Old Can Be Made New Again, Says Wynkoop’s Bellmyer

This is a part of a continuing series of Q&As with members of the brewing community from across the US. Brewer Magazine will share business and personal insights from Brewmasters, Head Brewers, Brewing Managers, Sales Directors, QCQA Managers and others each weekend to help you get to know each other better in the industry and learn more to better develop your own brand.

Todd Bellmyer, Head Brewer, Wynkoop Brewing — Denver

BREWER: Why did you enter the craft beer industry and what makes you love being a part of it and staying in it?
BELLMYER: I spent the first ten years of my adult life working in manufacturing, building office furniture and then combine harvesters. I didn’t have a lot of passion for such things, but loved craft beer, so when my wife and I moved to the Denver area I gave the industry a shot and got a gig on the bottling line at Great Divide, popping six-pack holders and gluing cases shut. In the decade since, I’ve met some of the most incredible people, whose passion, creativity, and general awesomeness has made it hard to think of working in any other industry.

BREWER: Who is a mentor to you in the industry and what have they done to help you be better in your role today?
BELLMYER: So many people have done so much for me that it’s hard for me to name names without writing an essay. Everywhere I’ve worked, everyone I’ve worked for, and everyone I’ve worked with has done something to teach me about working with beer, handling major problems, or just life in general. However, someone who has been instrumental in my success here is Charles McManus, head brewer at Phantom Canyon Brewing Co. in Colorado Springs, who hired me into the Wynkoop family and then taught me everything about this 130-year-old building. He’s also responsible for teaching me how to make Kurt’s Mile High Malt, the 2023 Great American Beer Fest (GABF) silver medal winner.

BREWER: How has Wynkoop continued to “stay in the game” for 35 years and what have been some key adaptions for its longevity?
BELLMYER: Trying to stay innovative and making the right business decisions have been crucial for the long-term success of the brewery. Keeping a variety of beer styles, from the classics (Amber ales, hefeweizens, lagers) to the newer stuff (Italian Pilsners, hazy IPAs) and then crazy takes on our own stuff (Vegan Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout brewed with chestnuts, Artillery Ale aged on Amburana instead of French Oak), keeping it fresh while also keeping it familiar is the way to go. With the rich history of talented brewers that have been in our brewhouse, there’s a lot of old brands that can be made new again with small variations. We also stopped canning some years back, and I think that has allowed the brewers here to focus more on fun, different beers than just pumping out flagships for cans.

BREWER: What have been some new challenges for the brewery lately and how have they helped push the company forward as the industry has grown?
BELLMYER: We have been very fortunate the past two years in that our biggest challenge has been keeping up. Denver has seen two professional sports championships, with both parades coming by the brewery, plus all the excitement during the playoffs and the finals. It has meant hiring another brewer and pushing our production levels higher to get more out of our system.

BREWER: What are some recent trends, be it in products or techniques, that you’ve tried or are excited about trying?
BELLMYER: We have been playing around with some hop aroma extracts that remove alpha acids to make some pretty potent hazy IPAs.

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