travel guide: cigar city brewery
about a week after Cigar City Brewey's Hunahpu's Day, a debaucherous celebration for the father of the Mayan hero twins... blah blah blah, basically it's a self described "lot of people drinking, eating and having a good time," and about a week later, our tour guide, Bob, is still recovering. Next week we're booking it a week early. For the record, Hunahpu Day was March 9th.
In just a handful of years Cigar City Brewery has landed in a coveted niche of top craft breweries and lucky for us it's located in Tampa, just a short car ride away. Even luckier is what goes on a Cigar City, not only do you get their very popular Jai Alai and Maduru brews, both named and inspired by local Tampa Cuban culture, but they have a tasting room full of brews that never leave those four walls. At Cigar City Brewery, they make beer for fun.; it partially explains why they can't keep up with the demand from either instate or out-of-state craft enthusiasts, the Jai Alai flys off the shelves and the small batch beers go faster than Tickle Me Elmos. But over at Cigar City, they aren't taking any of this too seriously, they're making beer for fun, sharing it only in their tasting room, with their friends, and the locals who, one gets the feeling, spend a very decent amount of time at this bar.
Our tour started at 11 AM, there's not much in the way of clear and detailed memories to share past about noon when we hit the tasting room, but here's the gist of a trip to Cigar City Brewery.
Hopefully you get Bob as a guide. Bob has the best job in the world and he knows it. He lets you vote on which of the beers you want to try midway through the process - beer doesn't taste great until it's been carbonated, he teased the guy with the Grateful Dead shirt on, he told us what we missed on Hunahpu Day, he let us sniff and taste the various natural ingredients that go into making beer (hops, wheat, chocolate, barley) and he gave us the run down on how Cigar City works. And no, it didn't used to be located in Ybor City, it's always been where it is on West Spruce Street, but recently they expanded into the adjacent warehouse and added on a canning facility because what can be better for a Florida beer company than the perfect boat day craft beer in a can? Nada.
All together the tour took no longer than 45 minutes, and that's what's really impressive about Cigar City - there isn't much to see. This is a beer that wins national awards, that friends from other states try and get me to sneak them, and it all goes down in a place you can thoroughly tour in 45 minutes.
Back at the tasting room, you can try flights of beers you can only have there: a cafe con leche stout, a Cuban espresso brown, a sour kumquat beer, the Humidor serier IPA. Then, head outside for tacos from the truck and head back inside for more beer. Can't really tell you more about Tampa because we ended up passing out, heading across the street to Cheesecake Factory and then going back to sleep in a beer induced coma.
I've heard next time I should go to Bern's Steakhouse. But that'll have to be next time.
3924 w spruce street, tampa