Feature

Citizen Coors

August 2000

In 1873, along the banks of Clear Creek in Golden, Adolph Coors — a 26-year-old German immigrant who had come to America as a penniless stowaway — founded the brewery that would make him a millionaire. Eighteen years later, that very same creek almost put the Coors family out of business.

A Memorial Day flash flood destroyed a newly constructed addition to the brewery and threatened the family’s ornate Queen Anne mansion. But rather than give in to fate, Coors dispatched an assistant across the creek to make a cash offer to the four families who lived on the other side. Within minutes, he had purchased their homes and his workers began tearing them down and frantically digging a channel that would divert Clear Creek away from his brewery. Adolph Coors bent the river.

It would not be the last time Coors Brewing would have to rebound from a staggering setback. Prohibition would push the brewery’s founder to suicide and very nearly bankrupt the company. A generation later, grandson Adolph Coors III would be kidnapped and murdered just as he was being groomed to run the brewery. And by the time great-grandsons Peter and Jeffrey began to take the company’s reigns, Coors was enduring a national boycott sparked by the anti-union tactics and the right-wing politics of their father, Joe, and uncle, Bill.