New Supreme Court Justice Bret Kavanaugh had admitted during his testimony to drinking beer with his friends while in high school and college. I’d have to plead guilty to that charge as well. Being of German descent, drinking beer is in my DNA, at least that’s my excuse! My favorite brew at the time was Coors beer, which was not pasteurized and meant that it could not be stored at room temperature, but had to be refrigerated after leaving the brewery in Colorado (or maybe not - see below?).
Back in the ’60’s, Coors was only sold west of the Mississippi River due to the logistical issues of refrigerated shipping back in those days. As budding engineers in college, who enjoyed Coors beer, we innovated and had a fraternity brother from Kansas City with a Chevy Greenbrier minivan haul cases of Coors on ice to school each semester.
We helped him rig his van for storing the beer on ice in well-insulted boxes. It worked, as there was always plenty of ice upon his arrival at school each semester. The Coors was immediately transferred to various mini-refrigerators in the rooms around the frat house, to be parceled out one can at a time so it lasted (most of) the semester till the next stash arrived.
The Greenbrier was a derivative of the Chevy Corvair (aka per Ralph Nader, Unsafe at Any Speed).
The rear mounted, air cooled 4 cylinder end-to-end engine was located in the space under the rear storage area as shown in this photo. So we obviously had to keep the chilled beer away from the rear to keep the ice from melting.
During the summer of 1970, a group of us traveled across the country in a caravan that included the Coorsmobile.
We of course sampled our favorite brew along the way once we crossed the Mississippi River, heading for a fraternity national convention in Aspen, Colorado. We stopped in Golden, Colorado, just west of Denver, to tour the Coors brewery. It excited us all to see the home of our favorite beer. Here’s a commercial about the brewery from that era.
At that time, Coors Field and the Colorado Rockies baseball team did not exist; otherwise, for sure we would have checked out a game at that namesake iconic stadium to further sample our favorite brew.
Once in Aspen, we enjoyed exploring the Rocky mountains for the first time, riding the ski lifts, albeit in the summer without the snow. Several of our fraternity brothers recently bought vacation homes in that area of the Rockies, a desire no doubt borne during the trip a long time ago.
We continued to head west after the convention, traveling Interstate 70 across the Rockies. I recall the old Greenbrier having quite a struggle at the higher elevations crawling up the grade since the Eisenhower tunnel along I70 was still under construction.
That old air-cooled, four cylinder engine was working overtime, however, eventually we arrived in Salt Lake City where a fraternity brother’s uncle was the football coach at the University of Utah.
After touring the campus and the football facilities, I recall going to the nearby Great Salt Lake and literally floating in the lake drinking a Coors. With the high salt content of the lake, the human body will easily float on top of the water.
We also drove out to the Bonneville Salt Flats where at the time vehicle speed records were being regularly set. This article about the Bonneville Jet Wars tells more of the story about racer Craig Breedlove breaking the 600 mph barrier in the late ’60’s.
Our caravan was gradually making its way further west, eventually heading for California to sample the Coors beer there (and obviously to check out the appealing California Girls commemorated by the famous Beach Boys song of the same name). Look for that installment in next week’s blog.
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