Hunahpu’s Day: Tampa Beer Release Draws Record-Crushing Crowds

March 10, 2014 | By | Comments (2)

Lee Heidel is the managing editor for Brew / Drink / Run, a lifestyle blog based in Savannah, GA devoted to craft beer culture and leading active lifestyles. You can follow Team BDR at their website, brewdrinkrun.com or on Twitter @brewdrinkrun.

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Photo by Lee Heidel

Tampa, Florida’s Cigar City Brewing is one of the most acclaimed breweries in the country, crafting intense and delicious beers from creative combinations of surprising ingredients.But, out of their vast catalog of brews, none is more revered than Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout.

Due to the continued, cult-like popularity of Hunahpu’s, Cigar City has turned the release day into a beer festival held on the brewery grounds. On Hunahpu’s Day, devotees can buy a small allotment of the main event in bottles, and also try the most innovative beers from other small breweries.

The sweet, rich and spicy blend has earned a perfect composite score of 100 on RateBeer.com and 99 on BeerAdvocate, the two largest online communities for reviewing craft beer.

So it was no wonder when this year’s festival drew such a crowd that chaos ensued.

After growing year after year, the decision was made to scale back attendance to 3,500 advance tickets for this year’s event, which sold out quickly. As in years past, festival day was full of amazing beers, both on tap and available through bottle sharing among attendees. The camaraderie and respect between craft brewers and their fans were on full display, and new friends were made from around the world.

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Photo by Lee Heidel

But despite Cigar City’s effort at limiting attendance, the crowd swelled far past the promised number of attendees due to counterfeit ticket sales. Long lines clogged the later tastings of the rarest of beers at the festival.

The brewery acted swiftly to make amends by refunding the $50 admission price to all attendees, regardless of their individual experience, as well as opening up its tasting room for free pours on the following day.

But unfortunately the power of Hunahpu’s proved to be too much for Cigar City’s staff, and they’ve decided that this year’s was the last. Instead of raising a glass to give cheers to Hunahpu’s Day, we instead do so in order to pay our respects.

But cry not, craft beer-lovers. Brewery Owner Joey Redner hinted that next year they plan to distribute the beer to markets across the region so all its fans can have a taste without the lines. We’ll be waiting.

COMMENTS

  1. Jeff Black

    We arrived around 11:15, and got in the gate just before 1:00. We recognized that there were problems immediately upon having to walk down the street to get in line, and so were cognizant of the significance of the fact that there was only a maybe 5 minute wait for our three bottles when we got inside. We immediately purchased our bottles and hiked them back out to the parking lot, and then returned to enjoy the rest of the day and whatever beer we could sample. Call it luck of the draw or whatever, but we were able to then enjoy several of the samples being coveted, and and I am not joking when I say we were literally the last ones to get those samples. Of course, most of our time was spent going from tap to tap, with very little time spent not sampling. All in all we had a great time, got to drink some great beers, and by 3:45 we had reached our limit and were headed into CCB’s tap room for a respite from the sun when things were shut down. Not everyone had our experience, but all in all, it was a great time.

    March 14, 2014 at 9:03 am
  2. R.I.P. Hunahpu's Day – Brew / Drink / Run

    […] can read a more condensed version of Hunahpu’s Day 2014 at Lee’s article for Southern Living. We thought it would be fun to give a personal touch here, with first-hand accounts of our […]

    March 11, 2014 at 8:46 am

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