In 1988 LoDo had no ballpark, no valet parking, no farm-to-table restaurants. Just four guys who wanted to make really good beer.
Those four guys were John Hickenlooper, Jerry Williams, Mark Shifler and Russell Scherer. They opened the first craft Brewery in Denver on Skid Row in the century-old J. S. Brown Mercantile Building.
They built a bar by the building’s old vault, and another bar in the back of the building’s expansive showroom. They installed a small brewhouse on the main floor. They placed 22 pool tables on the second floor and called it Wynkoop Billiards.
Beer drinkers across the state braved the sketchy ghost town that was LoDo in the late 80’s for billiards and pints of Russell’s unexpected beer styles. He was one of the first professional brewers in the country to try his hand at mead-making, doppel alt, and cream stout. He was honored by the Brewers Association when he passed with the Russell Scherer Award for Innovation in Brewing, awarded each year at the Craft Brewers Conference to a brewer who knocks down doors.
Almost thirty years later, Wynkoop is a Denver institution, still known for innovative, ballsy brewers who put just about anything in their beer, including Rocky Mountain oysters, gummy bears and green chiles. It’s known as the brewery that brewed a neighborhood because—without exaggeration—the Wynkoop helped catalyze the revitalization of LoDo.
To-date, our neighborhood is the heartbeat of the city, surrounded by iconic landmarks like Coors Field, Larimer Square, and the recently renovated Union Station across Wynkoop Street. We like to think it all began with beer.