Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Old Naperville Gossip about Colorado Beer Baron

If you were a Chicagoan of drinking age in 1980,  you remember how chic it was to drink Coors before it was legally distributed east of the Mississippi.

If you are a Naperville history buff, you’ve heard that Adolph Coors worked in one of our own breweries before he went to Colorado.

But perhaps you haven’t heard the whole story — and maybe none of us ever will.

The Coors brewery in Golden, Colorado takes visitors on a tour that includes an historical museum. You won’t find Naperville named in any of the placards, but if you talk to the tour guides, some of them have heard of our town. And some tell an “off the record” tale. 

Adolph Kohrs, as he was christened, immigrated from Prussia in 1868. Some stories say he was a stowaway, disembarking in Maryland.

Both of his parents died a few years earlier, but he did have siblings. Brother William eventually followed him to Colorado and joined the business.

Americanizing his name to “Coors,” Adolph made his way to Chicago and on to Naperville, which had seen a wave of German settlers in the 1840’s. 

Adolph spent three years at Stenger Brewery as a highly paid brewmaster before quitting. The local story is that while Stenger hoped to add Adolph to the family business, Adolph wasn’t interested in marrying a Stenger daughter. 

In Golden, it’s whispered that Adolph liked the Stenger girls just fine, but he wasn’t marriage-minded. Getting out of town was a decision to preserve his health and pretty face!
Adolph Coors 
Adolph became very successful, but Prohibition nearly wiped him out. The company eked out a living making malted milk and other non-alcoholic items.

Before Prohibition was repealed and even before the stock market crashed, eighty-two year old Adolph went out a sixth-story hotel window in Virginia Beach. Contemporary accounts wouldn’t or couldn’t say whether he fell, jumped or was thrown.

Passing years have shrouded the facts. Now the story of Adolph Coors is a tale to tell the next time you share a beer with friends.