Able Amateur

JOHN HICKENLOOPER / DENVER

RAY NG FOR TIME

DENVER: Mayor Hickenlooper spins through the city on his Aprilia scooter

When John Hickenlooper ran for mayor of Denver in 2003, the betting in local political circles was that he should keep his day job, brewing beer. A Democratic civic activist, Hickenlooper was best known for owning the Wynkoop Brewing Co., the city's first brewpub, which he had opened in 1988 and built into a successful restaurant business. He had never run for office, not even for student council of his high school or college, Wesleyan, at which he earned degrees in English and geology. He also seemed a bit eccentric. As a bachelor, he offered a $5,000 bounty to anyone who...