Pop quiz, Colorado beer geeks: name the man famous for both being Denver’s mayor and for brewing beer. If you answered John Hickenlooper then you are right! Correction: you’re half right because, as of Wednesday, September 19th, current Denver mayor Michael Hancock can also be counted among the exclusive ranks of mayoral beer-makers.
To celebrate the fourth-annual Denver Beer Fest (Oct. 5-12), VISIT DENVER, Colorado Brewers Guild, and Denver Beer Co. invited honorary biermeister Mayor Hancock to help brew a batch of pumpkin ale using gourds grown via Denver Urban Gardens. The beer will be tapped at Denver Beer Co. on Oct. 5th just in time to kick-off the city-wide beer festival.
The cynical among you may be wondering just how much the Mayor actually contributed to the effort and, honestly, he didn’t do much: he milled some malts, he cleaned out a few scoops of spent grains, and he tossed a handful of hops into the boil kettle. So, no, one wouldn’t say Mayor Hancock’s a master brewer but, then again, who expects him to be? I don’t recall mastery-level brewing techniques being a hot-button issue in the last political debate. I suppose when you have a brewpub-opening governor and a homebrewing president it seems like an extensive knowledge of craft beer is prerequisite to holding office but, alas, it isn’t the case.
An important quality all mayors should possess, however, is awareness of local industries; they need to support the businesses that make their city great and unique. The mayor of Pittsburgh ought to support steel mills, the mayor of Kansas City ought to support BBQ pits, and, by God, the mayor of Denver had better support craft beer. Mayor Hancock may not be an expert on the subject (he learned that yeast do not, in fact, impart bitterness) and he may catch a lot of crap for drinking Corona, but if his presence at Denver Beer Co. proves anything it proves he realizes the positive influence breweries have on his fair city.
Despite being a beer greenhorn, the Mayor is nonetheless a fierce defender of his city’s brewing honor, citing an incident early this year when Boston mayor Thomas Menino let loose some drivel disparaging Colorado beer. Menino’s comments didn’t sit well with local beer geeks and it sure as hell didn’t sit well with Mayor Hancock. Admittedly, I believe Mayor Hancock gaffed when, in his initial reaction to Menino’s asinine comments, he emphasized the mostly foreign-owned, Golden-based Coors more so than the small craft breweries located right in his own city, but his participation at Denver Beer Co. does much to erase past errors. And if that isn’t enough to endear him to the craft beer community then riding a grain-milling bicycle while drinking a Hefeweizen and shouting “Take that, Boston!” should do the trick.
It’s events like these that drive home the fact that Denver, and Colorado in general, is America’s craft beer hub, the “Napa Valley of Beer,” the “Munich of the West.” We host Great American Beer Festival, we’re home to countless breweries of all sizes, and now we boast two brewing mayors! By God, I love this town and that’s not just the free beer samples Denver Beer Co. poured for media representatives talking.
There’s just one loose end that needs tying-up: the name. As of yet, the Mayor’s pumpkin ale is an anonymous beer, so go to the VISIT DENVER Facebook page and vote for your favorite name or submit your own. The official name will be revealed at the tapping party on Oct. 5th.