In the 1870’s my Great-Grandfather immigrated from Germany to Colorado with his wife. They homesteaded on the north side of Double Header Mountain, now known as North Turkey Creek (Rossman Gulch Rd for those that want to Google it).
He joined forces with Adolf Coors as head brewer, matching his talents from Germany as a brewer.
I recall the tales of getting supplies: two days travel by horse drawn wagon to Denver. Three or four days spent gathering supplies and then the return trip. I heard stories of the Indian’s that roamed the area back then, coming by and spending a week or two, tee-pees and all, twice a year. While it all now sounds very romantic, their daughter, my grandmother, told a different story of little food, harsh winters and walking to the one room school house (which is now the Grange).
On the other side of the Mountain (Highway 73) was another ‘gathering spot’. To hear my Grandmother tell it, the Big Yellow Barn (near Conifer) was the place everyone gathered after harvest to celebrate for three days of eating, dancing, chatting and drinking.
Without the modern marvels of tight sealing bottles and airtight tin cans, beer making was restricted to what we now think of as ‘home brewers’. But Great Granddad could make some of the best moonshine there was. To hear my Grandmother tell it, the logging camp store ‘The Post’ bought everything he could produce and those at the Big Yellow Barn made sure that they keep a supply of the clear liquid as well. According to Grandmother, the dancing did not begin at the Big Yellow Barn until Great Granddad busted open the first barrel.
The stories were romantic, though probably inflated. Yet, we chose to believe. That is until we found the recipe! We made our first batch in January 2008. We had a little work to do, as he used a hollowed out stump over an open fire pit, we use a boiler. He used stream water and melted snow we have an artesian well. We guessed at the heat, we guessed at the sugar – "Add sugar until the knife is slick to the point of watered syrup".
Our first batch of Rocky Mountain Moonshine was to test our equipment. There were no illusions of selling the stuff – in fact, we did not think that the stuff would be any good, not by today’s standards. But, to test the still and learn, Great Granddads recipe seemed just what we needed.
Not wanting to violate the governmental laws and restrictions, we applied for the proper licensing, renamed the product to ‘Rocky Mountain Moonshine’ (we thought it was a better name than ‘Gramps Hooch’). In June, several liquor stores requested the product from us.
In memory of those early settlers, carving out a living in the Evergreen area, we dedicate this product. For us, as kids, it was a romantic story of family history and Evergreen lore. We now know that there is more to the story, as this hooch is petty good stuff! Perhaps those loggers and miners knew more than we give them credit.
For those of you that are less adventuring, we do make a very smooth vodka, Colorado Crystal, that we believe Great Granddad would be proud of.