Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Yorktown, Virginia’s Matt Venzke is Wynkoop’s 2008 Beer Drinker of the Year

By William Brand
Monday, February 25th, 2008 at 7:47 pm in Uncategorized.

Matt Venske Wynkoop Beer Drinker of the Year 2008

Matt Venzke, of Yorktown, VA. , in t-shirt, center, with a beer, naturally, and the judges at Wynkoop Brewing on Saturday.

Here’s the noos er news : Wynkoop Beer Drinker of the Year is Matt Venzke, of , VA. This is a contest that somebody had to event and Wynkoop Brewing, the seminal Denver, Colo. brewpub did a few years ago. Over time. it’s gotten more and more elaborate, drawing entries from around the U.S. with the winner chosen by a panel that includes past year winners and journalists Lisa Morrison, of Portland, OR. and Rocky Mountain News (Denver) beer columnist Jay Dedrick.

Matt beat out two other finalists, J. Mark Angelus, of Nehalem, Ore. and Richard Pedretti-Allen, of McKinney, Tex., answer a bunch of occasionally serious, beer-related questions from the judges.

Matt Venzke with beerBut his beer-drinking resume’ won the day. Consider: Venzke has visited 454 breweries in 69 nations and 39 states. Over the past five years, he has recorded tasting notes on over 3200 different beers in 69 different styles.

He logged 3,000 miles in 2007 while traveling to breweries across North America. While stationed in alcohol-free Kuwait on a military deployment a few years ago, Venzke conducted a tasting of 17 non-alcohol beers.

His will, Venzke said, includes instructions for him to be cremated and his ashes used in a beer brewed for his wake. (“I’ve instructed my wife,” Venzke stated, “to tell people at the ceremony, ‘Matt is more a part of you than you think.’”)

The prize, besides a trophy: Free beer for life at Wynkoop in Denver and a $250 tab at his local, the Taphouse on Queensway in Hampton, VA.

Wynkoop was founded in 1988 by John Hickenlooper. It was a cornerstone of the redevelopment of an area once occupied by railroad yards and the homeless. Now it boosts many brewpubs, Coors Field, with it’s own Sandlot Brewpub, condos, coffee shops, and other hallmarks of the American urban revival. Hickenlooper’s now Mayor of Denver.

I love Wynkoop Brewing and make it my local pub each year during the Great American Beer Festival. If you do visit Denver, don’t miss it, and check out Coors Field and the Sandlot too.

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