The Feast of St. Arnold's Pilgrimage of Pints "Cartogram" will warm the heart-cockles of anachronists, especially those questing for a good (and quantifiable) excuse to explore the area's regional craft breweries.
And I do mean regional.
In its second year, the pre-festival brewery challenge includes 14 breweries and an incentive for microbrew fans who expand their horizons into friendly and suds-chartable "Here Be Dragons" territory.
The destination breweries are spread across three "realms" - Mountains, Valley and Plains - plus the Frontier, a Merlin-mandered region covering Ute Pass Brewing Co. in Woodland Park and JAKs Brewing Co. in Falcon.
Pilgrims who visit and order a special Feast-inspired beer at 10 of the breweries - three from each realm and at least one Frontier brewery - earn two-for-one general admission to the family-friendly June 10 brewfest, a fundraiser benefiting Westside CARES and the missions of Chapel of Our Saviour. Those who visit all 14 Pilgrimage breweries get a free VIP tasting glass.
"The Pilgrimage is a fun way to learn about the festival, and it's fun for me as a brewer," said Pete Kilman, of Storybook Brewing, where pilgrims can sample two limited-edition, barrel-aged beers inspired by St. Arnold of Metz, the patron saint of brewers and the festival's namesake. "They're both older beers, high aged. One is a braggot aged in a wine barrel and the other is a Flanders brown. I was trying to go with styles from that area of Europe because that's where St. Arnold would have come from."
The Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau kicked off its own liquid grail quest this month, and through the end of July participants can download a Crafts and Drafts Passport with 14 adult-libation locations showcasing the area's craft beverage scene, microbreweries to moonshine.
Those who collect a "secret code" from at least five of the featured locations can exchange their passport for a free Crafts and Drafts T-shirt and be entered in a grand prize drawing for a two-night getaway in Colorado Springs.
Thanks in part to a grant from the Colorado State Tourism Office, the local travel bureau was able to expand on a marketing campaign launched last year to highlight the area's craft industry.
"We think it's an important message and it reaches a great audience. We were going to do it either way this year, but because we were awarded money we were able to make this bigger," said Chelsy Offutt, the bureau's director of communications.
In addition to the Passport program, this year's Crafts & Drafts includes special deals at partner businesses, weekly giveaways on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (#VisitCOS) and the grand prize, a two-night stay at a regional bed and breakfast with VIP behind-the-scenes tours and special perks at participating businesses.
"Residents can enter to win the contest and get as much enjoyment out of it as a regional traveler," Offutt said. "There's no reason not to enjoy a staycation."