Category Archives: Event Reviews

Reviews of beer events.

My take on Hunahpu’s Day and the Business Approach of CCB

My take on Hunahpu’s Day and the business approach of CCB:

Things did not go smoothly for the brewery’s first attempt at running Hunahpu’s Day as a beer festival. The event ended up with over double the ticketed number of people. The beer however, was world class; A-game brews from some of the legends of the industry.

To those who believe CCB is a greedy corporation who flooded their own event:
Cigar City was caught in a tough position with ticket reading issues and false claims over who had rights to tickets. Here’s the thing; if you tried to make people happy every single step of the way and that makes you greedy, then I’m going to need to fix my definition. The central issue revolves around the choice to let people in despite finding duplicate tickets. This would have never happened if the ticketing situation wasn’t taken advantage of, and if everyone didn’t provide some variation of a sob story about being swindled. This was the defining moment and a lose/lose situation for the brewery. Damned if they turn people away because CCB was so mean and damned because they didn’t and the event overfilled. It is because of these shady people bottles sold out early. For the brewery there was no advantage to overfilling the event, what was to be gained? If it had been just the promised 3,500 attendees, those bottles which were reserved for the event, would sell out anyway without the extra people that scammed their way in, they have every year. There was no shady illuminati plan to admit everyone and break the promised bottle allotment.

While people should not have been able to pick up cases before 4pm, it happened. What happened after was SHAMEFUL; the reactions of attendees forced the breweries hands to clear the lot. Empty bottles were being thrown and some people behaved like animals. But to sell the day to our fellow beer enthusiasts as a complete disaster is a bit much. Five and a half hours of drinking samples and bottle sharing some of the whales of craft beer, while crowded and a bit hot, came before the breakdown of the crowd.

There are those who would claim the brewery to have orchestrated the event for some sort of nefarious plan to crush the souls of the Hunahopeful. How can you say that though when you see the lengths Joey Redner has gone to make it up to the loyal customers who purchased tickets for themselves? Consolatory moves began with the announcing that a free beer day would follow Hunahpu’s Day, mere hours after the closing down of the event. This resulted, that Sunday, in giving out over $10,000 dollars of beer. Soon after it was decided to just take the hit of over $200,000 in losses through the reimbursement of tickets and keg purchases from some of the world’s best beers from all over the country. All the way to promising an additional batch for those who didn’t get to purchase their beer; I must say that Cigar City Brewing more than made it up.

They have given us our money back (or are in the process of doing so), so if you didn’t get enough samples then you were compensated.

They gave you free beer the next day just to make sure you came for something (as long as you were still in the area).

They promised a new batch to those who retained their silver bracelet, even if you were one of the assholes who took advantage of volunteers and good will.

To top it off they even canceled further Hunahpu’s days due to the overwhelming hatefulness of bridge burners.

Joey Redner, who I have never met, has gone beyond anything any company I have ever dealt with in my everyday life would EVER, ever do, just to make up for the madness that was only partially Cigar City Brewing’s fault. What company would do this for their customers? If you had a bad time and do not feel like this was adequate than I’m sorry. Lose sleep over bigger issues because THIS is world class customer service.

To those who have social anxiety and were emotionally overwhelmed:

I respect your devotion to good craft beer and I believe that Cigar City does as well. I hope that the event wasn’t too overwhelming and I respect your courage to put up with the crowds you expected and beyond.

To those who waited in line for hours to get in, I did too:

A professional might have better ideas of how to fix this but I was in line with some of the best people in the world, Passionate ones. People who love good beer and people who know that if you like something; you love it, learn it, and dedicate some part of yourself to experiencing more.

To those that think this somehow lowers the quality of Cigar City’s beers or puts them on the same level as those who manufacture those commercial beers we see all over bars and tv’s nationwide:

This year’s Hunahpu was by far the best batch and while the events that unfolded were unfortunate and the lines could have been more strictly enforced (I’d have been pissed to have been funneled into bank teller lines); it is clear that they are only increasing in skill and quality.

Finally:

I will be sad to see the loss of Hunahpu’s day. I hope that Cigar City can move past the trauma as I hope we all can (to those who were traumatized). I believe, with all my taste buds, that this year was to be the birth of something glorious. It succeeded in terms of Tap. This was a mind-blowing buildup of 5 years’ worth of networking and collaborating. In terms of experience I had an amazing time, it was crowded as hell but I expected it to be. I’m sorry if you don’t feel like Cigar City has made it up to you but they have more than made it up to me. I know that my LOCAL breweries have got my back and my friend’s backs. They know when things could have been better and they have enough respect to admit it. In another day or so I’ll write up about my experiences at Hunahpu’s day, once the blood is out the water.

Fruit In The Room, January 28, 2014

2014 Fruit in the Room Preview

Fruit In The Room, January 28, 2014

I got a chance to talk to Tim Ogden earlier today at Cigar City Brewpub about the upcoming event on January 28th. We sat down at the bar amidst some renovations; an opening up of the brewpub to accommodate additional 3 barrel fermenters that will increase production and flow thought the restaurant. Tim expressed his interest at hosting Fruit in the Room annually as it was the first two years after its conception. It’s been difficult to lock in until recently, what with the brewery’s expansion and the opening of the new tasting room. Now that the brewpub is settled in the chance has finally arrived. Fruit in the Room is but three days away and with but a fifth of the tickets for the event remaining, excitement builds. The tap list has been finalized for all scheduled breweries but Tim makes a point to say that there might be some last minute breweries arriving for the big day.

The taplist has some very attractive beers from a number of breweries. On the top of my list however is a treatment of the 2014 Hunahpu on Mixed Berries, Tim’s own Cherry Creek Wheat Wine, Life is Like, and 7venth Sun’s Mango FYA.

As posted in the Facebook event page, this is the final taplist:

– CCB Mixed Berry Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout (2014)
– CCB Life is Like…Chocolate Cherry Bourbon Barrel-aged Imperial Stout
– CCB Rum White Oak Pineapple IPA
– CCB Strawberry Lemon Florida Weisse
– CCB Strawberry Muffin Brown Ale
– CCB Sour Lemon IPA
– CCB Imperial Right Side Up Pineapple Cake
– CCB Habanero Mango IPA
– CCB Guanabana Guava Sour
– CCB Passionfruit Guava Sour
– CCB Watermelon Florida Weisse
– CCB Rum French Oak Vanilla Cherry American Porter
– CCBrewpub Cherry Creek Wheat Wine (also available in cans to go!)
– CCBrewpub Carrolwood Cougar
– CCBrewpub Strawberry Mango White IPA on cask
– 7venth Sun Barrel-aged Red D’or (brewed with raspberries and aged in barrels)
– 7venth Sun Mango FYA
– Angry Chair Spread the Jam Tart Raspberry Ale
– B. Nektar Meadery Necromangocon (mead with mango and black pepper)
– The Brew Bus Detour Series Lemon IPA
– The Brew Bus Detour Series Blood Orange IPA
– Swamp Head Blueberry Cottonmouth Wit
– Rivertowne Hala Kahiki Pineapple Beer

As with the previous Fruit in the Room events, the brewpub will be hosting some amazing fruits from three local farms; Kumquat Growers from Dade City,Tomazin Farm from Samsula, and King Family Farm from Myakka. This was a personal favorite of mine at events past. It introduces some to fruits they haven’t experienced before and others to the high quality fruits we grew up on from some remarkable local growers. The fruit also provides an excellent pallet cleanse and a very nice accent to the ways that the different fruits ferment.

After we finished talking about Fruit in the Room, Tim mentioned some of the awesome beers the brewpub will be presenting at Hunahpu’s day. Included is a treatment of Leon’s Grandson’s It’s My Birthday Barley Wine in a Four Roses Barrel. I for one can’t wait. And for anyone who doesn’t have a Hunahpu’s day ticket yet, there are tickets reserved for purchase for all those attending Fruit in the Room.

Red, White, and Craft Brews Fest: A Patriotic Beer Event

Confessional time: I’ve been to more beer festivals than I care to admit. Few are fantastic, a large percentage just border on mediocrity, and some are just plain bad. Profit seems to be the motive rather than spreading the craft brew gospel in the worst examples. To be honest, rarely am I impressed by a suds centric event anymore.

On Saturday, May 18th the 2nd annual Red, White, and Craft Brews Fest was held at the Armed Forces History Museum in Largo, FL. JJ Taylor’s patriotic sounding and looking event was the cap to American Craft Beer Week. My better half, Lisa, and I decided to go on a whim and caught the last half.

Red, White, and Brews Festival 2013

Located just a few blocks off of Ulmerton Road, it wasn’t the easiest to find. Thankfully signs pointed the way and Lisa was more than happy to help navigate. Outside we were greeted by a cool helicopter and other military armament along with a nice lady who welcomed us and rung up the reasonably priced ($25) tickets.

As we walked inside, there were a couple of rooms with military uniforms, guns, bayonets, old infantry hats and the like. All of the displays were professionally done and genuinely interesting. Some pieces went all the way back to Revolutionary War, along with plenty from the Civil War, and from wars thereafter. When valuable drinking time is sacrificed to look at anything, particularly educational, it’s a testament to quality and coolness.

Military Stuff at Red, White, and Brews 2013

Down a darkened hall was the entrance to the tasting and as we walked toward the door it felt like we were in a war zone. Combat sounds filled the air and along with more gnarly displays-it was reminiscent of a scene out of Platoon. Halloween would be a great time to visit; I would imagine as it would be a little eerie.

Oftentimes, beer events are held in a big cavernous room or an open outdoor area. Merely on a hunch, we figured that we had pretty much seen the extent of the museum and that the tasting room would be just a large generic room without a great deal of character. Surprisingly, the exhibits continued and served as a backdrop for the brewery serving tables. To see a military tank above the beer rep while they’re pouring that sweet nectar is memorable.

Red, White, and Brews 2013

So, yeah-we really dug the locale but an awesome setting is nothing without remarkable beer. Many of my favorite breweries made an appearance including Oscar Blues, Lagunitas, and Sierra Nevada. Local celebrities Cigar City and Saint Somewhere made the trek as well. Special edition offerings are always big hits: Stone Brewing Co.’s Espresso Russian Imperial Stout was a rock star and Brooklyn Brewery’s Silver Anniversary Lager really grabbed my attention.

Other event details like parking and plenty of restrooms were more than adequate. Lines were short, possibly because of limited tickets or perhaps the local beer geeks were just too burned out or at least mildly hung over from American Craft Beer Week. People can often add (and sadly detract) to these parties. Ryan, a member of the Brandon Bootleggers Homebrew Club that I belong to attended and it was nice to talk shop with him (Ryan’s also a contributing author this this site — Ed.). Sam Adams had a beer rep that was dynamite and really displayed phenomenal customer service while the Left Hand rep was beyond entertaining.

Sam Adams rep at Red, White, and Brews 2013

Red, White and Brews really did it right and I couldn’t recommend it more. History buffs should explore the museum sans suds and beer aficionados will not want to miss next year. I am impressed.