories like those Harry Potter jellybeans — some sweet, some sour, some borderline repulsive. And so, after one beer-fueled editorial meeting, we decided to bequeath the Wynkoop Brewing Co. with the not-exactly-coveted prize for "Best Place for Beaver Watching," in honor of the bar counter that faced the front plate-glass windows when the brewpub first opened. More than a few unsuspecting women in skirts sat at this counter and, well, you get the idea.

After that Best of Denver issue came out, restaurateur Pierre Wolfe invited me and editor Patricia Calhoun to appear on his local radio show to discuss our picks. Wouldn't you know, he breezed over the infinitely discussable categories — best Italian, best green chile — and chirpily brought up the beavers.

"I'm so surprised by that award," said Pierre. "I've never seen any beaver downtown."

I offered condolences.

"I'd think you'd have a much better time looking for beavers in the mountains. Say, at the Fort," Pierre persisted. "Do they really come out in the streets?"

"It's a different kind of beaver in the city," Patty shot back, deadpan."Much friendlier."

Oh, God. I looked at the floor, at my fingernails, at the microphone. Anywhere but at Patty. From that point on, I couldn't answer a question without a whooping giggle emerging like some weird manifestation of demonic possession. "The best pizza is...WOO...HEEE!!"

Patty took over the interview, and I sat there, rocking in my chair and putting beavers out of my mind.-- John Kessler

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun