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Craft Brew Pioneer Aims for White House

Craft Brew Pioneer Aims for White House

Wynkoop Brewing Founder and former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (right) pictured at Charlie Papazian’s “Independence” party in Boulder, CO in January.

How about that, a friend of mine is running for President of the United States. Seriously!
Well, a lot of people in the craft brewing world can say that. Two term Governor of Colorado John Hickenlooper threw his hat in the Democratic nominee ring this week.

For the uninitiated, Hick, a geologist laid off from oil companies prospecting in Alberta, was one of the founding partners of Wynkoop Brewing Co., Denver’s first brewpub back in 1988. That was also the year that Denver’s LODO Historic District was founded, – of which Wynkoop was one of the cornerstones of this now thriving re-gentrified area.

Horse drawn day, With Kegs Aboard, Inaugurates the New Governor. Part of a ‘Beer Dream’ collage published in Ale Street News in 2011.

Always energetic and community-concerned, friends suggested he should take a run at Mayor. He did, and won twice. And then he parlayed his pragmatic non-confrontational brand of politics into the Governorship.

Back in the days when everyone knew everyone in craft beer, I remember on one of our earlier visits to Denver’s Great American Beer Festival, joining a group of peeps for dinner including John. Craft brewsters were religiously sticking to beer at all times in those days, but John unabashedly proclaimed, “Let’s drink wine.”

Fun and entrepreneurial, he invented the Running of the Pigs (a lighthearted takeoff on the Running of the Bulls); I’ve heard him brag about homebrewing in his Maine days almost as far back as Charlie Papazian’s early forays; he drove a Mercury Saturn forever; he was the first state Gov. in the country to install a tap system in a State Capitol.

He has remained a friend of craft beer (he divested himself of his Wynkoop holdings when he first launched into politics) and always shows up, however briefly, at the GABF. I last saw him at Charlie Papazian’s “Independence” party in Boulder in January of this year. He sounded pretty sure he was going to run at the time.

So, now he’s just one of how many Democratic candidates who have declared a run for the next presidency? But, seems to me we sure could use a non-divisive politician in DC right about now…or in 2021. And I’ve already said this, maybe tongue in cheek, but I think Charlie Papazian would be a great running mate, now that he’s stepped back from the Brewers Association. They would certainly carry the beer vote.

– Tony Forder