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Buying Local: How the buying local trend has created a scene for brewers and distillers

Patrick Fort
Aspen Public Radio

Even for a small-scale operation, the amount of grain and other materials needed to make a spirit at the Marble Distilling Co. is huge. Connie Baker is the founder of the distillery. Later, she’ll be shoveling grain from a one ton bag.


Before the Marble Distilling Co. opened its doors last summer, Baker had attended a distilling school in Spokane, Wash.

“It was like a light bulb went off,” she said “This was what I wanted to do with my life.”

Baker spent time finding a loan, but that proved to be difficult. Many times, lenders would be supportive of the idea, but still would not fund the project. Finally, after obtaining the starter funds she needed, Baker opened the Marble Distilling Co. She saw a need for a space where people could really see how distilling was done.  

Credit Patrick Fort / Aspen Public Radio
Aspen Public Radio
Connie Baker founded Marble Distilling Company last summer.

After a year of awards and successful business, Baker is finding that her main source of support is the community — one she says is focused on buying local.  

Keith Marlow is the director of sales and marketing at the distillery. He said the local element is one that drives a lot of business.

“It’s really neat for people to have a cocktail that’s completely sourced locally,” he said. “Everything that Connie has sourced here is from Colorado and sourced as close to us as possible.”


Another local business is feeling the effects of this local drive. Roaring Fork Beer Co. was by Chase Engel, a beer industry veteran. Engel opened his brewery two years ago this week. After some time at Ska Brewing Co., Oskar Blues in Longmont and the Aspen Brewing Company, Engel decided that he wanted to do something on his own.


“It’s more rewarding that way. I get to make my own recipe,” he said. “(To) do it my own way. Do it exactly how I want to do it.”


Doing it his own way means that he can focus on making the beers that he really likes. He prefers hoppy ones.


Like Baker and Marlow at the distillery, Engel says community support is a big reason that his operation has been successful in the past two years.


“People here really follow the “buy local” thing. There’s so many great breweries out there but I think it’s people want to support to guy down the street instead of one of the 4,400 breweries in America.”


Credit Patrick Fort / Aspen Public Radio
Aspen Public Radio
Chase Engel works at the Roaring Fork Beer Company facilities in Carbondale.

That sense of togetherness and shared purpose is something that the people at Marble Distilling Co. have felt extended out to them. They are currently collaborating with Roaring Fork Beer Co. to create a new spirit. Keith Marlow notices the feeling of community and unity that the distilling operation has created.

“It’s been really neat to be on the bike path in Carbondale,” he said. “... people biking down from Aspen, people biking down from Glenwood, people biking up and down the valley and coming in and experiencing what we’re up to. They want to purchase local.”

They want to keep building a community that Connie Baker said has kept its sense of sophistication, but has stayed a friendly place. And most importantly, one where people work together and support each other.


Patrick Fort grew up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, nurturing a love for ice hockey and deli sandwiches. After moving to Colorado in 2010 to attend the University of Colorado to study music, Patrick discovered his love for journalism. In 2013, Patrick created and hosted the award-winning radio program Colorado Stories, a news program that covered CU and the surrounding community. An avid mountain and road cyclist, Patrick also referees youth ice hockey. He loves '60s pop bands and and trying new recipes ranging from milk-braised carnitas to flourless cakes.
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