Cigar City Brewing’s Hunahpu’s (pronounced Hoon-ah-poos) Day is the biggest craft beer event in Florida. It all started as a celebration of Cigar City’s anniversary and for the once a year release of Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout in 2010. The 8th annual event has morphed into a full-blown international craft beer festival with breweries coming from as far away as Sweden. This will be my fourth time attending. My first year was 2014, which was the year counterfeit tickets were sold. Tickets were $50.00 and offered you the chance to buy bottles of Hunahpu’s for $20.00 apiece. The crowds swelled from the ticketed 3,500 to an estimated 6000 – 8,000. The bottles of Hunahpu’s quickly disappeared, leaving a whole lot of people unhappy. I had a great time that year and left with my full allotment before things really got crazy. I was one of the lucky ones. In 2015 the setup was changed to more of a festival feel. Tickets were $200 and guaranteed you as many pours as you could consume and four bottles of Hunahpu’s. The festival went off without a hitch. The location was moved from Cigar City’s parking lot to its current home in Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park in 2016. The area of the park is spread out giving attendees a lot more room to move about. It’s a serious upgrade from Cigar City’s parking lot. Tickets were in three separate tiers. Entry to the festival and four bottles was $200, entry and eight bottles were $300, and for El Catador Club members $400 reserved 12 bottles. There were a few long lines, but overall I had a great time. This year tier prices were the same, but the third tier was available to anyone. I’m expecting another kickass time drinking absolutely incredible beer from the world’s finest breweries.
So you’ve finally decided to head to Tampa for Hunahpu’s Day. Well, there are a few things you should know. Last year we were told not to line up before 10:00 am. I showed up on time to a long ass line. I’m not sure why this surprised me. This year they say not to show up before 9:00? Well, you get the idea. The quicker you get inside, the faster you and your compatriots can hit the breweries you have listed as must haves. The last thing you want to do is rush to the 3 Sons Brewing just to find on arrival that everyone else ahead of you had the same plan. Map out your targets and each person in your group grab his or her designated pour of whatever has been deemed worthy. Designate a meeting spot and split up the booty. By that time, the crowd will be large enough that you will be waiting in your first real line.
Where it All Goes Down
601 Old Water St
Tampa, FL 33602
What Works for Me
Last year after getting the must haves out of the way a buddy and I hit a whole list of breweries with short lines and tried some amazing stuff. If people haven’t heard of a brewery, odds are that brewery’s line will be short or non-existent. For example, last year my favorite beer of the day came from the Põhjala Brewery in Estonia. I had no clue they even existed. Hell, I had no clue Estonia had a craft beer scene. I would have completely missed out if I bypassed them because I had never heard of them. Keep in mind there will be a lot of international breweries. These are the breweries that don’t distribute here and only come to the states for big time festivals so odds are you won’t see them again.
By now you should have received your wristband in the mail. DO NOT take it out of the box and tighten it to your wrist. The last thing you want to do is risk damaging the RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification). Please make sure you register the wristband and if you plan on spending a few dollars on t-shirts or other merch connect your credit card to the wristband. Not only will cash not be accepted in the festival but not having to access and swipe your credit card makes the line move faster. Also come prepared with a driver’s license, passport, or military ID. You will not be allowed in without both your ID and corresponding wristband.
Register your wristband here.
Connect a credit card here.
To Drive or Not to Drive
Do not drive to downtown Tampa! I don’t say this because you will be drinking all day, which on its own is a Good enough reason. I say this because downtown Tampa will be absolutely swamped with people. There is a Tampa Bay Lightning game, a Fun Run, St. Patrick’s Day parade, and music festival all within three miles of Hunahpu’s. What I’m saying is there will be no parking available at all whatsoever. Cigar City says there will be a deal worked out with Uber, but those details have yet to be released.
There’s an App for That
Cigar City has released an app specifically for the festival for both Apple and Android. You can use the app to view the breweries, beer, the map of the festival, and vote for your favorite beer and brewery. Before the festival you can peruse the beer list and add your must haves to the apps wish list.
What to and Not to Bring
There are a few things you can and a few things you can’t bring into the festival. The following items can be brought inside. Suntan lotion, plastic or metal refillable water bottles and backpacks/purses are allowed inside the festival. Bags will be subject to search on entry and water filling stations will be available in designated areas. No children, pets, weapons, chairs, tents, coolers, or glass is allowed within the festival grounds. Outside alcohol will not be allowed inside the park and Cigar City strongly suggests against drinking in line or in any other public areas. There will be plenty of beer available inside and at the number of beer shares around town following the festival.
Just down the street from the festival grounds sits the Marriott Waterside Hotel at 700 South Florida Avenue. Bottle pick-up will be held there between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm. Do not enter the hotel through the lobby. The line for bottle pickup will be through the Riverwalk entrance. You will need your wristband for pick-up. You can leave the festival at any time, pick-up and drop your bottles off at your hotel, and return to the festival using your wristband for re-entry.
There are a number of shares going on after the festival throughout the area. Here are a few I’m aware of. The Westin Tampa Waterside, Tampa Marriot Waterside Hotel, and the Howard Johnson’s Hotel on Dale Mabry. Typically the shares will start at the hotel pool until the staff moves everyone inside due to the closure of the pool for the night. Odds are if you’re staying in a hotel listed on the Hunahpu’s site there will be a share in your hotel. If not, you now know where to go. You’re welcome!
I hope you have found the information above useful. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask. Let me know how you enjoyed your weekend in Tampa. I would love to hear about your experience. You can read about last year’s festival here.