On Saturday, March 11, thousands of beer fanatics descended upon Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park in downtown Tampa for the 8th Annual Hunahpu’s Day® presented by Cigar City Brewing (Tampa). Estimated attendance was around 4000. Add 140 of the most respected and sought-after breweries from across the U.S. and around the world. Combine that with a bright blue sky along the Tampa Riverwalk. It all added up to an amazing afternoon in celebration of beer. Tickets to the event were already sold out. People travelled from all over the country to attend the beerfest which also featured the annual bottle release of Cigar City Brewing’s well-known and highly touted Hunahpu’s® Imperial Stout. This writer attended the fest, as did a number of beer enthusiasts from the Jacksonville area. Two Jacksonville breweries, Aardwolf Brewing and Intuition Ale Works, were among the breweries represented at the five-hour fest. Below is an excerpt from this writer’s recap story on brewnymph.com, which followed up a preview story a week earlier. …
If you’re asking who or what Hunahpu is and what Hunahpu’s Day is all about, first take a look at the preview story from last week for the background info and a “before” look at how this [first time fest attendee] prepared for what is likely the most well-known beerfest in all of Florida (with a reputation beyond state lines as well).
Upon arrival at the scene (pre-10 am), much of the crowd was already assembled in the designated “holding” area adjacent to Amalie Arena across the street from the park after having their pre-paid wristbands scanned. A pretty docile-looking bunch, or maybe they just weren’t quite awake yet, as many were probably out enjoying Tampa Bay Beer Week events the night before. [videos]
Meanwhile (still pre-11am), in the upstairs ballrooms at the neighboring Marriott Waterside Hotel, crews were busy loading and unloading the precious boxes of Hunahpu’s® Imperial Stout that the revelers would claim as part of their tickets.
Beer tasting was organized under four long, large tents and a separate draft truck featuring all Cigar City Brewing beers. Each brewery had its own table, with overhead signage, and each space was separated by small white picket fences (added to the ambience). The breweries offered a number of different styles, from Blonde Ale to Doppelbock to Berliner Weisse to IPA to one of my favorite styles, Imperial Stout. A merchandise tent was positioned in the center of the venue, and food trucks lined the street. Groups of portable restrooms were set in between the food trucks and the beer tents.
I stopped at the Aardwolf Brewing (Jacksonville) table and spent some time chatting about beer with Lance and Preben. Aardwolf also racked up a couple of medals at last week’s Best Florida Beer (to go with a few it already had). This is one of Jax’s favorites, and no wonder with all of the creativity that flows here (for more background info, see the anniversary story from last year on brewnymph.com). Aardwolf brought four beers, including its Rum Barrel Aged White Russian Imperial Stout, Eater of Dreams Fruited & Foeder Aged Dark Sour, Must be the Peaches Berliner Weisse, and Hop Oddity #5 Hazy IPA. I put some puckering peaches in my glass. Preben must have been curious as to what was going on, as he got in on the photobomb:
[more brewery visits]…
But, this was a fest hosted by Cigar City Brewing, after all! In addition to the CCB draft truck which offered a number of CCB beers, the namesake Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout was also pouring at several other tents. The Strawberry Creamsicle IPA (7.5 ABV) was another of my favorites. The beer doesn’t really need a description, because the name says it all! The 2017 Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout (11 ABV) displays intense chocolate flavor, along with espresso, and notes of cinnamon and vanilla. I found that this year’s version brings the heat, with ample chili on the back. It’s one to savor.
Cheers to Cigar City Brewing for an amazing afternoon. Fest entry included four tickets for tapas-portioned foods from a number of food trucks which offered a wide selection of different items. With 4000 people in one place, the venue handled it, and even with temperatures in the mid-80’s, everyone seemed pretty cool. While some additional seating may have been welcome, it was a fest made for exploring the many beers.
Some were still claiming their 4, 8, or 12 bottles of “Huna” as the fest came to an end.
For the full story, with additional text, photos and videos, please visit brewnymph.com.
Linda Johnson, Certified Cicerone®
Covering Florida’s Beer Scene … Florida Somewhere
(all photos by Linda Johnson)