May 27, 2008

Minnesota 13


I've got moonshine on a cloudy day*
When visiting relatives over the Memorial Day weekend, my Dad's wonderful wife loaned the old feeder her copy of Minnesota 13, Stearns County's 'Wet' Wild Prohibition Days by Elaine Davis. I knew my new 'Mom' was from Albany, Minnesota, but not that she was raised in a whole county of Prohibition outlaws.

While the area's predominantly German immigrants didn't think alcohol ought to be illegal, the main reason for the enterprise was economic. It wasn't just prohibition, but the coincidence of hard times on the farm that drove the local enterprise. Evidently, between 1920 and 1933 almost every family in Stearns County, Minnesota was involved in the manufacture and distribution of an internationally famous 'brand' of moonshine known as Minnesota 13.

The whiskey got its name from the seed variety used to grow the corn for the mash. Stearns County had plenty of old-country brewing and distilling talent, and their conscientious attention to detail produced a pure, lead-free 'shine. The stuff was actually aged in charred oak barrels, and could be ordered by name in speakeasies everywhere.
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* Apologies to Sam Milby and the Temptations. Also to the Huntington Beach, California band, and to those who clicked in thinking Minnesota 13 was a Midwestern latino gang.
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Get your own copper whiskey still!

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