At the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, the walls have eyes.
"I've never counted them, but there are faces all over the building," said museum director Matt Mayberry, pointing to Art Nouveau flourishes that include carved cherubs above the main entrance and "all these little faces looking out at you" from cast iron lamp posts on the east and west elevations.
The 38 American Indian heads, carved in bas-relief on the Cotopaxi lava rock keystone of each second story window, beg for a backstory beyond architectural trend.
Each keystone face is unique, with different hairstyles, expressions and features.
"That guy looks surprised. This one, mildly amused," Mayberry said.
No one knows whose hands created the faces, which were carved sometime between the setting of the building's cornerstone in 1901 and its dedication, as the city courthouse, in 1903. No historical records from the time mention the keystones, their makers or the motivation behind them, but it's believed the faces are a "reflection of the American West and a reference back to settlement . and what was here before we were," said Mayberry.
Earlier this year, the faces caught the eye of Pikes Peak Brewing founder Chris Wright. He'd recently expanded the brewing operation at his Monument-based craft taproom and restaurant, freeing up equipment and space for a pilot system dedicated to one-offs and test batches.
Based on sales data, IPAs and seasonal releases are the brewery's top sellers, respectively, and Wright figured he'd combine the styles, for the best of both worlds. He was casting around for a theme for that new series of creative, seasonal IPAs when he landed on a web page describing the keystones.
"I realized absolutely how scary-well that fits in with the beer for us. All of our names for all of our beers reflect something unique to the Pikes Peak region," said Wright, whose brewery released the first 38 Faces IPA - in cans, naturally - earlier this month.
There isn't a set schedule for releases, each of which will bear a label image of a different keystone, though Wright expects they'll come out once or twice a year.
"When I come upon a new idea or ingredient, that's what's going to drive the changes," said Wright, whose inaugural 38 Faces brew is made with blood orange puree.
Like the keystone faces they honor, the beers each will express "individual personality." Each entry will feature a new flavor and variations on the hops, yeast or brewing process.
"History buffs may hear about it and want to try the beer, but more likely beer lovers will want to learn more about them (the keystones) and the museum," he said.
Wright's not the first brewer to turn to local history for inspiration, Mayberry said.
"Craft brewing is so popular here. We have people come here looking for inspiration, whether in historic photos, in stories," he said. "The history of Colorado Springs is as a dry town. It's ironic that in a dry town we should have so many independent brewers."