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Posted: April 01, 2010

Colorado cool stuff: straight-up chess and small-batch whiskey

Eric Peterson

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STRAIGHT UP CHESS

In 2008, Steve Schrier wanted to decorate a wall in his office and put a chess set on display. He killed two birds with one stone: a vertical chessboard with 64 cubbies instead of spaces. The wall-mounted chess sets come in two sizes - 34 inches by 22 inches for 3-inch pieces or 30 inches by 20 inches for 2.5-inch pieces. Schrier has a deep catalog of wood, pewter and themed chess sets to sell you with a vertical board. He's sold 300 since he built his own, which got him back into playing chess after a long layoff. Says Schrier: "Once I put it on the wall, we started playing two or three times a week." $200 to $300, chess set included.
Made by TRF Games Inc., Denver, (720) 837-0114, www.straightupchess.com.

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LILYPOND BAGS

Co-headquartered in Dillon and Kansas City, Fishpond took the fly-fishing market by storm a decade ago. Founded by professional colleagues and fishing buddies John Le Coq, Case Logic co-founder and commercial photographer, and Dave Thompson, a Fortune 500 corporate communications veteran, Fishpond is branching into active women's lifestyle bags with Lilypond, beginning with a line of 15 stylish and colorful bags that hit the market last summer.
Ranging from messenger bags to wheeled luggage, Lilypond bags "grew out of the heritage of Fishpond," Thompson says. "We've done very well with Fishpond. We had the right product at the right time. Lilypond is in the launch phase - we've done the heavy lifting, but the jury's still out." $49 to $209 retail.
Made by Fishpond Inc., Dillon/Kansas City, www.fishpondusa.com.
A dealer locator is on the website.

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LEOPOLD BROS.
SMALL BATCH AMERICAN WHISKEY
Standout micro-distillery Leopold Bros.were known for flavored whiskeys like New York Apple and Rocky Mountain Peach - as well as their absinthe and their liqueurs - but now the boys are cutting to the chase with a newly released small batch whiskey, and it lives up to Leopold Bros.' sterling reputation: With a mellow start and a peppery finish, this is a whiskey with a complex character. "It's a pre-Prohibition-style American whiskey," says master distiller Todd Leopold, who runs the business with brother Scott. "The aroma and flavors of the corn and rye are much more evident than they are in modern whiskies." $32.99 retail.
Made by Leopold Bros. Small Batch Distillers, Denver, (303) 307-1515, www.leopoldbros.com. A retailer/bar/restaurant locator is on the website.

FLINGS BINS
The first product launch from Evergreen Innovation Partners - John Funk, Dave Bayless and Vandy Van Wagener - Flings Bins are self-contained trash and recycling bins for parties and other gatherings. The trio looked at 4,000 inventions and liked Flings so much they spun off TrashCo to bring it to market. (They've licensed others, including a sand-cleaning mitt dubbed Sand-Off.)
Flings pop up from their compact packaged state thanks to an internal aluminum strut and are made from a heavy-duty plastic that's 50 percent stronger than a typical trash bag. Not that the market debut of Flings means they aren't still busy with other ideas at Evergreen. "We're running two companies - we're just sleeping less than usual," Van Wagener says. $3.49 retail.
Made by TrashCo Inc., Englewood, (303) 991-1863, www.flingsbins.com.

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Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com

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