38. The Wynkoop Brewery, Denver, CO

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The Wynkoop Brewery opened for business in 1988 and became Denver’s first brewpub and craft-brewery. They are pioneers in this brewpub-crazy state (Colorado ranks 4th in craft breweries per capita) and have been getting a lot right since their inception, such as their commitment to the environment and localism.

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Somehow they procured the  J. S. Brown Mercantile Building, built in 1899, and originally home to a mercantile emporium during Denver’s pioneering early days. This building is really quite magnificent and retains a lot of the built-to-last original features such as thick timber pillars and  pressed-tin ceilings. Unfortunately, this expansive former warehouse is a difficult space to renovate as a brewpub and the promise of the exterior is not fulfilled inside.

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The Wynkoop Brewing Company raises the question of “At what size does a ‘craft’ brewery lose its name”? Whilst Wynkoop is far from the Blue Moon and Sierra Nevada scale, their website bangs on about their corporate offerings and their new beer-canning operations. I don’t think they can be thought of as a micro-brewery anymore. Will the quality suffer as their business grows?

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Rocky Mountain oysters are bulls testicles. Just so you know.

Venue: 5/10

The old mercantile building is maintained beautifully and separated cleverly to preserve atmosphere and an affable vibe. The inside is not nearly as remarkable as the exterior though.

Beer: 4/10

A large range for a micro-brewery, which I’m sure I would appreciate if I was local. As a passing guest, I felt that maintaining this breadth was at the expense of individual quality. I was not blown away by their award-winning dark larger (try Flek Thirteen for an excellent example), but they redeemed themselves with the milk stout. The IPA is OK.

Worthy? Just about.

They haven’t got everything right, but they do have that most elusive of qualities: an affable, charming vibe. The staff interact as though they are family.

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