"Beer in Colorado" is dedicated to that divine elixir born of the marriage of water, malt, hops, and yeast as interpreted
by those living in Colorado. Follow the author as he visits every brewery in the state, creates experimental homebrews,
attends beer festivals, tries interesting beers from around the world, and spreads the good word of beer. Prost!

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Other Brewing Mayor

Colorado is a “purple state;” it is neither gun-totin’, truck-drivin’, tobacco-spittin’, no-schoolin’ conservative red nor is it lazy, good-for-nothing, bleeding-heart hippie, liberal blue.  Colorado is red and blue and every hue in between.  Political views are mixed; we could go either way in any election which is why Romney and Obama fight for our votes like Burt Reynolds and Tom Selleck over the last tin of moustache wax.  Most Coloradoans live within a stone’s throw of both a Democrat and a Republican but, luckily, we have a bipartisan factor that unites both sides: beer.

It’s no secret that Colorado is home to a beer-craving population and an exponentially growing number of breweries so why shouldn’t it be that our government doesn’t reflect that love of suds?  When talking about beer and Colorado politicians one would be remiss not to mention current governor and former Denver mayor John Hickenlooper who opened the state’s first brewpub.  But that’s the obvious answer.  What about current Denver mayor Michael B. Hancock

One couldn’t call Mayor Hancock a master brewer.  Before Wednesday, September 19th, he’d never been within five feet of a hop plant, he thought yeast imparted bitterness, and the craftiest beer he’d ever had was Corona.  Every beer geek has to start somewhere, though, and Mayor Hancock started the right way.

The Mayor arrives at Denver Beer Co.
Every beer geek knows the Denver-hosted Great American Beer Festival but few realize beer flows beyond the convention center; the whole city celebrates craft beer culture during Denver Beer Fest (Oct. 5th – Oct. 13th).  To commemorate the city-wide festival’s fourth year, its governing body VISIT DENVER collaborated with Denver Beer Co. and the Colorado Brewers Guild and invited Mayor Hancock to lose his brewing v-card.  With pumpkins supplied by Denver Urban Gardens and with expert guidance provided by Denver Beer Co.’s Charlie Berger and Patrick Crawford, the Mayor rolled up his sleeves, milled some malts, shoveled some spent grains, tossed a few hops into the boil, and brewed his inaugural beer on the Denver Beer Co. system.

Left to right: Charlie Berger, Mayor Hancock, & Patrick Crawford
The cynical among you may wonder just how much real effort Mayor Hancock put into the process and, quite honestly, he didn’t do a whole lot; he arrived wearing slacks, a crispy, starched shirt, and high-polish dress shoes—not exactly appropriate brewing attire.  It was a photo-op session through-and-through but, knowing that, it leaves just one question: who cares?

The Mayor is introduced to hops
It doesn’t matter that Mayor Hancock is a brew newbie, it only matters that he recognizes craft beer’s positive influence on Denver.  I wouldn’t expect the mayor of Pittsburgh to be a steel mill veteran and I wouldn’t expect the mayor of Detroit to assemble sedans in his spare time but I do expect them to support the industries that define their respective cities and that is exactly what Mayor Hancock was doing at Denver Beer Co.  Denver is the place to be for craft beer and the Mayor would be foolish not to give breweries their due props.

The Mayor cleans out spent grains
And due props he did give by touting the importance of small businesses and explaining the role beer has in shaping our city’s culture and image.  Mayor Hancock may not know his lagers from his ales but he knows a social movement when he sees it.  What better way to endear himself to local beer geeks than by talking smack about Colorado beer’s biggest nemesis: Boston’s mayor Thomas Menino, who, early this year, opened his big, fat mouth and let loose some hogwash disparaging Colorado beer.  Mayor Hancock gaffed in his initial response to Menino’s asininity by mentioning the wide-swath the mostly foreign-owned, Golden-based corporate giant Coors cuts in the beer market when he could have made a stronger argument emphasizing the numerous independently-owned craft breweries located right in his own city.  Nonetheless, one thinks that riding a grain-milling bicycle while simultaneously drinking a Hefewezien and shouting “Take that, Boston!” does much to smooth-over past flubs. 

It's good to be the Mayor
After pressing a few palms and cheesing for the cameras, Mayor Hancock left to attend to his mayoral duties.  The employees of Denver Beer Co. brought out trays of free beer samples for the media which, surprisingly, remained largely untouched.  The reason, I think, is because I’m used to covering beer stories and being surrounded by other beer blogger.  When you throw the Mayor into the mix, the story’s appeal spreads beyond the beer world and into general, public interest thus attracting real journalists.  Real journalists don’t necessarily jump on free beer like a beer blogger.  This would also explain why, when the Mayor exposed his brewing ineptitude, I was the only one chuckling to himself like a parent watching his toddler struggle with a simple task; hardly any of the media knew more about beer than the Mayor thus they didn’t understand the unintentional silliness of some of his comments.

Free media beer!
If this event proved anything it proves that Denver remains a solid craft beer mecca.  Two brewing mayors?  Not many cities can claim that.  Not to mention our hosting the Great American Beer Festival and our countless small, neighborhood breweries.  Raise your pints, Denver, and toast to your beer dominance. 

Want to get a taste of the Mayor’s beer?  It will be tapped at Denver Beer Co. on October 5th in time to kick-off Denver Beer Fest.  As of now, the beer is anonymous; go to the VISIT DENVER Facebook page and vote for your favorite name or submit your own.  The Mayor will announce the official name at the tapping party.



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