March 8, 2014, is a date that will live in craft beer infamy as the day that Hunahpu’s Day nearly died. In only its fourth year, the 2014 Hunahpu’s Day was supposed to be one of the “best” rare and exotic beer fests, not only in Florida, but in the world. After growing from a relatively small, four-hour, tasting room event in 2010 to a behemoth, estimated 9000, toilet-overflowing nightmare in 2013, the 2014 Hunahpu’s Day was supposed to be amazing…and we were there.
Although the 2014 Hunahpu’s day was supposed to be capped at 3500 tickets with $20 bottles of Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout, the counterfeit tickets and fence jumpers caused near riots and Cigar City lost so much money that most small breweries would shutter their doors. The days that followed saw Cigar City do everything in its power to make everything “right” and all future Hunahpu’s Days to be cancelled…until the next year.
In fact, Hunahpu’s Day was resurrected in 2015, but with a steep price tag. At $200 a pop, there would be no more rioting to buy inexpensive bottles of rare beer, no more counterfeit ticketing. There would be changes, stricter ticketing policy, and every ticket would include four bottles of Hunahpu, food, and unlimited sampling of beer. Hunahpu was resurrected into an all-inclusive event…and we weren’t coming within a mile of it!
After seeing that Hunahpu’s Day could run smoothly, we took a chance this year and purchased tickets. Yes, we paid…we paid dearly. Was it worth it? We’ll see. Was it better than the fiasco we experienced in 2014? Absolutely. Did we taste some phenomenal beer? Ohhhhh yeah….
From this year’s Hunahpu’s Day, my favs & recommendations in no particular order…
(Breweries that made my list from the Florida Brewers Guild fest have not been repeated, even though I visited their station and still love them.)
Playalinda Brewing Company‘s Key Lime Slice Ale
*a lighter abv (4.2%) blonde ale with with a delightful tartness and subtle sweetness that is truly like a slice of key lime pie in a glass.
There’s no wonder why this was one of the first beers to run out at Hunahpu’s Day.
Availability: Apparently, at the brewery in Titusville, this beer comes in a whipped cream rimmed glass. Obviously, I need to plan a trip to Titusville!
Calusa Brewing‘s Barrel Aged Imperial Dissonance
*a rich 11.5%abv bourbon barrel aged brown ale brewed with coffee and cinnamon that may very well put Calusa on everyone’s radar.
Availability: Like is usually my luck, this one is only available at the brewery. However, I like visiting Sarasota, and now, I have one more reason to head to the beach!
5 Rabbit Cerveceria‘s El Inigo Montoya
*a relatively low abv (8.2) from their Loteria series of small barrel aged beers. This Imperial Porter with dulce de leche and Costa Rican coffee (Yodo Con Leche) is barrel aged in Wild Turkey barrels and had my husband practicing his Spanish all afternoon.
Availability: Apparently, this may be the Chicago equivalent of Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout and difficult to get my hands on, unless I’m at the brewery when it’s pre-sold and distributed.
Carton Brewing‘s Caffe Corretto Cream Ale
Atlantic Highlands, NJ
*a 12%abv golden Imperial Cream Ale that has been “finished with fennel, licorice, and anise.” A simpler way to put it is that it’s a typical acidic blonde coffee ale with notes of cream and sugar and an ever-so-slight touch of Italian inspired anise, which provides a slight licorice flavor.
Availability: Distributed throughout New Jersey, so unless I go to NJ or find them at another beerfest, I’m out-of-luck.
Mad Tree Brewing‘s Citra High
*a 10.2% abv Imperial IPA with huge citrus flavors and enough hoppiness to make devout IPA lovers happy.
Availability: Distributed throughout Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Athens, and Northern Kentucky, and lucky for us, we have family there!
Transient Artisan Ales‘ Buckley Imperial Breakfast Stout
*a massively huge 14%abv Imperial Stout with coffee, maple syrup, and vanilla. As soon as we saw the pitch-black oil and dark tan head, we knew that we were getting something phenomenal. Then, with one sip, the sweet, bitter, malty, coffee, nutty, roasty goodness was obvious. This stout may be reminiscent of the flavor profiles in most breakfast stouts, but it has more body, more personality, more oomph than you could ever imagine. (Yes, “oomph” is a word.)
Availability: Apparently, Transient Ales are only available in and around Chicago, so to all my Chicago friends…wanna trade???
8 Wired Brewing‘s iStout Beer Floats
*an amazing (10%abv) Russian Imperial Stout on its own, but when they added Tampa’s Revolution Ice Cream (available with The Best Dang Vanilla or Ch2Hn Chocolate Habanero), they created a dessert drink that was undoubtedly the best treat at the entire festival. I don’t eat sweets, but unashamedly licked the glass clean!
Availability: Distributed by Shelton Brothers and Progressive Distribution (in Florida). This may take some fine investigative skills, but I’m persistent and will certainly post when (not “if”) I find it!
Pohjala‘s Mel Gibson
*a beautifully heavy (12.2% abv) Scotch Whisky Barrel Aged Scottish Ale smelling of smokey caramel and fig preserves and tasting of sweet, malty, peaty Scotch. My husband, who doesn’t normally like Scottish Ales, loved it.
Availability: Much like 8 Wired, getting bottles of this may take some investigation and emails to distributors.
Magic Rock Brewing‘s Kentucky Common Grounds
*an American Porter but more accurately, a Bourbon Barrel Aged Triple Coffee Porter, bringing more flavor than its low abv (6%) should have.
Availability: Supposedly, the only place in Florida that it’s available is Mr. Dunderbaks in Tampa.