Sunday, March 1, 2009

A visit to the Wynkoop Brewing Company

Wynkoop Brewing CompanyDowntown Denver Colorado has a lot of great attractions and for craft beer lovers there are several hot spots that are worth visiting. One of them is a well known spot located in the heart of LoDo just a short walk from Coors Field. I'm talking about the famous Wynkoop Brewing Company. This brewery was founded back in 1988 by Denver's current mayor John Hickenlooper.

Denver's oldest brewpub was the host of last week's Beer Drinker of the Year National Finals. I've been looking forward to returning to the Wynkoop, especially now that I'm taking notes and video of my favorite beer destinations as a beer blogger. I met some friends down there and had a few beers while attending the BDOTY event.

The Wynkoop had over 13 different brews on tap that day. Their list of brews that day included: Lightrail Ale, Wixa Weiss, Two Guns Pilsner, Railyard Ale, Monkey's First IPA, St. Charles ESB, B3K Schwarzbier, McKenzie's Milk Stout, Silverback Porter, Tripel Sixes, Mile HI.P.A, Patty's Chili Beer and a special BDOTY brew called Venske Weisen.

With so many good choices it was difficult narrowing it down. During the course of the 3 hour event, I chose to sample 3 of their brews. The follow are some brief notes about each one.

St. Charles ESB - I was in the mood for something bitter and an Extra Special Bitter felt like just the thing. The St. Charles poured a nice copper color with a good creamy off white head. The lacing was perfect and coated nearly every available inch of the glass. There was simply a good amount of hops in the nose and was just what I was expecting. The mouthfeel in one word: creamy! It felt good in the mouth. I loved the hoppy taste of this brew. The malts were well balanced with the bitterness. I've had ESB's with a bit more bitterness to it, but for what I was looking for that afternoon, it fit the bill.

Mile HI.P.A - I was destined NOT to have a porter or stout today but instead targeted some brews only hop heads would love. This India Pale Ale was light copper colored with a small white head. There was a huge hop smell up front that I believe was Cascade hops. It was piney and citrusy. It left a distinct dry mouth feel with a lingering bitterness. It was a classic IPA experience. The malts and hops really came out but with an emphasis on the hops. It left a hop coating on my tongue. Very smooth, bitter and served best cold.

Venzke Weisen - I noticed that they had brewed a special beer for the Beer Drinker of the Year event. Last year's winner had the honor of brewing a beer at the Wynkoop and offered up to the attendees of this year's competition. Wenzke Weisen was a dark smoked wheat beer. Quite different than any wheat beer I've tasted. It poured dark and had a distinct wheat beer aroma but with a noticeable smokiness to it. The taste was also bitter and smokey. If you closed your eyes, you wouldn't know it was a dark beer except for the campfire smokey malts. Quite a unique beer experience. I don't know if I'd drink another one of these but I did finish the entire pint.

I toured around the facility a bit. They had a large room downstairs that doubles as a comedy club. Judging by the size of the crowd that attended the BDOTY awards I think the Wynkoop will have to move the 2010 competition downstairs to accommodate all of the fans. Upstairs was a large pool hall with over 22 pool tables and some dart boards. A pool players paradise if you ask me. I didn't get a chance to shoot pool but I can say I am always impressed by the atmosphere there at the Wynkoop.

On the main floor you can peer through the glass windows and look inside their brewing operation. There were several large vessels used for mashing, brewing and clarifying their brews. There was an employee training session going on that day. Nearly a dozen brewery workers were there going over brewing procedures in the brewhouse that day.

Mayor Hickenlooper was also on-hand that day and was attending the festivities. I wished now that I had gone over to introduce myself and compliment him on what a great brewpub he had created.

If you ever get the chance, head over to the Wynkoop Brewing Company. They are located at 1634 18th Street, just about 2-3 blocks southwest of Coors Field in lower downtown Denver. They have a huge food selection too and it all is meant to pair up with all of their beers.

Related articles:
- 2009 Beer Drinker of the Year National Finals.
- Falling Rock Tap House (video).
- Grand Teton Bitch Creek ESB review.
- The Inaugural Denver Rare Beer Tasting at the Wynkoop.

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