Before my father owned Gloor’s Bakery, his father and mother were the proprietors. The bakery which my father later purchased from Grandpa was in the downtown area. A history of Platte County, Nebraska which I located on the internet refers to Grandpa moving from the original site to “his modern establishment” in the early 1940s. That phrase made me laugh, because while a lot of his machinery might have been state-of-the-art for the time, the building itself was quite old. I don’t exactly know how old, and I’m still seeing this through the eyes of a child, but it seemed very old to me.
The basement, in particular, was indicative of the building’s age. It was flat-out scary. In the over 18 years during which I probably went into that building nearly every day, I never went into the basement. Never. Not once. My sister Bec did, and so did my brother Dave. I’m told it had a dirt floor, a single light bulb with a pull string, and lots of ghosts.
Oh, and Grandpa’s wine barrels.
Because each fall Grandpa would gather grapes from vines growing outside of Columbus, and make wine. I, of course, never tasted the wine. According to my father, sometimes it was good and sometimes it was bad.
That’s as close as I’ve come to anyone making their own alcoholic beverages. But now I have a friend in the distillery business.
We only recently learned that the son-in-law of friends of ours is a distiller. His business is located in south-central Denver, and is called Bear Creek Distillery. The name comes from the fact that the owners all went to Bear Creek High School together. Though they went separate ways following graduation, they have all come back together to form this exceptional distillery.
You might remember that about a year ago, I embarked on a campaign to develop a taste for whiskey. While I don’t always meet my goals, I did quite well in this case. I have come to learn to like most whiskeys. Bourbon and Scotch, well, not quite as much as rye, Canadian, and Irish. But that is neither here nor there. My interest in whiskey led us to a night at Bear Creek Distillery…..
The first thing I noticed when we walked in the door was the smell — the fragrant smell of what I guess was roasted wheat and rye. Whereas I have always personally found the smell of beer being brewed rather unpleasant, this smell reminded me of walking into the bakery when my dad was baking bread.
Jeff Dickinson – our friends’ son-in-law – met us and immediately offered us a taste of his wares. Bill had an Old-Fashioned made with their straight bourbon whiskey, and I offered one up for the team: straight rye with one ice cube. Bill was already smacking his lips with delight as I took my first taste. It was fragrant and had almost a spicy taste. And smooth. Like buttah.
Jeff gave us a quick tour of the facilities, which are, frankly, beautiful. I don’t know if that’s a fair description, but the copper kettles are shiny and gorgeous. Jeff told us they were built in and imported from Germany.
The barrels which store the distilled beverages, allowing them to age, line the walls and fill up the rest of the room…..
I keep saying whiskey, but Bear Creek Distillery also makes small-batch rum, spiced rum, rye vodka and wheat vodka. They have won numerous awards in national and international competitions, something that came as no surprise to me.
According to their brochure…..
Bear Creek Distillery is an American craft distillery located in the heart of Denver and is the brainchild of a small group of friends focused on producing exceptional hand crafted premium spirits. Each spirit is produced grain to bottle, in our Denver facility. Whenever possible, we use local ingredients and materials sourced from Colorado companies.
I reckon that is all true. Here’s what I can tell you. It tastes good. Good enough that Bill bought a bottle of bourbon to bring home. He pushed aside his Jack Daniels to make room…..
While Bear Creek Distillery offers a comfortable and welcoming bar, you can also purchase their small-batch bourbons, rums, ryes, etc. at many local liquor stores. We spotted Bear Creek Straight Bourbon at Denver’s newest liquor store — Total Wine and Liquors.
Now if I could just get them to make me some gin!