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Category Archives: Beer Festival

Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp to host pre-season beer fest

Jumbo Shrimp & Suds Craft Beer Festival-page-001The inaugural season of the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp is quickly approaching and the team is planning a whole slew of great events to keep baseball lovers entertained and delighted. One of the first events is designed to appeal to beer lovers – the Shrimp & Suds Craft Beer Festival at the Baseball Grounds.

Local brews will be highlighted at the event along with more than 50 beers to sample. Concession stands throughout the ballpark will also be open to serve hungry festival goers some of the new menu offerings featured this year.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, April 1 from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and will benefit the Jacksonville USO.

For all the event details, take a look at the official press release below:

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Before the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp season begins next month, the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville will play host to the Shrimp & Suds Craft Beer Festival to benefit the Jacksonville USO on Saturday, April 1, when guests will have a unique opportunity to get an early taste of the new ballpark menu and sample selections from more than 50 different beers including Northeast Florida’s local breweries.

The Shrimp & Suds Craft Beer Festival will be Saturday, April 1, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. VIP ticket holders will be able to enter at 2 p.m. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Jacksonville USO.

“The Greater Jacksonville Area USO is most thankful to the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp for their support of the Shrimp and & Suds fundraiser in support of the USO and all the military families we serve,” said Greater Jacksonville Area USO Executive Director Mike O’Brien.

Tickets for the Shrimp & Suds Craft Beer Festival are available at www.jaxshrimp.com. For $40, a guest will receive 20 drink samples and a Jumbo-size ballpark pretzel. VIP admission is $50, which includes 25 drink samples, a Jumbo-size ballpark pretzel, and early access one hour before the gates open for other guests. Legal ID will be necessary for entry to the event, which is exclusively for guests ages 21 and over.

Samples will be available at the event of more than 50 different beers, including samples from local Aardwolf Brewing Company, Ancient City Brewing, Bold City Brewery, Engine 15 Brewing Company, Green Room Brewing, Intuition Ale Works, Pinglehead Brewing Company, Veterans United Craft Brewery, and Zeta Brewing Company.

Throughout the festival, guests will be able to purchase food and beverage from the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville concession stands, shop for Jumbo Shrimp gear in the souvenir store, or purchase game tickets for the upcoming season.

The First Coast Car Council will also showcase specialty vehicles on the ballpark warning track during the event.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2017 in Beer, Beer Festival

 

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Hunahpu’s Day 2017: A long road to perfection

Hunahpus-Day-2017-Tease-300x300Back in 2010, Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout made its debut in the beer scene. The decadent stout aged on cacao nibs, Madagascar vanilla beans, ancho chilies, pasilla chilies and cinnamon garnered Cigar City a gold medal at the 2010 and 2011 U.S. Open Beer Championships catapulting it to the national beer scene’s attention.

In that first year, Hunahpu’s release day was a relatively small event held in the brewery tap room. Several hundred beer-lovers gathered to taste and purchase bottles of the beer with little fanfare. But, as word of the beer spread through the beer community, demand began to grow. The beer became a hot commodity on many beer trading websites and, as bottles became more scarce, demand grew to a fever pitch.

Taking notice of the demand for the beer, the brewery planned a bigger event for the second release date. Dubbed Hunahpu’s Day, in 2011 guest breweries were invited to bring their rare and specialty beers, set up tents and offer tastes of their beers on a pay-per-pour basis. Crowds were heavy, but manageable. Except for a few scuffles over line position, the event went well enough for Cigar City to plan the same type of event for the next year.

By 2013, the hype of Hunahpu’s Day had built to such a level that hundreds – perhaps thousands — of beer aficionados queued up to get their allotment of the brew. The line was so long that the line ran several blocks up the street from the brewery and into a nearby shopping center parking lot. Rabid fans began lining up as early as 8:00 p.m. the night before, camping out at the gates of the brewery in order to be one of the first to sample the cornucopia of rare beers brought by breweries from all over the country. Many brought coolers and shared beer as a way to whittle away at the time.

Complaints of long lines began within the first hour or so of the event. Crowds crushed in to lines at the most popular tents creating waits of more than an hour. Often, unscrupulous guests would cut the line and walk right up to the front much to the ire of those who had been waiting in the hot Florida sun. To make matters worse, a staffing agency had been hired to provide servers who had no training on how to pour beer causing even longer waits.

After the event was over, it was estimated 9,000 guests passed through the gates at Cigar City leaving over-flowing port-a-lets, mounds of trash and myriad complaints from guest who were unable to get beers they had set their minds on drinking. But, due to some quick thinking by Cigar City owner, Joey Redner who reduced bottle purchase limits from three per person to two, anyone who wanted a bottle of Hunahpu’s was able to purchase one.

The massive crowds of the past led Redner and Cigar City Brewing President Toni Derby to change the format to a ticketed event in 2014. It was also decided that the event would be limited to 3,500 attendees. Ticket holders were entitled to unlimited tastes of guest beers and guaranteed an opportunity to purchase an allotment of three bottles. When the tickets went on sale on Eventbrite, they sold out in less than two hours. In theory, by limiting the number of guests, the brewery would be better able to plan for the event and insure that there would be plenty of beer for everyone. Further, guests were to be issued a silver wristband upon entry that would be removed when they had purchased their bottles of beer. Guests were told that they could purchase their allotment of bottles any time during the day, but that at 4:00 p.m. remaining bottles would be available for purchase without limit.

Because of the popularity of the event in the past and the speed at which tickets sold out, a lively secondary market for ticket sales popped up on other online outlets such as Craigslist. Since tickets purchased on Eventbrite can be printed at home, at least one – and likely several – purchasers made copies of tickets and sold the copies online. As the counterfeit tickets began appearing at the festival gates, arguments between duped guests and ticket-takers broke out. The line to get into the event began to grow and tempers flared. A snap decision was made to open the gates to everyone. The influx of bodies filled the brewery parking lot to capacity and beer lines grew longer and longer.

Then, at 4:00 p.m. when open bottle sales began the crowd shifted from the tasting lines to the purchase lines. Thousands crowded in, vying to get extra bottles.  Many purchased the 22-ounce bottles in cases of 12. But, as the feeding frenzy escalated, it became apparent that there were many guests who still had their silver wristbands and had not been able to purchase their promised three bottles. Clashes broke out between those buying extra bottles and those trying to get their allotment.

By 5:00 p.m. the bottles sold out. Redner, looking frazzled, put his hands into the air and announced that there were no more bottles to sell and police officers moved in to close the metal bay doors. The crowd became even more agitated with several banging on the doors others chanting, “Cigar City sucks!” To many caught in the middle of the crowd, it looked as if a riot could break out.

In the end, the festival was concluded early and, as the dust settled, Redner made an apology and a promise to get Hunahpu’s to any who did not get their allotment. Later, in a statement, he said, “I am acknowledging defeat. That was the last Hunahpu’s Day. The beer will go into distribution next year and hopefully spread out among many accounts, it will get to consumers more fairly.”

But, though it looked as if Hunahpu’s Day would never happen again, Cigar City surprised consumers and announced that there would indeed be a Hunahpu’s Day 2015. But, the event would be a strictly controlled, ticketed event limited to 2,000 attendees with a ticket price of $200. Each ticket included four bottles of Hunahpu’s to be handed out as guests left the festival. They also included food and unlimited tastings of guest beers.

The event went off without a hitch.

Then, in 2016, the brewery decided to take its show on the road and hold the event at Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park on Tampa’s waterfront. The change of venue allowed the event to stretch out a bit and kept it from feeling so crowded. It also allowed the event to grow to include more brewers and that meant more exceptional beers to taste.

This year, Cigar City’s Hunahpu’s Day will once again occupy Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park with even more brewers than 2016. The lineup includes such luminaries in the brewing business as Anderson Valley, Black Project, Crooked Stave, Firestone Walker, Fremont and Toppling Goliath. In addition, there are 16 breweries from 13 different countries as far flung as Russia, New Zealand and Sweden that will afford beer lovers tastes of beers they may never otherwise be able to try.

The 2017 edition if Hunahpu’s Day takes place Saturday, March 11 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park, 601 Old Water St., Tampa, Fla.

Cigar City advises all attendees to plan on taking Uber to the event.

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2017 in Beer, Beer Festival, Beer Releases

 

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Riverside Craft Beer Festival returns with new format, plenty of beer

cupsNow in its fourth year, the Riverside Craft Beer Festival presented by the Riverside Rotary Club continues its tradition of raising funds for worthy charitable causes. This year the event will benefit Community PedsCare® a nationally recognized program of Community Hospice which provides comfort, care, and support for children with life-threatening conditions, as well as the charitable causes of the Riverside Rotary Foundation. Last year the event raised nearly $95,000.

The event began several years ago, when Chris Croft, then the president of the Riverside Rotary Club, noted that the golf tournament they had been sponsoring to raise funds was becoming stale. He tossed out the idea of a beer festival and enlisted the help of Ben Davis, a member of the club and owner of Intuition Ale Works. The idea began to grow and the club approached the organizers of the Riverside Arts Market (RAM) about using their space under the Fuller Warren Bridge as a venue for the event. RAM officials liked the idea and agreed to allowing the festival to set up under the bridge.

“In the first year,” Co-Chairperson of the festival Matt McLauchlin explained. “We only had half the space and poured the beer ourselves because the festival was an unknown quantity. Now we have all the local distributors on board.”

Over the years, the format of the festival has changed. In the first few years, guests had to purchase beer tickets. This year, for the first time, the festival is going to a one price format that allows attendees to sample as many beers as they would like for a single price. General admission tickets purchased online before the day of the event are just $36 plus handling charge. If you wait until the day of the event, tickets are $40 at the gate.  VIP tickets are also available for $50, but are only sold online and are extremely limited. VIP tickets allow access to all beers an hour before General Admission guests.

“We are ahead in ticket sales this year,” McLauchlin said. “With the weather looking like it is going to be great. It’s almost like a Chamber of Commerce event. We expect to sell out.”

This year the festival has enlisted the help of all the major beer distributors in the Jacksonville area as well as some smaller distributors and entities. According to McLauchlin, there will be more than 150 beers available to festival guests for sampling. And, as capacity warrants, more may be put on tap.

“We were talking about it the other day,” said Croft, Co-Chairperson of the event. “Our event has grown to the point that is on the radar of distributors when they are planning out their year.”

What that means is that when ordering beers throughout the year, distributors are keeping the Riverside Beer Festival in mind.

“It has become a real thing,” Croft said.

Beer at the event this year ranges from hyper-nano brews from up-and-coming local breweries like Hyperion Brewing Company and Main & Six Brewing Company to imports like Delirium Nocturnum and Straffe Hendrik. For non-beer drinkers, Harris Meadery will be at the event serving their delicious mead along with several craft hard ciders.

“There are a lot of Bourbon Barrel Aged beers this year,” Croft said. “One I am particularly excited about is Boulevard Collaboration No. 6. It’s a collaboration blended beer between Boulevard and Firestone Walker with Boulevard’s Bourbon Barrel Quad and Imperial X Stout mixed with Firestone Walker Stickee Monkee and Velvet Merkin.”

In addition to great beer, the festival will feature music from Grandpa’s Cough Medicine making a return to Jacksonville from their new home in Asheville, N.C. The band’s first set is scheduled to begin at 3:00 p.m.

To help with the inevitable beer fest munchies, several of the area’s best food trucks will be on hand serving some of their best dishes.

“I think we are in sort of a golden age of craft beer right now.” McLauchlin said. “I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I think the event has staying power.”

The Riverside Craft Beer Festival takes place Saturday, February 25. The event opens to VIP ticket holders at 3:00 p.m. and General Admission guests at 4:00 p.m. Tickets are $36 plus handling charge online and $40 at the gate for General admission. VIP tickets are only available online and are $50 plus handling charge. Online tickets can be purchased through the event website at www.riversidecraftbeerfestival.com. The event ends at 7:00 p.m.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2017 in Beer, Beer Festival

 

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8 tips to safely enjoying Hunahpu’s Day

HDAY-announcement-300x300Tomorrow in Tampa, beer-lovers from around the nation will collectively cheer as the gates to Hunahpu’s Day Beer Festival 2016 open at 11:00 p.m. Hundreds will fan out across the festival ground seeking the white whales (extremely rare beers) being poured by scores of breweries. With so much great — and high-gravity (potent) — beer being poured it is important to keep some survival tips in mind.

Here are my eight tips for enjoying beer festivals responsibly:

Tip #1: Eat something before the festival.

A carb-heavy meal will help slow down the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream. Think pasta, a burger and fries, a big steak and baked potato or even pancakes. These slow-digesting foods reduce the amount of alcohol that is absorbed directly into the blood stream through the mucous membrane lining of the stomach. Food also slows the rate of the stomach emptying into the small intestine, where absorption of alcohol occurs at a much faster rate.

Tip #2: Drink water.

Experts say that drinking eight-ounces of water for every 12-ounces of beer will help to counteract the diuretic effects of alcohol. The dreaded day-after hangover is at least partially attributable to dehydration caused by alcohol stripping water from your body. Combat this by keeping the water flowing. At a beer festival, make it a point to drink at least four-ounces of water for every four to five samples.

Tip #3: Wear sunscreen

Its Florida, the festival is outside and, even if it is overcast, that means there will be plenty of UV rays bombarding your body. Sunscreen will prevent you from burning the s*#t out of your arms, legs, the backs of your knees and most importantly if you are wearing flip flops (remember it is Florida) the tops of your feet. Just try to wear shoes at work Monday when they are blistering, I dare you.

Tip #4: Have a plan.

At events like Hunahpu’s Day where there are literally scores of beers to try, you will miss out on a lot of great beers if you do not get the lay of the land before you arrive at the fest. The fine folks at Cigar City have created a smartphone app to help out with this. Go to your App Store and search Hunahpu, then download and enjoy. Some of the best beers will be in short supply, so if you see a brewery whose beers you absolutely must try, get in their line first. But, do not pass up smaller breweries, often the next big think comes from these up and coming brewers.

Tip #5: Pace yourself.

Sure, you only have a limited amount of time to try as many beers as you can. But, remember this is a tasting event, not a drunk fest. No one likes the belligerent fool that stumbles from table to table only to get as much beer as possible. Follow the plan you made for yourself from the previous tip and enjoy tasting different beers. You will have a better time and, though you may not get to all the beers, you are likely to find some new favorites.

Tip #6: Take Notes.

Because you may find your new all-time favorite beer, keep track of the brews you drink. Nothing is worse than getting home after a festival and not being able to remember the name of that awesome brew from the brewer in West Virginia. Apps like Untappd are invaluable for festivals since they allow you to log, rate and even take a photo and take notes on the beers you try.

Tip #7: Bring cash.

Often beer fests will have food trucks, t-shirt vendors and other shopping opportunities. Do not find yourself unable to buy that must-have t-shirt or hat because the vendor only takes cash. Even if they do take credit cards, paying in cash is invariably faster, leaving you more time to taste beers.

Tip #8: Get home safe.

The best day at a beer festival can be brought to a screeching halt if you get behind the wheel of a car after drinking too much. Believe me, I know (read my experience with this beginning here). Most festivals have a lower price ticket for designated drivers that include soft drinks. If that is not an option, plan on taking a cab or even Uber (get $20 off your first Uber ride when you download the app and use promo code, “l2jkr”).

Follow these eight tips and you are sure to have a great time exploring the ever expanding world of craft beer.

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2016 in Beer, Beer Festival

 

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Riverside Craft Beer Festival opens Jax beer fest season

riverside_beer_festBeer festival season begins in Jacksonville this weekend, Saturday, February 27, with the Third Annual Riverside Craft Beer Festival. As in past years, the festival is being held under the Fuller Warren Bridge on the site of the Riverside Arts Market. In previous years, the event has drawn crowds of more than 4,000 attendees despite bad weather.

The event raises money for local charities. This year’s beneficiaries are Community PedsCare®, a pediatric program of Community Hospice, and the Riverside Rotary Foundation. Community PedsCare® is a palliative and hospice for children with life-threatening conditions. A program of Community Hospice of Northeast Florida in collaboration with Nemours Children’s Specialty Care and the University of Florida – Jacksonville, Community Peds Care offers support, comfort and care to these children.

This year the festival is doing things a bit differently, instead of purchasing beer tickets for samples of brews, the admission price includes all the samples attendees wish to try. Food from food trucks is not included, but there will be several on hand to feed the hungry crowds.  This year the festival will feature nearly 100 different beers to sample along with more than 10 food trucks.

Music for the vent will be provided by Firewater Tent Revival and Grandpa’s Cough Medicine.

General admission hours for the festival are from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., VIPs get in an hour earlier at 3:00 p.m. With their ticket, attendees receive a commemorative cup/mug to use for the event. Tickets are available online until Thursday, February 25 at http://riversidecraftbeerfest.com/. Tickets purchased online cost $35 for general admission and $50 for VIP. Tickets at the gate are $40 for general admission and $50 for VIP. In addition to getting in early, VIP guests will have an exclusive VIP area with special beers not available to general admission guests. More information is available at: https://www.facebook.com/riversidecraftbeerfest/.

Brews available to general admission guests include:

  • Terrapin Beer Co. High 5 & Liquid Bliss
  • Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits Grapefruit Sculpin & Habanero Sculpin
  • Lagunitas Brewing Co Brown Shugga & Pilsner…
  • Orange Blossom Brewing Co. Toasted Coconut & Back in the Day
  • Miami Brewing Company Shark Bait & Little Havana
  • Aardwolf Brewery Belgian Pale Ale & Styro Foam Pony
  • Zeta Brewing Brown Ale & Twinn Fin Lager
  • Intuition Ale Works Easy on the Eyes & SS Minnow
  • Veterans United Craft Brewery Grunch & Scout Dog 44
  • Green Man Brewery IPA & Porter
  • Big Storm Brewing Co. Arcus & Wavemaker
  • 21st Amendment Brewery Seasonal & He Said She Said Baltic Porter
  • Tomoka Brewing Co Oceanside IPA & Apple Tart Sour
  • Bold City Brewery Barrel Aged Dukes
  • Green Room Brewing Count Shak-U-La
  • First Magnitude Brewing Company Drift English Mild
  • Ancient City Brewing Mantanzas Red
  • Green Flash Brewing Co. Tangerine Soul Style
  • Southern Tier Brewing Company SMaSH IPA
  • Goose Island Four Star Pils
  • RJ Rockers Brewery Son of a Peach
  • 3 Daughters Brewing Stern Line Stout
  • Victory Beer Hop Ranch Imperial IPA
  • SweetWater Brewing Company Whiplash IPA
  • Kona Brewing Company Big Wave
  • Central 28 Beer Co. Trekker & Up River Ale
  • Coastal Empire Beer Co. Southern Delite & Inshore Slam IPA
  • Darwin Brewing Company Circa 1926 Tangerine Wheat & Pirata Pils
  • JDub’s Brewing Company & Tap Room Up Top IPA & Poolside Kolsch
  • Engine 15 Brewing Company Nut Sack & Old Battle Axe
  • Funky Buddha Brewery Floridian & Hop Gun
  • Cigar City Brewing Invasion Pale Ale & Tampa Style Lager
  • Barley Mow Brewing Company Quackalope IPA & Maven Chocolate Milk Stout
  • Highland Brewing Company Gaelic Ale and Saw-Wheat Saison
  • Sonoma Cider Anvil Cider & Hatchet Cider
  • Ace Cider Pineapple Cider & Perry Cider
  • Due South Brewing Hopicana & Caramel Cream 13.2
  • Uinta Brewing Pale Ale & Ready Set Gose
  • Brew Bus Brewing Last Stop IPA & You’re My Boy Blue
  • Proof Brewing Company La La Land & . . .
  • Green Bench Brewing Co. Sunshine City IPA & Happy Hermit Pale
  • Swamp Head Brewery Stump Knocker & Midnight Oil
  • Left Hand Brewing Company Mile Stout & Ambidextrous VIII Old Ale

Brews available to VIP guests include:

  • Bell’s Brewery Imperial Red
  • Intuition Ale Works a special release CASK
  • Dogfish Head Beer Higher Math
  • Engine 15 Brewing Company Double Drop
  • Engine 15 Brewing Company Mad Max
  • Cigar City Brewing Key Lime IPA
  • Uinta Brewing Flamingose Pineapple Gose
  • Proof Brewing Company Coffee Creatures in the Dark
  • Green Bench Brewing Co. Saison de Banc Vert
  • Swamp Head Brewery Hoggetown Irish Red
  • Funky Buddha Brewery Maple Bacon Coffee Porter
  • Funky Buddha Brewery Last Snow Porter
  • Coastal Empire Beer Co. Dawn Patrol
  • Central 28 Beer Co. El Bulli
  • Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
  • Goose Island Lolita
  • Green Flash Brewing Co. Cellar 3 (style TBD)
  • SweetWater Brewing Company Cranberry Brown (CASK)
  • SweetWater Brewing Company Happy Ending w/ Peppermint (CASK)

Food trucks scheduled to be on-site include:

  • Funkadelic
  • Blue Pacific Tacos
  • Delish Kebabs
  • On The Fly
  • Pele’s Wood Fire
  • Rockstar Burgers
  • Butt Hutt
  • Dagwood’s
  • Say Cheese
  • The Cupcake Truck
  • The Loving Cup

One last thing, if you attend the festival and have too much to drink, PLEASE DO NOT DRIVE! Even if you are only slightly tipsy. Read my eight-part series on what could happen if you are stopped and arrested for Driving Under the Influence. Please take a cab or Uber (use code “l2jkr” for $20 off your first Uber trip). Do not take a chance.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2016 in Beer, Beer Festival

 

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Details announced for controversial Hunahpu’s Day Festival

HDAY-announcement-300x300Cigar City, the brewery behind perhaps the most controversial annual beer festival in Florida has just announced details for the 2016 Hunahpu’s Day event. The event, to be held Saturday, March 12, 2016, celebrates the release of the brewery’s coveted Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout. Over the event’s storied history there have been many missteps, yet the event marches on.

First released in 2010, Hunahpu’s is a rich, decadent stout weighing in around 11% alcohol by volume. Described by the brewery as “An Imperial Stout aged on cacao nibs, Madagascar vanilla beans, ancho chilies, pasilla chilies and cinnamon,” the beer garnered Cigar City a  gold medal at the 2010 U.S. Open Beer Championship catapulting it to the national beer scene’s attention.

In its first year, Hunahpu’s Day was a relatively small event held in the brewery tap room. Several hundred beer-lovers gathered to taste and purchase bottles of the beer with little fanfare. But, as word of the beer spread through the beer community, demand began to grow. The beer became a hot commodity on many beer trading websites and, as bottles became more scarce, demand grew to a fever pitch.

Taking notice of the demand for the beer, the brewery planned a bigger event for the second Hunahpu’s Day in 2011. Guest breweries were invited to bring their rare and specialty beers, set up tents and offer tastes of their beers on a pay-per-pour basis. Crowds were heavy, but manageable. Except for a few scuffles over line position, the event went well enough for Cigar City to plan the same type of event for the next year.

By 2013, the hype of Hunahpu’s Day had built to such a level that hundreds – perhaps thousands — of beer aficionados queued up to get their allotment of the brew that the line ran several blocks up the street from the brewery and into a nearby shopping center parking lot. Rabid fans began lining up as early as 8:00 p.m. the night before, camping out at the gates of the brewery in order to be one of the first to sample the cornucopia of rare beers brought by breweries from all over the country. Many brought coolers and shared beer as a way to whittle away at the time.

Complaints of long lines began within the first hour or so of the event. Crowds crushed in to lines at the most popular tents creating waits of more than an hour. Often, unscrupulous guests would cut the line and walk right up to the front much to the ire of those who had been waiting in the hot Florida sun. To make matters worse, a staffing agency had been hired to provide servers who had no training on how to pour beer causing even longer waits.

After the event was over, an estimated 9,000 guests passed through the gates at Cigar City leaving over-flowing port-a-lets, mounds of trash and myriad complaints from guest who were unable to get beers they had set their minds on drinking. But, due to some quick thinking by Cigar City owner, Joey Redner who reduced bottle purchase limits from three per person to two, anyone who wanted a bottle of Hunahpu’s was able to purchase one.

The massive crowds of the past led Redner and Cigar City Brewing President Toni Derby to change the format to a ticketed event. It was also decided that the event would be limited to 3,500 attendees. Ticket holders were entitled to unlimited tastes of guest beers and guaranteed an opportunity to purchase an allotment of three bottles. When the tickets went on sale on Eventbrite, they sold out in less than two hours. In theory, by limiting the number of guests, the brewery would be better able to plan for the event and insure that there would be plenty of beer for everyone. Further, guests were to be issued a silver wristband upon entry that would be removed when they had purchased their bottles of beer. Guests were told that they could purchase their allotment of bottles any time during the day, but that at 4:00 p.m. remaining bottles would be available for purchase without limit.

Because of the popularity of the event in the past and the speed at which tickets sold out, a lively secondary market for ticket sales popped up on other online outlets such as Craigslist. Because tickets purchased on Eventbrite can be printed at home, at least one – and likely several – purchasers made copies of tickets and sold the copies online. As the counterfeit tickets began appearing at the festival gates, arguments between duped guests and ticket-takers broke out. The line to get into the event began to grow and tempers flared. A snap decision was made to open the gates to everyone. The influx of bodies filled the brewery parking lot to capacity and beer lines grew longer and longer.

Then, at 4:00 p.m. when open bottle sales began the crowd shifted from the tasting lines to the purchase lines. Thousands crowded in, vying to get extra bottles.  Many purchased the 22-ounce bottles in cases of 12. But, as the feeding frenzy escalated, it became apparent that there were many guests who still had their silver wristbands and had not been able to purchase their promised three bottles. Clashes broke out between those buying extra bottles and those trying to get their allotment.

By 5:00 p.m. the bottles sold out. Redner, looking frazzled, put his hands into the air and announced that there were no more bottles to sell and police officers moved in to close the metal bay doors. The crowd became even more agitated with several banging on the doors others chanting, “Cigar City sucks!” To many caught in the middle of the crowd, it looked as if a riot could break out.

In the end, the festival was concluded early and, as the dust settled, Redner made an apology and a promise to get Hunahpu’s to any who did not get their allotment. Later, in a statement, he said, “I am acknowledging defeat. That was the last Hunahpu’s Day. The beer will go into distribution next year and hopefully spread out among many accounts, it will get to consumers more fairly.”

But, though it looked as if Hunahpu’s Day would never happen again, Cigar City surprised consumers and announced that there would indeed be a Hunahpu’s Day 2015. But, the event would be a strictly controlled, ticketed event limited to 2,000 attendees with a ticket price of $200. Each ticket included four bottles of Hunahpu’s to be handed out as guests left the festival. They also included food and unlimited tastings of guest beers.

The event went off without a hitch.

The event in 2016 will be similar to this year’s event with the exception of the change of venue and several new ticket tiers.

According to the Cigar City website, tickets will be available in three tiers:

  • $200, includes 4 bottles of Hunahpu’s® Imperial Stout
  • $300, includes 8 bottles of Hunahpu’s® Imperial Stout
  • $400, includes 12 bottles of Hunahpu’s® Imperial Stout (exclusive to El Catador Club members only)

Tickets include:

  • Bottle allotment
  • Four (4) meal tickets for tapas-sized portions served by a dozen food vendors
  • A bottle tote bag
  • An acrylic sample glass
  • Unlimited access to drink 400+ beers from 150+ breweries from all over the world

Ticket purchase details have not been released, but the brewery promises that they will be soon. For more details and rules regarding the event, go to the Cigar City Hunahpu’s Day website.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2015 in Beer Festival

 

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Characters abound at GABF 2015

For many, dressing to attend the Great American Beer Festival is simply a matter of pulling on a pair of jeans and slipping on a favorite brewery t-shirt. And, the majority of attendees to the festival are dressed in these mundane garments garnering little to no real attention. But, for those who crave the limelight, who seek attention and who have a bit of a wild side, the dress code extends to more exotic apparel.  For those brave and outrageous souls, a mere pair of lederhosen is something an amateur would wear.  Outlandish costumes range from Where’s Waldo garb to full mascot outfits.

Here are just a few of the characters I ran into at this year’s Great American Beer Festival.

The answer to the eternal question,

the answer to the eternal question, “Where’s Waldo?” is answered; he is at GABF.

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Shark infested waters?

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Captain Hops

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Even the Brits are stylin’ at GABF.

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Bears, oh my!

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The pope may have been in Philly, but St. Arnold was in Denver.

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The kilted gang play their pipes.

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2015 in Beer Festival

 

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