John Hickenlooper’s brewpub: 5 things to know about the Colorado brewery

At the Democratic debates on Tuesday night, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper used his opening statement to tout his small business experience.

“I was out of work for two whole years until I started what became the largest brewpub in America,” the 67-year-old 2020 candidate said, in part, during his opening statement.

“And I learned the small business lessons of how to provide service and teamwork and became a top mayor, and as governor of Colorado created the No. 1 economy in the country,” he added.

The brewpub -- a brewery with a bar on-site -- that Hickenlooper was talking about is called Wynkoop, which he helped found along with three other men.

Though it is no longer the largest brewpub in the U.S., it was the largest brewpub for several years in the 1990s, a spokesperson from the Brewers Association told FOX Business in an email.

Here are five things to know about Hickenlooper and his Colorado-based brewpub.

Hickenlooper was a geologist first

The now-presidential candidate was originally a geologist for an oil and gas company in Colorado after he graduated college, Business Insider reported. However, he was let go from his job in the 1980s after the commodities market crashed, according to the outlet.

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper used his opening statement during Tuesday's Democratic debate to tout his small business experience. He helped found Colorado's first microbrewery, Wynkoop Brewing Company. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Hickenlooper then decided to open a brewery in Colorado, the outlet reported.

He was rejected numerous times for loans

According to Business Insider, Hickenlooper learned how to write a business plan by reading and researching at the public library. And even with all that research, he was still rejected by 32 creditors for loans, the outlet reported.

Wynkoop was the first craft brewery in Denver

Hickenlooper, along with Jerry Williams, Mark Schiffler and Russell Schehrer, eventually opened the craft brewery in 1988, according to its website.

The Wynkoop Brewing Company was the first brewpub to open in Denver after prohibition had ended in the state in 1933, according to Denver Microbrew Tour.

The website also says the brewery is now one of the largest microbreweries in the U.S.

The success of Wynkoop helped Hickenlooper’s political career

Because his business venture went so well with Wynkoop, Hickenlooper was able to make a successful bid as mayor of Denver in 2003. He stayed in that position until 2011.

Hickenlooper went on to run for governor of the state, which he won in 2011. He served as governor until earlier this year when Jared Polis took the position.

He launched his bid for the White House back in March, Fox News reported at the time.

Another Wynkoop founder has a craft brewing award named after him

Wynkoop co-founder, Russell Schehrer, passed away in 1996, according to Westword.

After his death, the Brewers Association honored him with the Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation in Brewing.


“The Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation in Craft Brewing was established in memory of the late Russell Schehrer, a founding partner and the original brewmaster of the Wynkoop Brewery in Denver, Colo. Russell was one of the pioneers in the craft brewing industry and one of the industry’s earliest innovators,” the award page says.