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.
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.
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.