Three days and nights of world-class national, regional and local musicians, performing in a field in Black Forest, for you and 1,500 or so like-minded (or at least like-eared) souls.

In its 10th year, MeadowGrass Music Festival is all that and a bag of beer fest.

The annual Memorial Day weekend gathering at La Foret Conference and Retreat Center is adding a special, sudsy grace note to Friday's opening night lineup, thanks in large part to inspiration from a festival boom town a bit farther west.

"Like Telluride's Blues & Brews, the idea is you have a small window while the music's playing, where brewers are there pouring samples, talking about different beers and their companies," said festival director Michele Mukatis.

In addition to tunes, between 4:30 and 7 p.m. May 25, single-day and weekend-pass ticket holders 21 and up are treated to a "mini beer fest" showcasing the products of 18 craft outfits from around the state, including the recently opened Black Forest Brewing Co.

"Seth Glier, whose music is plaintive to funky, will be playing when the tasting starts, and then it goes into New Orleans Suspects," Mukatis said. "So it starts out a little mellow and then amps up a bit so you can dance some of your suds off."

As in past years, alcoholic libations from Distillery 291, 3 Hundred Days of Shine, Sovereignty Wines and Pikes Peak Brewing Co. - whose MeadowGrass Jam Session IPA was released last week - will be available for purchase throughout the festival's run.

"We have always had an adult beverage tent, but we wanted to try something a little different this year," Mukatis said.

MeadowGrass' organizer, nonprofit Rocky Mountain Highway Music Collaborative, partnered with another local nonprofit, the All Colorado Beer Festival, to present the beer tasting. It's something of a trial run and deliberately was kept modest, said ACBF assistant director Randy Dipner.

To gauge interest, Dipner sent out an inquiry to brewers who'd participated in the ACBF last November, asking if they'd be game to pour at a Friday night session at MeadowGrass.

"There was a good deal of excitement on the part of brewers. We had 15 replies of interest almost immediately," said Dipner. "It's a new idea for us and kind of a new idea for Colorado Springs. We're hopeful that it if this works well, we can expand it next year to be bigger and better."

The beer tasting is a bonus for MeadowGrass music fans, but hey - if it's a mini brew fest that gets you out of the house, feel free to look at it the other way around.

"If someone is just a beer fest person and they just want to drink beer, this is a nice, small beer festival ... but this certainly offers something more," Dipner said. "Buy a ticket for Friday, you get the beer fest and you get to spend that whole day listening to music. There's just something about drinking beer and listening to live music."


Stephanie Earls is a news reporter and columnist at The Gazette. Before moving to Colorado Springs in 2012, she worked for newspapers in upstate NY, WA, OR and at her hometown weekly in Berkeley Springs, WV, where she got her start in journalism.

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