Wynkoop Brewing Co.

Wynkoop Logo

1634 18th Street, Denver,
Colorado 80202


(303) 297-2700

First Visited

October 10, 2007

In the late 1980s, Denver’s Lower Downtown district, or LoDo, was a much different place than it is today. “There were literally tumbleweeds blowing down the street,” recalled John Hickenlooper, who gathered a team of investors to open Wynkoop Brewing Company in 1988. Denver’s first craft brewery and Colorado’s first brewpub is now an institution in the Mile High City, and wears its patriarchal crown with dignity and a sense of humor. 

The brewpub resides on the corner of 18th and Wynkoop Streets, across from historic Union Station. Coors Field is two blocks away. Hickenlooper was a laid-off geologist who had visited a brewpub in California and thought the concept might take off in Denver. At the time, the city was in dire financial straits. No one had opened a restaurant in the downtown area in five years. Funds eventually materialized and a location was procured. The Wynkoop Brewing Company opened in the fall of 1988 in the vintage J. S. Brown Mercantile Building, which dates from 1899.

The brewpub was a hit. Not only did the Wynkoop attract scores of curious and thirsty urbanites, it helped trigger a neighborhood revival that has transformed LoDo into a vibrant entertainment district. Hickenlooper went on to become a two-term mayor of Denver, and served as the governor of Colorado—during which time his financial interests in the Wynkoop were divested.

Although the brewpub’s interior is expansive, it manages to maintain a pub-like ambience with lots of wood, thick pillars, and pressed-tin ceilings. The large island-style bar is abuzz during after-work hours. On the second floor is an elegant bar and Denver’s largest pool hall with twenty-two regulation-sized billiards tables. More than any other Denver brewery, the Wynkoop attracts a true cross section of the urban population. On any day you’ll encounter professionals, couples, families, beer geeks, and out-of-town visitors. 

The most attention-grabbing creation to emerge from the Wynkoop brewhouse began as an April Fools’ Day prank. In an online video, the brewery claimed to have released Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout, a beer brewed with bull testicles. When people showed up to try it, and requests for samples arrived from brewers and beer writers nationwide, Wynkoop had only one choice: brew it. 

For the inaugural batch, twenty-five pounds of the locally sourced cowboy delicacy were roasted, hand-sliced, and added to the mash during the brewing process. The beer was released during the 2012 Great American Beer Festival. It was a huge hit, and is now produced regularly. The foreign-style stout is described as 7.5 percent ABV and 3 BPBs, or balls per barrel. 

Wynkoop is Colorado’s First Brewpub, home to tastemakers and rulebreakers, bushwhackers and envelope pushers. For almost three decades we’ve been brewing handcrafted beer in our modest basement brewery underneath Denver’s largest pool hall. Over the years our neighborhood has transformed and Colorado’s craft beer industry has exploded. And Wynkoop is still here, serving cold beer to warm friends.

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