Gov. Hickenlooper loves beer, business and Obama



Gov. John Hickenlooper speaking at a media lunch at the Grand Hyatt Denver prior to the Great American Beer Festival
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Gov. John Hickenlooper speaking at a media lunch at the Grand Hyatt Denver prior to the Great American Beer Festival.

Fresh off being rated a "C" by the Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based libertarian organization, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper stopped by a lunch full of media members last Friday. The event was one that all people of all political persuasions could love: to cover the Great American Beer Festival, which concluded the next day.

In a quick, eight-minute speech (see below for the full audio) Hickenlooper touches on the power of craft beer to put the U.S. on the map, but begins his remarks with a little candor: "What can I say? You guys are my peeps," he says to laughter. "In every sense, when we’re trying to make decisions about how me make decisions around government, the artisan nature of craft beering, right — the combination of inspiration and hard work, right, just being willing to do the work — is exactly what, too often, we don’t get in government."

The governor talked about beginning home-brewing in 1971, then opening Colorado's first brewpub, Wynkoop Brewing Co., in 1988 and Phantom Canyon Brewing Co. in 1993, among others. (He's since relinquished any ownership stake in the businesses.) The industry now provides 4,400 jobs in the state, and it's growing.

“That’s what this country needs, right? Everybody’s fighting over jobs — we need more artisan, craft-based industries like craft beer," Hickenlooper says. "And people taking the time to really put care and attention into individual batches and creations, and then people saying, ‘Well, this is worth an extra 50 cents, or an extra 75 cents.’"

GABF, now in its 31st year, is certainly doing its part, with organizers estimating that it brings around $7 million to the city of Denver.

"But it also becomes a kind of a beacon to the rest of the world," the governor says. "And people forget this, but when foreigners come to the United States and they purchase craft beer, that’s no different than an export, right? That’s bringing money into our country."

Mentioning that he had just met with the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, about Colorado's status as the "Ground Zero for the new universe of beer making," the governor said he expected the liquid to be a big part of the United States' marketing efforts overseas.

Of course, it being the season, Hickenlooper couldn't resist a relevant comment or two. Grinning, he made his place in the race clear: "I’m considered somewhat of a bad Democrat, but I love President Obama, just for the record."

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