We don’t currently get Cigar City Brewing here in St. Louis. What that means is that we have a lot of loyal fans of CCB that make the trek to Tampa, Florida to get some of their elusive beer. One beer that people wait all year for is Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout. Similar to Perennial’s Abraxas, Hunapu is a Imperial Stout made with ancho chilis, cocoa nibs, and cinnamon.
Like a lot of breweries now, Cigar City throws a party to celebrate the release of the beer. Like a lot of breweries, they’re experiencing some growing pains when it comes to these parties. Needless to say, this year did not go great.
A few of our regulars visited the party and gave their opinions of the festival on the STL Hops forums. I thought they provided a nice little local perspective on the event. Here are a few excerpts:
I got there about 10:45 and the line was fairly long already, and got inside about 11:45. I can say at that time you could walk right up and buy Hunahpu with little to no wait. I didn’t, I went and start sampling beers for the next 45 minutes. TG, Wakefield, Funky Buddha, had very long lines, but others, including CCB Hunahpu had a 2-5 person wait. All the “rare” beers were getting tapped at 1pm and locations were marked on the tents with signs. As the time got closer to 12:30, I saw the DB Hunah line had started and was 30-40 people deep, so I started to wait for the tapping of Ghost of Hunahpu, and was 2nd in line.
Around 1:30 I got in what was sort of a line for Hunahpu (there seemed to be 2-3 lines that converged as you got closer to the tables where it was being sold) and after about an hour got my 3 bottles. It was crowded and slow moving but everyone seemed to be moving forward and getting their bottles and moving on. I took my bottles back to the hotel and came back and sampled more beer and scoped the area and saw it was a sea of people and figured I wasn’t going to bother standing in that crowd to buy more, so went around and did more sampling.
It was definitely crowded overall, and some of the breweries had huge lines to get their beers, and a lot of the stuff I wanted to try had run out before I could try it, but still had a good time with stl hops folks and other people I’ve met via trades who were there in person.
we got there at 11:15 and were greeted by a line of unimaginable length and i mean that literally. after taking a survey of the queue and seeing the number of people already inside it was easy to see there was a major problem.
it took us 1 h 45 m to get inside and my mind was already made up to scrap any sampling, purchase my hunahpu allotment, and get the hell out of dodge. this decision was a bit easier for me to make having lived in tampa from 1998 – 2010 and being a regular in the ‘cigar city scene’ if you will.
anywho, the weather was spectacular, it was great to meeting fellow stlhop regulars warren & tripple hops at the airport on the way down to tampa, and bumping into paul mcgrew while in line at cigar city
lastly, standing in line for that amount of time really made me appreciate how well we do ‘beer thingies’ here in saint louis. from the organizers, to the brewers/breweries, and all the attendees we have a pretty damn good thing going here
I heard people who got there at 10:30 were inside within 5 minutes. We showed up a little bit after Stephen (above poster) and the line wrapped around the block (going a different direction so it didn’t go into the Home Depot lot). We got in *just* before 1pm when a lot of special beers went on tap. The lines for beers were nuts and really in no sort of order as they just had long tables with taps so it was a huge mass of people. I managed to get JW’s Miami Madness, most likely out of sheer luck.
I’m sure I probably cut in front of people, but like I said, it was not easy to tell what was a line. A good chunk of the beers I drank during the day really only came because I’m lucky enough to have friends who let me back behind the taps. Even with that I counted around 12 beer samples, not a great bang for $50.
I watched one fight break out and two more almost happen, one because a guy rightfully called out a dude who hopped in line when we finally got to the front and this guy was ready to go at him. It only takes a few douchebags to ruin an event and there were definitely a few around. It was past 4pm (when the case limit started) when I finally got to the front so I just grabbed a case and cleared.
Be certain to check out the entire thread on the STL Hops forums. There is a lot of great discussion about the day.
It’s very cool to see Cigar City come out right away and admit their faults and try and make everyone whole. That’s what the craft beer community is about. What it’s not about is acting like children when you don’t get what you want, something a lot of us (including myself on occasion) have done.
It’s just beer, the world will continue to turn even if we don’t get that super special rare release. Just remember that next time you miss out on something.