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Hunahpu's Day 2018 Scores with Change of Venue and Layout

March 14, 2018: 
With Raymond James Stadium looming in the background, Cigar City Brewing hosted its 9th annual Hunahpu's Day® beerfest celebrating the release of its Hunahpu's® Imperial Stout in Tampa on Saturday, March 10, 2018. 

The change in venue this year at Parking Lots 5 and 7 on the stadium grounds also set itself up for an entirely new layout, providing six oversized beer tents, a food truck area with around 15 food trucks, large tented shaded areas with picnic tables, water bottle stations, a brewers' area, and a Jameson whiskey-tasting tent. The day might have been a bit cooler and cloudier than expected, but it didn't seem to make a difference to the few thousand beer geeks there to sample beers from around 175 breweries.  

Once again this year, admission to the sold-out fest was by pre-purchased wristband, which included allotments of Hunahpu's Imperial Stout in quantities of either 4, 8 or 12 bottles, available for pickup at Cigar City Brewing's brewery and tap room a short distance away on Spruce Street. 

Even before the fest started on Saturday, locals and visitors alike were in town for Tampa Bay Beer Week (see recaps on this site from FBG Fest and Best Florida Beer held the weekend before). A stop at Cigar City Brewing on Friday night revealed the new logo on the signage: 






Inside, a number of ticketholders claimed their bottles and found some time to sip on a beer or two:







The next morning, the crowd began to gather in front of the festival gate across from the stadium well before the general admission opening time of 11am. 






The crowd grew between 10-11am, as the gate "holding area" was extended on one side (it was a wide area!):



Of course, that seemed like a good time to get right on that front line and get up close and personal:




And, looking at things from the fest tents toward the gate line, it all looked pretty calm before 11am.




Yeah, we all knew what was coming. If you were at Huna Day last year, you knew that once 11am struck, it would be a crazy entry, and this was probably better than last year:




After I posted that video on social media, there were quite a few comments. No, I'm not sure why they were running, except that they wanted to get certain beers first. Maybe they just wanted to be part of the experience, or maybe they just wanted some additional exercise (no, that last one's probably not it). Needless to say, it's all pretty funny and harmless stuff, and although a hat parted ways with its owner, it was simply a fun way to start things off. Of course, for those who didn't want to participate in the running of the beer geeks, entry was still easy enough either near the back or on the side of the initial spectacle. And, don't let that opening crowd scare you, the layout of the fest provided wide open areas to move around and accommodate the cast of thousands in search of elusive beers without that shoulder-to-shoulder-I-really-want-to-get-to-know-you-better type of thing that can be found at some fests. 



But, let's back up a bit. What about preparation? Organizers of Huna Day had strongly suggested reviewing the Huna Day app available on Guidebook before arriving on the scene. Good idea -- as the breweries (I counted at least 170 breweries, with generally two beers each, with a few exceptions) and the beers (there were a few changes) were listed, along with fest info and a fest map. Pretty handy stuff:





Breweries were listed alphabetically along with their locations under Tents, A, B, C, D, E, or F. So, the beer geeks running from that entry line may have targeted certain breweries. And, what about that beer? While barrel-aged beers accounted for what seemed to be at least half of the beers if not more, there were plenty of non-barrel-aged selections, from Berliners to Porters/Stouts to IPAs, even for someone like me who was more interested in the non-BA side of things. If you wanted stouts, there were a lot of stouts -- and to make things even more hearty, lots of Imperial Stouts! I even made a list of breweries I wanted to try to visit, but it was impossible to get to all of them.




Other preparations included my usual bag of oyster crackers, and many attendees had the infamous pretzel necklaces. And, always, wear comfortable shoes, as there is a lot of walking! I wish I had my pedometer. The map indicated water stations at several areas of the fest. Last year, huge water coolers were on site to refill water containers, but this year, pallets of water bottles were available, and keeping an extra on hand at all times was a good idea. 



Entrance included the commemorative fest cup and four tickets for food items from the food trucks. No cash passed hands at the fest, and having the food tickets made things easy and convenient. Different types of foods, from pizza, poke bowls, tacos, to BBQ, were available. 

Cigar City Brewing had two tents, East and West, along with a table in Section A, which poured the 2018 Hunahpu's Imperial Stout, variants, and other CCB beers. 



And, the first pour of 2018 Hunahpu's Imperial Stout! 


This was taken before the 11am entry.
There may have been a refill on that.
With all of those beer enthusiasts entering at 11am, one might think that was the tone of the day. However, with the open layout and space, it was very easy to move from one tent to another and to the food trucks. For the most part, with all of breweries pouring beer and with so many choices, lines were low -- with a few exceptions. While I never waited in line more than 6 people deep, and mostly no line at all, some folks chose the opposite approach, as several breweries saw long lines for a few hours, including J. Wakefield Brewing, 3 Sons Brewing (which poured at two tables), Toppling Goliath, and Angry Chair. Some of those in line were there for a specific beer, but others seemed to have no clue why they were there (just along for the ride with friends!). Those waiting for J Wakefield beers were in good spirits, and most had a beer in hand for the duration: 





A few for Westbrook

Gotta give a shout-out to the music, too! While mostly foot-stomping country, there were quite a few beer songs: "I like beer," and more. Had to laugh, because there was beer everywhere, even in the airwaves!


At the Jameson tent, new this year
 Plenty of space to wander around in between beer tents:




This beerfest brings in breweries from all across the country (and even beyond), which gives everyone a chance to try different beers from not only Florida, but from places seen in magazines and in the social media circles. One of the beers with one of the longer names and lists of flavors had to be the "Imperial Smells Like Bean Spirit Cafe Con Leche," an Imperial Breakfast Stout with coffee, maple syrup, lactose and dulce de leche by Mikerphone Brewing (Chicago area): 





Or, at the opposite end of the spectrum, the pink fruity and floral "Boss Bird" Hazy Hibiscus Session IPA, brewed at Swamp Head Brewery in Gainesville for International Women's Collaboration Brew Day:




All kinds of beers, all different colors. I broke with my tradition of starting with lighter beers this time, and went straight for the stouts and Imperial Stouts. Yeah, I needed a "lighter" break in the middle there!

But, I managed to find my share of stouts. Like the Snickerdoodle White Russian Imperial Stout from Aardwolf Brewing (Jacksonville):

Lance of Aardwolf Brewing pouring a beer for a guest
(I was off to the side with my Snickerdoodle).
And, Kevin keeping things right.
Caught up with Gabe from GrassLands Brewing (Tallahassee), who I've known for a long time, but hadn't seen in a while:


That's a Rollin Oat to Flavortown (BA Maple Coffee Oatmeal Stout).
What's that about not looking for BA beers? This one was awesome.
Great seeing Gabe again. And, that GrassLands photobomber, too....

Part of Hunahpu's Day is the fan-voted awards for the top three Best Brewery and Best Beer awards. None other than CCB's Joey Redner to make those announcements around 3pm:



And, the winners: 

Best Beer: Third: Mack House, Big Mack Imperial Stout; Second: Garagiste Meadery, Madeira Barrel Aged Mead X; and First: Proof Brewing, Raspberry Evil Kiss

Best Brewery: Third: 3 Sons Brewing; Second: Garagiste Meadery; and First: Proof Brewing

Proof Brewing (Tallahassee) with the Double First Place Awards.
I don't think they ever get tired of that, though.
They picked up a few medals at Best Florida Beer last week.
Handshakes and congrats everywhere!


There was still time for more beer, although a few tables had gone empty by that time.


By 4pm, a number of diehards were still standing (?), and within the hour, picnic tables had emptied out. 




I found my last beer before last call from Sun King Brewery (Indiana): SKB IPA.


The 2018 edition of Hunahpu's Day was attendee-friendly with a spacious layout that spread out the crowd among several beer tent sections. It was easy to get from point to point, and there aren't too many fests that feature over 170 breweries. Last year's fest may have provided a more picturesque background on the river, but the venue was stretched to capacity (and maybe beyond), with some of those trees taking a bit of a hit, especially where a few of those longer lines tended to form. This year's venue and layout eliminated any over-crowding, and as far as those instances where beer lines were longer, there was still ample space. The layout included a number of restroom stations at various locations throughout, and more is always better.

Cheers to Cigar City Brewing and the 9th Annual Hunapu's Day! It was a big score with the venue and layout. I think the Hunahpu brothers approved. 


Huna Day 2018 was one awesome fest, from the layout to the beer. If you don't know the background of Hunahpu's Day, see last year's recap on this site. Nice work, CCB!

Hey, Florida beerfest season may be winding down, but there are still a few beerfests on the calendar, along with more special beer events ... See you at one (or more) of those with a beer around Florida Somewhere!

Cheers!
Til next time, 

Linda 

Linda Johnson,
Certified Cicerone®

(all photos and videos by Linda Johnson)

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