Last year, festival organizer Julian Heron was fairly sure that one of the area's most vaunted beer events couldn't survive another year of down attendance. Well, worry not, dear drinkers: Saturday's Craft Lager and Small Batch Festival in Manitou Springs got the attendance it needed, and fun was had by all. Even if how many "all" is, has yet to come clear.
"I don’t have any exact numbers [right now], or anything, but we basically sold out of glasses, save a couple, so that tells me we did great," Heron says with a laugh. "We were definitely very busy; distillers, I know, last year poured 2,000 shots or something, and this year they brought 3,500 and still ran out."
This year, Craft Lager was scaled back from two weekend days to one, and a $40 all-day pass was added, which Heron says was the ticket of choice for most people. Police interactions fell from around 20 DUIs a couple years ago to a few guys overdoing it and being followed out after organizers gave the heads-up.
All told, it was quite a success.
"We’re going to actually, I think, make about a $15,000 donation, plus put money aside in case we have a bad year again, 'cause that's what saved us this last time," he says. "But, as you know, I was pretty scared — I was really scared. So I’m gonna fix that over the years by just making that reserve bigger and then if it’s a bad year, it’s bad year. ’Cause it’s gonna happen again some time."
See below for shots from the festival, including a new take on hand-and-ass interaction.
Also, here's a look at one of the best spirits there: Downslope Distilling's special blend of its two-year-old Double Diamond Whiskey and its single-malt. "The resulting flavor is very complex with a grainy/honey start fading to a very slight smoky flavor before finishing with the spiciness of the rye," reads its description.