The Columbus Ale Trail -- which kicks off its fourth year Friday (May 11) as part of Columbus Craft Beer Week -- is showing no signs of slowing down.

In fact, the state's first brewery passport program is getting even more popular with age. Just consider these eye-popping numbers:

-- 2,370 people completed the trail last year. For comparison, only 500 finished in the first year when there were only 20 stops and about 600 completed it in the second year.

-- 400-plus people showed up Sunday at Combustion Brewery & Taproom in Pickerington to get their Volume 4 passports early.

"Volume 3 exceeded everyone's expectations and especially exceeded the Ale Trail budget," said Jim Ellison, who helps run the trail and also operates Columbus Brew Adventures. "The big winners were the craft beer fans and the breweries that got a great return on their investment for participating."

Volume 4 features 41 breweries. The prizes are a pint glass if you collect four stamps, a locally made wooden key chain at 21 stamps and a pennant featuring the Ale Trail logo and brewery logos if you complete the entire trail. There's also a special stamp for people who do a tour with Columbus Brew Adventures.

Several breweries are hosting parties this week to hand out passports early:

Tuesday (May 8): Seventh Son from 5 to 7 p.m. and Barley's from 7 to 9 p.m.

Wednesday: Sideswipe from 5 to 7 p.m. and Restoration from 5 to 7 p.m.

Thursday: Knotty Pine from 5 to 7 p.m., Actual from 7 to 9 p.m. and Temperance Row from 5 to 7 p.m.