John Hickenlooper

The Friday Mash (Vampire Weekend Edition)

One hundred and twenty years ago today, Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula was published. Stoker didn’t invent the vampire, but his version made it a staple of pop culture—as viewers of The Walking Dead will attest.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Denver, where the opening of Coors Field in 1995 helped turn the city’s Lower Downtown neighborhood into a craft beer mecca. One LoDo establishment, Wynkoop Brewing Company, helped propel ex-owner John Hickenlooper into the governor’s mansion.

Country Boy Brewing celebrated Lexington Beer Week by hosting its fourth annual beer cheese competition. The product, made of beer, sharp Cheddar, salt, and garlic, is found throughout Kentucky.

Most tourists visit Florence, Italy, for its many museums and works of art. However, craft beer has joined the list of the city’s tourist attractions—if you know where to look.

The Brewers Association has released its 2017 Beer Style Guidelines. They’re presented in a concise new format that removes redundant language, is easier to read, and is more user-friendly.

Corey Bellemore told how he became the world-record holder for the Beer Mile. It helps that he can hold his liquor; his personal best is 18 beers at one session.

Just in time for summer: Cincinnati’s Rheingeist Brewing Company has team up with United Dairy Farmers to make a beer-flavored ice cream. The beer is Rheingeist Truth IPA.

Finally, Bob’s Place, South Carolina’s oldest continuously operating beer joint, has burned to the ground. Bob’s offered “live music, dancing in the streets, horseshoes, bonfires at night, and tasty food from the road kill grill.”

When Brewpubs Were a Novelty

In the current All About Beer, historian Tom Aciatelli takes us back to 1986, when recently-laid-off geologist John Hickenlooper drove to Berkeley, California, to visit his brother. The two paid a visit to Triple Rock Brewery and Alehouse, and Hickenlooper realized what his next career would be.

Two years later, Hickenlooper and his partners opened Wynkoop Brewing Company in what was then a gritty section of Denver.

A quarter century ago, brewpubs outnumbered microbreweries by a substantial margin (the opposite is true today). Brewpub owners faced serious challenges, including finding the money to get started, overcoming Depression-era liquor laws, and persuading customers to pay more for a product they were not familiar with.

Hickenlooper was a notable success in his industry. He started or invested in 11 brewpubs. Later, he embarked on yet another career, that of a public official. He got elected mayor of Denver, and is now governor of Colorado. When he first took office in 2011, he made sure the craft beer flowed at his inaugural party.

The Friday Mash (Istanbul Not Constantinople Edition)

The Four Lads once asked the musical question, “Why did Constantinople get the works?” Their answer: “It’s nobody’s business but the Turks’” Eighty-four years ago today, the Turks changed the city’s name to Istanbul. They also changed the name of their capital to Ankara.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Cincinnati, where Listerman Brewing Company is hosting Starkbierfest, a family-friendly version of Munich’s Lenten tradition where potent doppelbock takes center stage.

Yards Brewing Company is brewing a special beer for the popular TV show “Walking Dead.” No humans have been eaten in the brewing process, which involves smoking goat brains.

Colorado governor John Hickenlooper has installed craft beer taps at his official residence. The first keg he tapped was Silverback Pale from Wynkoop Brewing Company, which he founded.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Fortune magazine writers tried MillerCoors’s new Fortune beer and gave it a thumbs-up–and not just for its name.

While visiting Belgium, Jay Brooks discovered a new organization, the Belgian Family Brewers. Its members have been brewing for at least 50 years, and have been family-owned all that time.

Purists are up in arms about it, but three Seattle-area homebrewers have developed the PicoBrew Zymatic, a “set-and-forget” system that can be controlled from one’s laptop.

Finally, Florida craft brewers learned that campaign cash trumps free enterprise. The State Senate president admitted that he’s against legalizing half-gallon growlers because a big beer distributor is a major contributor to his party.

The Friday Mash (Aloha Edition)

On this day in 1778, Captain James Cook discovered the Hawaiian Islands. Hawaii is one of only four states that were independent countries before joining the Union. The others are California, Texas, and Vermont, which was a republic between 1777 and 1791.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Denver where, for the third straight year, Governor John Hickenlooper mentioned beer in his State of the State address. Before entering politics, Hickenlooper owned the Wynkoop Brewing Company.

If you’re in the mood to waste some time, check out (yes, that’s a real site) and start with a few memorable beer commercials, including one featuring Budweiser’s talking frogs.

The Standard Reference Measurement assigns a number between 1 (lightest) and 40 (darkest) to describe the color of beer. Jay Brooks has posted an SRM chart and other color-related links on his Brookston Beer Bulletin.

The “Big D”–Drewrys beer–might be returning to Indiana. Chicago entrepreneur Frank Manzo has acquired the Drewrys name and is lining up capital for his brewing venture.

Sprecher Brewing Company, which is famous for its root beer, is test-marketing an alcoholic version called Hard Root Beer. It has bourbon and oak flavors, and weighs in at 5% ABV.

Some experts worry that cheap beer is a health problem, and that U.S. beer prices are about to drop because of consolidation and vertical integration in the brewing industry.

Finally, congratulations are in order to Fred Bueltmann, a managing partner at New Holland Brewing Company in Michigan. His book, Beervangelist’s Guide to the Galaxy, will be published this spring.

The Friday Mash (Halley’s Comet Edition)

On this day in 1656, English astronomer Edmond Halley was born. He’s best known for computing the orbit of the comet that bears his name and–okay, this is a stretch–inspiring the 1955 song “Rock Around the Clock,” which brought rock and roll into the cultural mainstream. Reason enough to have a beer, no?

And now…The Mash!

We begin with the Brewers Association, which rolled out its beer styles for 2011. Two styles have been given new names–say hello to American-Style Brett Ale and American-Style India Black Ale–and several others have new guidelines.

Brooklyn, New York-based Six Point Craft Ales will brew a beer with local wild yeasts wafting around New York Harbor. Some of that beer, which is part of “Mad Scientist” series, will be aged in oak-charred barrels.

Meet Payton Kelly. He’s a “founding father” of Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing Company and, for more 20 years, he’s designed the brewery’s beer labels.

Van Havig, the brewer at Rock Bottom’s Portland (Oregon) location, has been let go after a 16-year stint at that location. Havig suspects that he was shown the door after criticizing Rock Bottom’s new management for moving to standardize the chain’s beer selections.

Even though it was settled by the Vikings, Iceland is not a world leader in beer culture. That, however, might be changing: craft beer is making an appearance in that country.

Sunday’s New York Times magazine had a long–and very interesting–profile of brewer-turned-governor John Hickenlooper.

Finally, craft beer is about to come to Antarctica. New Zealand’s Moa Brewery is sending three varieties of its beer to New Zealand’s Scott Base.

Spotlight on Colorado

Last year was a memorable one for Colorado craft beer. John Hickenlooper was, by acclamation, the state’s Beer Person of the Year. For starters, he’s the state’s governor-elect; and his alma mater, Wynkoop Brewing, has entered into a joint venture–which rather sounds like a merger–with Breckenridge Brewing. That business arrangement topped WestWorld’s list of Colorado beer stories for 2010.

2010: The Year in Review

Another year is about to go into the books. For craft brewing, 2010 turned to be an eventful year indeed. Some highlights:

  • Collaboration beers were all the rage. Sierra Nevada kicked off the year by releasing the first of a four-beer series in which CEO Ken Grossman joined forces with Fritz Maytag, Jack McAuliffe, and Charlie Papazian. By year’s end, Infinium, a joint effort by Boston Beer Company and Weihenstephan, was on the shelves for holiday revelers.
  • Beer Week, which began in Philadelphia two years ago, spread to more than 20 cities, as well as several states. And Oregon has upped the ante, declaring all of July Craft Beer Month.
  • After 45 years at the helm at Anchor Brewing Company, Fritz Maytag sold it to a Bay Area investment company. Maytag is chairman emeritus of the new company.
  • Despite a flat economy, craft beer sales in America showed a substantial increase. Across the ocean, cask ale gained followers, especially among younger and female drinkers.
  • The roster of craft breweries that can their beer continues to grow. There are, by one estimate, more than 100. There is even a festival devoted exclusively to canned craft beer: Burning Can in Reno, Nevada.
  • The year saw the first-ever beer bloggers’ conference, held in Boulder, Colorado. Next year there will be bloggers’ conferences in London and in Portland, Oregon.
  • A couple of beers rose from the dead. Rheingold has been resurrected in the New York City area, while Duquesne returned to western Pennsylvania. And the F.X. Matt Brewery, badly damaged by a fire, enjoyed a phoenix-like revival.
  • The craft brewing industry continued to consolidate. Rochester, New York-based North American Breweries acquired the parent company of the Pyramid and Magic Hat breweries. And three major brewpub chains–Rock Bottom, Gordon Biersch, and Old Chicago have been brought under a single corporate entity called CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, Inc.
  • John Hickenlooper, who went into the brewpub business after being laid off from his job as a geologist, was elected governor of Colorado.
  • Beer labels landed their creators in hot water. Short’s Brewing Company drew charges of racism for putting a picture of a hanged man on the label. Later that year, Lost Abbey offended Wiccans with a label depicting a witch being burned. Ontario nixed the use of Samichlaus because it smacked of marketing beer to children. And Swedish regulators said no to Founders Breakfast Stout, which depicts a baby on the label.
  • Reality TV discovered beer culture. The highlight was Discovery Channel’s new series entitled “Brewmasters,” which starred Dogfish Head Craft Brewery’s founder, Sam Calagione.
  • President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron settled a World Cup bet by exchanging local microbrews. Obama gave Cameron a Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat from his hometown of Chicago, and Cameron reciprocated with Hobgoblin, brewed in his Witney constituency.
  • In the ABV wars, Scotland’s BrewDog, Limited, declared victory with the release of The End of History, 55% ABV beer served inside an animal carcass. They were soon topped by a Dutch brewery called ‘t Koelschip which brought out a 60% ABV beer–which is stronger than bourbon.
  • The dreaded Beer Police made their appearance. Pennsylvania cops raided several Philadelphia-area establishments for serving beer that hadn’t been registered with state officials. Local beer writers were not amused.
  • Finally, an item from the “Can You Believe This?” Department: the folks at SABMiller examined how best to run a brewery in a post-apocalyptic future.
  • Toasting Colorado’s Next Governor

    Last month, Coloradans voted to send John Hickenlooper, the founder of Denver’s Wynkoop Brewing Company, to the governor’s mansion. He’ll be sworn in on January 11, and beer will have a starring role in the festivities. Not only will Wynkoop’s Hickenlooper’s InaugurAle be on the beer list at his inaugural ball, but products of at least 16 other Colorado micros will also be served to party-goers.

    If any state deserves to have an ex-craft beer pioneer as governor, this is it. Colorado ranks third in the country in the number of breweries, and first in breweries per capita.

    The Friday Mash (Neil Young Edition)

    Today is the 65th birthday of Canadian singer/songwriter Neil Young, whose musical career started at Earl Grey Junior High School. Since then, his work has earned him entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (twice) and the Order of Canada, along with an Academy Award nomination. Long may you run, Neil.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin at Wynkoop Brewing Company, whose founder, John Hickenlooper, is Colorado’s governor-elect. The brewery is planning a special brew to honor his inauguration. The brewery is also looking to honor the 2011 Beerdrinker of the Year. has compiled a list of America’s Top 50 Session Beers. The number-one pick is a surprise: Peg’s G.O.O.D. Ich Bin Ein Rainbow Jelly Donut, a Berliner Weisse brewed by Peg’s Cantina in Gulfport, Florida.

    Brian Stechschulte, blogging at, describes his beer pilgrimage to Oregon. En route to Portland, he visited Ashland, Bend, and the Willamette Valley.

    Maryanne and Paul both grew up in New Jersey, and they need to pay a visit ASAP because craft breweries are starting to catch on. There are now 30 in the Garden State.

    Port Brewing/Lost Abbey’s Red Poppy was named Champion Wood Aged Beer at the Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers in Chicago.’s Beer Therapy blog has the complete list of winners.

    Finally, from the “What Will They Think of Next” department, Hoyboy LLC is selling the Shoot a Brew Cooler, which can toss you a cold 12-ounce beer from up to eight feet away.

    John Hickenlooper: The Accidental Brewer

    It’s impossible to separate beer and politics. But if you’re John Hickenlooper, you can make them complement one another. A feature story in the Grand Junction Sentinel explains how a pink slip turned out to be a ticket to craft-brewing fame which, in turn, might land him in the governor’s mansion in a few months.

    In 1986, Hickenlooper was working a geologist on Colorado’s West Slope. However, collapsing energy prices led his employer, Buckhorn Petroleum, to lay off 150 employees.

    Out of a job, Hickenlooper turned to plan B: making beer in Denver. Even there, craft brewing was a small-time undertaking at the time. City zoning laws confined breweries to the Lower Downtown area. At least rent was cheap.

    Hickenlooper’s timing was perfect. A few years after he started brewing, Major League Baseball came to Denver, and his brewpub was right down the street from the ballpark. Soon Wynkoop Brewing Company became one of the nation’s largest brewpubs.

    Starting a brewery entails plenty of interaction with government officials, which gave Hickenlooper another idea: why not run for office? After all, he could bring a business owner’s perspective to public service. He was elected mayor of Denver, and is now the Democratic candidate for governor.

    Time out for trivia: According to Hickenlooper, even though craft breweries provide only about five percent of the nation’s beer, they account for over 50 percent of all the brewery jobs.

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