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Cigar City expanding distribution to North Carolina

jaialai1Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing Company is a true Florida success story. Coming from humble beginnings and crafty outstanding brews, they have grown to become one of the best-known breweries in Florida. Their annual Hunahpu’s Day Craft Beer Festival and bottle release attracts beer-lovers and brewers from around the country and even the world.

Now, the company is expanding its domestic distribution to North Carolina to grow its U.S. footprint and bring Florida-style brews like flagship Jai Alai IPA to the beer fanatics of the Blue Ridge Mountains and beyond.

Get all the distribution and launch event details in the official press release below:

TAMPA, FL & ASHEVILLE, NC – Cigar City Brewing Company Announces North Carolina
Distribution

Tampa, Florida’s Cigar City Brewing is proud to announce the addition of North Carolina to
the brewery’s distribution network. This is the second new state to receive deliveries of
Cigar City Brewing’s award-winning beer in over four years. CCB will be partnering with
numerous distribution partners to cover the state including Skyland Distributing Co.,
United Beverages of North Carolina, R.H. Barringer Distributing Company, Long Beverage
Inc., Carolina Distributing LLC, Healy Wholesale Co Inc., Atlantic Shores Distributors,
Coastal Beverage Co. and City Beverage Co Inc. Twelve ounce cans of Jai Alai IPA, Maduro
Brown Ale, Florida Cracker Belgian-style White Ale, Invasion Pale Ale and Tampa-style
Lager can currently be found in this new market with draft beer to follow shortly behind.

Market launch events will be taking place across North Carolina from March 21st thru
March 29th with numerous Cigar City Brewing representatives present, including Cigar
City Brewing’s El Lector Neil Callaghan and Brand Manager Lucas Widrick. These events
will be incredible opportunities for North Carolina’s craft beer fans to enjoy some of the
first CCB beer to be shipped to the state and to learn about Cigar City Brewing’s brand and
it’s award winning beer from the people who know it best.

Cigar City Brewing’s official North Carolina Launch Party will be taking place at Oskar
Blues’ Tasty Weasel Taproom in Brevard on Saturday, March 25th beginning at noon. This
event will feature specialty Cigar City Brewing taps, a Jai Alai-infused food special from the Oskar Blues CHUBwagon food truck and live music from South Carolina rockers The
Excons from 6-8pm.

Cigar City Brewing’s beer, including award-winning Jai Alai IPA, is now available in eight
states encompassing Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York,
Tennessee and North Carolina. Cigar City Brewing’s ales and lagers are also exported to
the country of Denmark.

Cigar City Brewing’s North Carolina Launch Events

Week of 3/20 – Raleigh
● 3/21: Tyler’s Durham
● 3/22: Raleigh Times
● 3/23: Raleigh Beer Garden

Week of 3/20 – Brevard
● 3/25: Launch party at Oskar Blues Brewery’s Tasty Weasel Taproom in Brevard

Week of 3/27 – Asheville
● 3/27: Barley’s (Asheville)
● 3/28: Creekside Tavern
● 3/29: Black Rose (Hendersonville)

Week of 3/27 – Charlotte
● 3/28: Brawley’s Beverage
● 3/29: Duckworth’s (Huntersville)
● 3/30: Pub Crawl — Harris Teeter #11, Growler USA, Kit’s Trackside Craft, The

Fillmore Charlotte (for The Flaming Lips show)

Visit Cigar City Brewing’s website [ www.cigarcitybrewing.com ] to find the CCB beer closest to
you.

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Posted by on March 22, 2017 in Beer, Beer News

 

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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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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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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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Hunahpu’s Day a joyous celebration despite some issues

hunapuhsThousands of hopeful beer enthusiasts lined up in the dark streets of Tampa, FL in the wee hours of the morning Saturday. Some brought chairs to make their wait a little more comfortable; at least one intrepid soul brought a hammock that he strung between two trees. The throngs were gathered at Cigar City Brewing Company, waiting for their chance to purchase the brewery’s annual Hunahpu’s Day to begin. All in line were there in hopes of procuring their allotment of Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout, an annually-released, and much sought after beer that is a mélange of chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, and chili peppers.

Standing in line for a big release like Hunahpu’s is a uniquely social event. Beer aficionados are a gregarious and generous bunch. While discussing the finer points of other big release brews, it is likely that someone may open up a cooler, reach inside and pull out a bottle that is promptly opened and shared. The sharing often prompts discussion of the flavors evident and the process by which the brewer elicited them from the ingredients. It seemed that everywhere one looked people were laughing, talking, and sharing good beer.

But, even at the most joyous of beer events, things go wrong. Just after dawn, the Tampa police department appeared and announced that the line, which had spilled into the parking lot of a nearby retail parking lot, had to be condensed because the retailer had complained. This prompted the gates the Brewery to be opened sooner than expected. Once inside, more lines formed for tokens that had to be used to purchase beer, and for shirts and glasses.

And then there were the beer lines. At one point, early in the day, lines were more than two hours long. These lines were not the boisterous fun lines that had defined the pre-dawn hours of Hunahpu’s Day, these were unorganized lines marred by inconsiderate cutters who merely walked to the front of the line effectively disrespecting those who were trying to follow the rules and wait patiently. The shame of it is that it could have been avoided with better planning. A few well-placed stanchions and ropes could have cut down on the line cutting and helped things to remain better organized.

Another issue that could have been handled better was the beer servers. Many were inexperienced and slow. Many guests were handed beers that were more than half foam. Others were served beers that were only partially full. But, perhaps the biggest sin of all was understaffing. The beer trailer, were some of the best and most sought after beers were being poured had only three servers and a line that grew to more than two and a half hours long.

But, issues aside, the spirit of the event was festive. Coolers full of beer brought by attendees were enthusiastically poured for others for no other reason than to share. People discussed the finer points of their favorite beers, ate food from one of the ten food trucks on hand, and socialized. Perhaps what makes an event like this so great is the social aspect. Beer, after all, has always been a social beverage. This truth has never been more evident than at an event like Hunahu’s day.

In the end, Cigar City distributed more than 10,000 bottle of the Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout. All of the wristbands they promised to hand out were distributed before the end of the line was reached, but at the end of the day, there were still bottle of the brew left for those who did not have a wristband and waited until after 5:00 p.m. The event, even with issues, was a successful celebration of craft beer that attracted folks from as far away as Sweden. If that is not an indicator of the reach and popularity of craft beer, nothing is.

 

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2013 in Beer, Beer Festival

 

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