This is the southern gateway to the Rockies and the watering hole of Colorado turned into a glorious line-up of kegs. Welcome to Manitou Springs Heritage Brew Festival, this year hosted by the Buffalo Lodge just located a hop, skip, and a jump from downtown Manitou. The Manitou Springs Heritage Center is now celebrating its third annual brew fest. Despite the foreboding warning of some of our local meteorologists, the sun was peeking through the intermittent clouds and the first true day of fall after the equinox was goosing me with the allure of colder weather yet to come. I was there to drink some beer and with a designated driver along for the ride, I was ready to drink a lot of it. After a bit of a quest for parking, we made our way past the Buffalo Lodge and found our way to the festivities on the far side of a swimming pool that had lost its appeal with the falling leaves. We quickly and efficiently were shown in and adorned with a complimentary VIP pretzel necklace, which I proudly knew would be devoured by the day’s end. Precious little Heritage Brew Festival mini stein in hand, I had the tools to begin my sampling onslaught.
As I dashed from one local brewery to the next, I ran into a bounty of fine, festive folks both in front of and behind the booths. The customary game of my generation (AKA corn hole) was smack dab in the center of the festival with a rather dapper looking stage at the back end of the long and narrow venue. After downing a few sours and a hearty portion of IPAs I realized my pretzels were making a rather piss-poor lunch. Lucky for us the food carts were opening their doors and the and the smell of fresh meats and bread drew us straight to Witty Pork’s Woodfired Pizza where I had the fortune of wolfing down possibly the best pizzas I’ve ever had. After making a quick (unintentional) walk through the middle of the corn hole field we ran into Mike, one of the facilitators of the Heritage Brew Festival, dressed to the nines in an exceedingly dapper zoot suit. After a quick chat, I had more beer on my agenda, and I was off to hit up a few favorites like Cerberus, Paradox, and Manitou Brewing and to discover some breweries new to me like Goat Patch, Jaks, and Nano 108.
As the day went on and the beers went down the jaunty Celtic tunes of Skean Dubh set the mood for more drinking. My pretzel necklace was sadly expended and my hopes of winning any of the raffles during the day were all but completely squelched. Still, I had a belly full of beer, and a great new appreciation for some breweries that I had never sampled before. With one final round, I determined that I had seen pretty much everything and it was time to hit the dusty trail on course for Oktoberfest in the evening (I had certainly not paced myself). We said farewell to Manitou Springs Heritage Brew Festival for another year. Until next time, I’m going to be dreaming of that transcendental pizza, Celtic music, and beer pairing and hoping that next year I’ll be able to repeat it if not simply emulate it. Cheers Manitou Springs, until we meet again!