Cigar City Brew Tour [East Coast Road Trip]
So it was the final day of our trip. I knew I had to go back to Cigar City and do a proper brew tour, get some more swag and do a tasting. I know, I know. All brew tours are the same. Once you’ve done one you’ve done them all. But I like to hear the back story and some of the nuances that make each brewery different. Plus the free beer doesn’t hurt, either.
First off, our tour guide was hilarious, and extremely helpful. After hooking us up with booties (no open-toed shoes allowed) he told us about how the brewery started, some of the huge limitations that are put on craft brewers in the state of Florida and gave us a chance to smell some of the various spices and wood used in aging their beers. Naturally, the Hunahpu spices smelled AMAZING.
After the intro he took us around to the the various other spots in the brew house, but two stuck out the most. The first was the fridge, where I learned that during the release of Marshal Zhukov’s Imperial Stout (which is the base of Hunahpu) they use their large refrigerator to host a 60 seat Russian themed dinner, complete with Russian food and Russian themed hats, in the middle of Florida’s ridiculous hot summer. Not a bad way to cool down. The other part that stood out was the area where they were barrel aging. Pretty cool to see written on the sides of the barrels all of the barrel aged beers they have in the hopper. I wouldn’t mind seeing some of these hitting up the Luekens Liquors website.
After the tour was done we talked to the tour guide for a while, explained to him who we were and where we were from, and asked some recommendations for what to taste while we were there and what to bring home to friends. Like I said, he was extremely helpful. We headed to the bar to have a couple of flights and decide what souvenirs we were gonna pick up. The bourbon barrel-aged Big Sound was absolutely phenomenal. The regular Big Sound Scotch Ale is honestly a little too sweet for me and the bourbon barrel aging really cuts some of that and makes it an overall better beer. Elise absolutely fell in love with the El Murciélago, a really interesting, high ABV cream ale aged with with lime peel and cumin aged in tequila barrels. We picked up a bottle of that, a bottle of the non-bourbon Big Sound, and a huge gallon growler of their most popular beer, Jai Alai IPA. (There’s a reason that they sell half gallon growlers every where else in the country. This thing was basically bottomless and took about a hour and a half to kill between the bunch of us when I did a Cigar City tasting at The Ruck when we got back.)
Overall Cigar City is an amazing brewery doing some pretty crazy stuff with their beer. The kinda of crazy that I like, unlike some of the crazy shit some other unnamed breweries out there are doing. Hopefully the next time I’m around I’ll be able to coincide my visit with another one of their big releases again.