Hickenlooper Sells Brewing Interest

Denver Mayor, industry veteran sells interest in brewery

John Hickenlooper, Wynkoop Brewing Company founder and current mayor of Denver, has sold his 40 percent stake of Wynkoop Holdings Inc, (owner of the Wynkoop and several other Denver restaurants) to his business managers and employees, ending a 19-year business career.

Altough officially out of the beer business, John will always be a part of the craft brewing family

“In a funny way, it really does end an incredibly wonderful and rich chapter of my life,” Hickenlooper said. “So many of the lessons I learned that brought me here were learned in the hurly-burly of the Wynkoop Brewing Co.”

The mayor placed his shares in a blind trust when he became mayor, to avoid any possible conflicts of interest.

Lee Driscoll, head of Wynkoop Holdings, explains the Mayor’s move. “It was part of a manager buyout,” Driscoll says, “carried out by senior managers and longterm employees of Wynkoop and our other establishments.”

“This was part of a plan we’ve had for a long time,” Driscoll says. “John recognized that the people in the business need to own the business.”

Wynkoop Brewing opened in 1988. Hickenlooper, an unknown candidate with no political background when he ran for mayor in 2003, touted his experience as a successful restaurateur to persuade voters to elect him. He was re-elected in 2005 after briefly considering a run for governor as a Democrat.


  1. GarySped says

    Wynkoop has a great history and offers great hospitality to the GABF community every year and deserves its success. It is a true Denver landmark.

    However, (and this is placing no blame on John H.), it is time they came to grips with the incredible amount of Diacetyl in their beers. The issue here is that it crept in over the years and now the locals presumably have acquired a liking for it. It will be necessary to start reducing the levels incrementally until they have beers that are true representatives of the styles intended.

    Certain styles should have (contrary to others’ opinions) a tweak of diacetyl but many should not have any perceptible at all.

    I wish both J. Hickenlooper and Wynkoop all the best in the years ahead.

    Gary Spedding.