The idea for Elevated Elixirs hit Hayden Dudley pretty pointedly.
Actually, Dudley hit – the ground. In what he would later blame as a series of ego-driven poor decisions, a failed paragliding launch from the summit of Half Dome in Yosemite sent Dudley crashing into the mountainside. He broke bones throughout his body, including his neck and sternum, injuries that have a slim survival rate. In a 2015 essay published in Hang Gliding magazine, he reflected on how the crash changed him:
“I wanted to be the man. It took a certain man to get himself into that position. And he died. I left him there, along with my attachment to glory. Scaring friends and family with my near-death experience was the ultimate eye opener. Sometimes life isn’t worth living if you are only in it for yourself”
Dudley relied on natural remedies during his recovery and began to think about returning to the Roaring Fork Valley where he had lived years earlier. He said the health culture is vibrant, but the kombucha market lacking.
“It surprised me that Aspen, the forefront of ideas and culture and health, did not have a kombucha brewery, so I figured the niche would fit perfectly here, which it has so far,” said Dudley.
The Elevated Elixirs tent is now a prominent fixture of the Basalt Sunday Market. Dominic Smith is Dudley’s friend and first employee. The pair spend a lot of their time just explaining to shoppers what kombucha is, what’s in it and what health benefits it brings.
Kombucha is a probiotic health tonic made from fermented sweetened tea; ingredients include turmeric, habanero, garlic, ginger, and lions’ mane. It aids digestion boosts metabolism great for rheumatic pains great for hangovers good for anti-anxiety and a soda substitute.”
The elixirs are brewed in what they call “The Lab” at Aspen Highlands. Kombucha’s health benefits derive from the living growing bacteria culture that gives the drink its taste and its fizz – but run counter to typical health department standards.
“We have to do everything that you are told not to do when it comes to food service, where we are letting something go bad, essentially, and that’s what makes it good,” said Dudley.
The guys then mix in additional natural remedies like ginger or turmeric root, there’s even the option to get CBD dropped into the drink, the non-hallucinogenic oil comes from a hemp farm in Palisade, Colo.
Though it’s just in its first year of distributing, Elevated Elixirs is already in 20 locations on tap throughout the valley and has cracked into the Denver market. Smith knew Dudley before his accident, and has seen him transform into the businessman he is today.
“He just continues to evolve,” Smith said. “Just like the product that is a living organism, and its been an amazing evolution to see a friend go through so many different experiences and go through something really special in such a special place,” said Smith.
Dudley’s ego is still present, but now it’s not personal glory he seeks. He thinks he can make things better for others. He hopes the potions that rejuvenated him through recovery and self discovery will help others as well.
He sends his farmers’ market customers off with a friendly “Cheers to your health.”