CINCINNATI - Coors beer helped put Weber's Cafe on the map. It also helped keep it there.
Limited distribution of the Rocky Mountain's best made South Cumminsville the place to be.
Cincinnatians of my generation, raised on Hudepohl, Schoenling, Wiedemann and Burger, had only heard about the golden nectar brewed in the Colorado Rockies. Reputedly a product of God's purest water and special handling after brewing, Coors beer was the liquid grail of our time. Its mystique was enhanced because you couldn't buy it east of the Mississippi River.
Caressed like a new baby after being bottled, it was only distributed within a day's drive of Golden, Colo., to insure freshness. Legend has it that Kansas City was Coors' most eastern outpost.
Naturally, it lent Coors a cache that imbued it with a legend everyone sought to sip.
But who had the time or the resources for a 589-mile beer run?
Well, over the road truckers did!
Legend has it that the owner of Weber's worked a deal with drivers from the transport companies that studded South Cumminsville in those days. They would toss a case or two, or two hundred into the dead space of their semis as they headed back to their Cincinnati terminals.
Cash gratuities undoubtedly changed hands, which ended up being reflected in the price: 35 to 45 cents more per can than other domestic brews. Ahh, but it was worth it to slake one's thirst with the amber elixir that made John Denver warble as he did.
And word flowed across the University of Cincinnati campus like Rocky Mountain Kool-Aid. Coors was available in Weber's!
There were no six-packs to-go as I recall. It had to be consumed on the premises. That, of course, drove food consumption, leading to a thriving cottage Coors industry in the midst of the dim warren of truck terminals off Interstate 74's Elmore Street exit.
And so the legend lived until 1981 when the brewer expanded its distribution network, razing the great Coors aluminum curtain.
I'm sure the Weber family has the day draped in black bunting. Clandestine Coors tasted the same as that now available on a store shelf but had none of the back story that rendered the pre-1981 suds one of our coming-of-age memories.
I wish all the best to the Weber family as they shutter their institution. A plaque erected on the Dawson and Dremen avenues site would not be inappropriate.