Among experienced local beer drinkers, Wynkoop Brewing Co. is known for Hickenlooper, history and middle-of-the-road craft beer.

The brewpub opened in 1988 in a then-barren warehouse district in lower downtown Denver, founded by a group of entrepreneurs that included a recently laid-off geologist named John Hickenlooper.

The Wynkoop's biggest seller, Rail Yard Ale, is an amber ale — a gateway style for newcomers to craft beer.

One of head brewer Andy Brown's latest creations is altogether different — an ale aged 16 months in whiskey barrels packing an alcoholic punch almost three times stronger than Rail Yard.

This is not your governor's Wynkoop Brewing Co., and in fact Hickenlooper hasn't been involved since 2007.

The greater experimentation is part of a movement by long-established craft breweries to win over the growing number of more sophisticated beer drinkers and ward off megabreweries moving in on their turf.

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