Admittedly, I debated all week whether or not to attend yesterday's Hunahpu's release party at the Cigar City brewery. The potential of fighting through massive crowds, minimal amounts of parking, and an hour and a half drive from Orlando all contributed to that skepticism. Thank the moon and sun I decided to go! Any concerns I had never materialized and enough good things can't be said about the beer, the event, and the people who were there.
There had been a lot of talk about getting in line early to insure the right to purchase this highly coveted beer. Most craft breweries make their own version of an Imperial Stout but none of them are like Hunahpu's. The gates were scheduled to open at 11:00 am and there were stories about folks showing up before dawn to make sure they were first in line. Figuring this was part of the experience, I got there around 9:30 am to find about 400 others had the same idea .
The wait in line was part of the fun. There were some folks enjoying AM beers and others pacing themselves with coffee or energy drinks. I got to talk to some really cool people and the hour and a half wait went by quickly. Sharing stories of other big beer releases, concerts, and travel experiences makes time go by fast! Event security came through the line around 10:30 am and gave everyone their wristbands. This sped the process up significantly. We were inside within a few minutes once 11:00 came around.
There were too many great beers inside to choose from with at least four different tap stations as well as the tasting room serving a truckload of great beers. I had my heart set on starting off with a Founder's Breakfast Stout and luckily was able to get some before it ran out. Cigar City provided a very detailed map of the event that included when and where beers were being poured. The lines for the beers were all very long the entrire day. Especially for the highly anticipated tappings of the Three Floyd's Dark Lord and barrel aged version. But hey, you could have just brought your own beer if you wanted to!
For me, the fact that it was encouraged to bring and share your own beer was the highlight of the day. There were numerous times when random strangers came up to me and filled my glass with a tasty brew that I hadn't heard of. Very cool stuff! The sun started getting pretty hot around noon which made drinking some of the bigger beers a little rough. Most people didn't seem to be phased by the heat though and continued sipping on stouts and porters well into the hot afternoon.
I was finally able to pick up my 2 bottles of Hunahpu's Imperial Stout around 5:00 pm. It was a great day to be a craft beer drinker in Florida! It was reported that about 5,000 people attended this year and I'm pretty sure that practically all of them walked away happy. And they will be even happier when they either drink or trade their beer!
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