It's the pilgrimage that Floridians and beer drinkers from around the country talk about every year. In the ancient days, we'd worship Ninkasi, or Silenus, or Aegir, but now, we pay tribute to the arts and sciences of craft beer. March 8th, 2014 will be the next grand pilgrimage to the land of Tampa Bay, and to Cigar City Brewing's Hunahpu's Day.
The brewery recently announced some changes to Hunahpu's Day for 2014, an event whose crowd Beer Street Journal estimated to be in excess of 8,000. For the past few years, it has been one of the most sought after events in American craft beer culture, rivaling the chilling tales of Dark Lord Day in both size and beer releases.
As their social media accounts have declared, they will be setting a maximum attendance cap at 3,500 people. Not only that, but "instead of using tickets or tokens to buy individual beers, the event will be more like a 'beerfest' and attendees will pay one flat rate to enter the fest and sample as many beers as they'd like all day [11am to 5pm]." That flat rate? $50.
Needless to say, this has caused some controversy on the interwebs, with CCB fans taking to their Facebook page to either support or decry this decision. The biggest complaint? That people just want to pay a lower price, buy their allotment, and go home.
The idea of ticketing this event has been a rumor for months, with sources saying that after last year's massive turnout, it was a case of limit the number of attendees or face the possibility of the City of Tampa shutting the event down.
For El Catador members, Cigar City's VIP beer drinkers club, there shouldn't be much of a worry of not being able to make it in to the festival, as they will receive first right of purchase. If you're a super fan of CCB and their beers, it keeps becoming the best investment you can make.
Still, for those who might want to come out and do not want to participate in an all-day sampling festival, the on-site tasting room will be open, but separate from the rest of the fest. Pints and snifters of whatever is on tap will be available on a regular a-la-carte system.
Bottles of Hunahpu's Imperial Stout, the headliner for this annual festival, will be available for purchase as is done every year, though details on bottle limit and other specifics are still being determined. It should still run for $20 a 750ml bottle as it has since its first release.
As in years past, parking will be an issue, with the old Sears & Roebuck building next door being a prime location, and various for-profit lots in the surrounding neighborhood.
Our view on the situation? As for some of the other changes, the event is a constantly changing landscape. In 2010, they did a numerical ticket system where each number was called over a PA system to tell patrons their six bottles were ready to purchase. In 2011, it changed to wristbands and an allotment of four bottles available for purchase.
For a beer festival, $50 is about average, and you generally see the same standard lineup from the beer vendors at each festival. If this year is anything like previous iterations (and there is no reason it shouldn't be), attendees will be in for a treat with some of the rarest beers in the state available for almost unlimited sampling. That could potentially make the entrance fee pennies on the dollar in value.