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Monday, Oct 20, 2014
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The Sip: Botched Hunahpu’s Day brings out worst in beer fans

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“See, this is why we can’t have nice things.”

Tampa Tribune business reporter Rich Mullins nailed the situation perfectly the other day when he joked about the botched release last weekend of Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout by Cigar City Brewing.

The fifth-annual release of Hunahpu’s on March 8, a date craft beer lovers circle on the calendar each year at the end of Tampa Bay Beer Week, turned into a fracas when a mass of counterfeit tickets caused the brewery to run out of its limited-release stout.

Combine that with customers who went back for extra helpings exceeding their quota and CCB had a small mob of angry beer drinkers who paid $50 apiece to be one of 3,500 people allowed access to the beer. By the end of the day, the brewery ran out of the 6,000 glasses it was distributing.

Before the day was over, a video was posted on YouTube of owner Joey Redner and Tampa police trying to calm customers chanting “Cigar City sucks” as the brewery struggled to close its warehouse doors. The YouTube video posted by Ricky Peterika had more than 17,000 views by midweek.

Redner wisely offered refunds and free beer the next day and said there would be no more Hunahpu’s Day releases. The beer instead will go into wide release.

Reaction on craft beer websites was predominantly sympathetic to Redner and CCB.

“The bad stuff that happened was because a few thousand people lied, cheated and stole their way into an event that was supposed to bring the community together,” Sean Nordquist wrote on Beer for the Daddy. “They are the ones who deserve your scorn and vitriol.”

At TheFullPint.com, Robb D wrote, “I swear, the craft beer scene is beginning to resemble a crowd of angry moms raging to get their Beanie Babies.”

Some speculated the melee was a stunt by Redner to generate publicity for the brewery — as if one of the world’s best craft brewers needs the negative headlines. Others saw a sinister plot by other brewers to take the skyrocketing CCB down a peg.

What concerns me is that this fracas happened while regulation of craft beer is very much in play in the Florida Legislature. Those lobbying against the operation of brewery tasting rooms as well as opponents of growler containers growing to 64 ounces now have fresh video to show during testimony in Tallahassee and across the country.

Want an answer to “Why can’t we have nice things?”

Look at the video.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH

“It was a craft-beer wasteland down here. Now, we’re possibly the hottest state in America.”

— Jeremy Joerger, founder of JDubs Brewing Co. in Sarasota, in the Philly.com story “Real baseball and — finally — real beer at spring training in Florida.”

BOOZY TWEETS

Stop saying, “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.” I don’t need Jimmy Buffett’s approval to practice alcoholism. — @QuinnK

Is wine country a real country and do they have a president and can I be the president? — @hadzilla

Whiskey should always come with a couch. — @joshgondelman

FARMER’S GIN WINNER

Congratulations to Jessica DeHaza, bartender at Mandarin Hide in St. Petersburg, for winning the Farmer’s Organic Gin Farm to Bar cocktail competition Monday night at her home bar. Her Chai Kwon Do cocktail mixed Farmer’s with vanilla almond milk, chai tea and lemon juice won her a $500 prize. Also among the top finishers in the all-St. Petersburg bartending competition were Tony Finotti of Mandarin Hide, Pete Ketchum of Yard of Ale and Alex Barranco of Moscato’s Bella Cucina.

jhouck@tampatrib.com

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