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| Booze |

Wynkoop Brewing Company skips Restaurant Week, but has its hands (and glasses) full

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Although Denver Restaurant Week has signed up 295 participants, the Wynkoop group of restaurants -- which includes Cherry Cricket, Gaetano's and Wazee Supper Club -- are all sitting this round out. As Marty Jones, spokesman for the flagship Wynkoop Brewing Co., points out, the $52.80-for-two deal that's the hallmark of DRW is pretty much the price of a standard price for a meal (and drinks!) for two at one of the Wynkoop's restaurants -- or even on the high side.

Besides, the Wynkoop is already pretty busy these days. Esquire names Denver one of the country's seven best beer cities in its current issue, and gives a particular shout-out to "Wynkoop's house-brewed Patty's Chile Beer, a light German-style beer made with Anaheim chiles and smoked Ancho peppers" (which happens to be named after the editor of Westword, which once officed across from the Wynkoop).

And the Wynkoop has its own big celebration this week: the fifteenth annual Beerdrinker of the Year contest on Saturday, February 26, with judging starting at 2 p.m. and the winner crowned around 4 p.m. in the Mercantile Room of the brewpub.But the fun actually gets under way the day before, with a special beer dinner hosted by the three 2011 finalists and 2010 champ Bill Howell that's open to the public for the first time. "We figure that we feed these guys and their families, so we might as well let others join us," says Jones. "It's a great night and a good deal."

Reservations are $40, not including tax and tip -- but including a lot of beer from Ska, Avery Brewing, Great Divide and the Wynkoop. Here's the menu:

Beerdrinker of the Year Dinner Salad: Scottish bangers, malted vinegar slaw and apples, served with Ska ESB

Soup: Lamb stew in a sourdough read bowl with Wynkoop's Beerdrinker of the Year Scottish Strong Ale

Entree: Grilled tri-tip steak, twice-baked potato, roasted garlic and thyme butter and succotash served with Avery Dugana Imperial IPA

Dessert: Flourless chocolate habanero cake and creme anglaise served with Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti and Wynkoop's The Coupler -- an imperial barrel-aged milk stout.

Dinner, which starts at 7 p.m., includes an apperance by the Beertles; to make a reservation, call 303-297-9999.

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