In Georgia, the beers from Cigar City Brewing are much talked about, but rarely seen. Although the brewery plans to begin distribution in the state very soon, the only ways to get your hands on a bottle of their brew currently are to either trade with someone who lives within their distribution network or go directly to the source yourself-which is precisely what I did. For the second year in a row, Cigar City held Hunahpu’s Day for the release of their imperial stout. Available only at the brewery, Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout attracts quite a number of avid beer drinkers, who come to sample it and other Cigar City beers and eventually take home up to four bottles of the coveted stout brewed with Peruvian cacao nibs, Ancho and Pasilla chiles, Madagascar vanilla beans, and cinnamon.
This year’s Hunahpu’s Day was held on March 12, at the brewery in Tampa. I traveled down for the weekend with a group of others from the Athens craft beer community to see the brewery and get my own bottles to bring home. While the festivities didn’t begin until 11am, the line outside the brewery formed early…very early (the first person arrived around 5:30 Saturday morning). Once the gates opened, however, a full day of beer, food, and music began. In addition to Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout, there were limited and barrel-aged offerings from Cigar City as well as beers from a few other local breweries. Some local homebrew clubs even had tents set up to offer free samples of their members’ brews. A variety of local caterers and restaurants fed the hungry crowd with an assortment of eclectic cuisine. Over the course of the day, I was able to try more beers than I’ll even attempt to comment on, but here are a few of the highlights:
Peach IPA – Cigar City’s Jai Alai IPA already offers subtle hints of peach and apricot flavors from the several varieties of hops added to it but this ups the fruit flavor with the addition of actual peaches to the beer, adding aroma and flavor of fresh peaches while still maintaining enough of a hop bite to be a satisfying India Pale Ale.
Red Wine Barrel-Aged Sea Bass – One of the barrel-aged versions of a Cigar City release that were on tap, this takes the tart dark farmhouse-style ale made with wild yeast from St. Somewhere Brewing and adds another level of rich complexity.
Red Wine Barrel-Aged Vuja De – Another wild ale using yeast from St. Somewhere with black currants, hibiscus, elderberry flowers and lemon leaves added, the dark fruit flavor from aging in red wine barrels helps create subtle hints of mulled wine to contrast the bright fruits and sour of the base beer.
Funky Buddha Maple Bacon Porter – From a brewpub in Boca Raton, this is perhaps the most complete breakfast beer I’ve ever had. Smoked and roasted malt to lend bacon and coffee flavors with sweetness from maple syrup to balance it all out.
Peg’s Cantina Bloody Berliner Weisse – This is an amazingly creative brew from Cigar City’s Production Manager, Doug Dozark, who is the brewmaster at Peg’s Cantina & Brewpub in Gulfport. The tang of a Berliner Weisse went surprisingly well with the addition of tomatoes. Hints of peppercorn helped complete the ode to a bloody mary that was so refreshing and drinkable, I wish I could begin each day with a pint.
Check out all of my photos from Hunahpu’s Day here.