Beer Man

It's been A Wonderful Life for the Wynkoop Brewing Company

In the Christmastime classic, It's a Wonderful Life, Jimmy Stewart, as George Bailey, gets a taste of what the world would be like if he had never been born. It's not a pretty picture, and it reminds Bailey, and the audience, of the joy he created. The Wynkoop Brewing Company, founded in 1988, has certainly brought Denver a lot of joy as well over the decades as the one of the first businesses in what would become LoDo. But what if the brewery and restaurant, at Wynkoop and 18th streets, had never been born? How would this cowtown be different? How would Denver's culture have changed?

See also: - Photos: Beer and cheer at Wynkoop's Parade of Darks - Does the Wynkoop's Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout have enough balls to win at GABF? - How Wynkoop Brewing almost wasn't the oldest brewpub in Colorado

In the spirit of the season, the Wynkoop considers these questions on its website this week -- and has enlisted the help of a few notable people around town, including newspaper columnist Dick Kreck, historian Tom Noel and Great Divide founder Brian Dunn. You can read their answers in the story It's a Wonderful Beer Life.

But we have a few of our own thoughts on the matter.

For one thing, if out-of-work geologist John Hickenlooper hadn't been the face of the brewery, he wouldn't have become the face of the campaign to save the name Mile High Stadium when the new home of the Broncos was built. And if that hadn't happened, Hick wouldn't have become mayor...or governor...and Cheetos and goldfish wouldn't have become the official snack food of Colorado.

Would Denver have hosted the Democratic National Convention in that case? Would Colorado still have become a swing state? Would B-cycle exist or would it have stayed out of Colorado?

And then then there's the neighborhood. Coors Field would probably still have been built where it was (then, again, it could have gone to Aurora), but without the Wynkoop's good-time vibe and unusual (for the time) beers, would the center of LoDo developed further east? Further south? Would the 16th Street Mall have been extended and would Union Station become the hub that is is destined to become over the next decade?

But one thing is for sure, the city's beer culture would have developed more slowly and with less spice (as in no Patty's Green Chile Beer), and that might have left us all with lives less rich -- kind of like mean old Mr. Potter.

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes