Too many people and not enough beer cause chaos at Cigar City Hunahpu's release

The oversold event turned chaotic after long lines and not enough beer.

Posted by Arielle Stevenson on Sun, Mar 9, 2014 at 12:08 PM

TOM SCHERBERGER
  • Tom Scherberger



The Cigar City Brewing Hunahpu's beer release is known for being the most highly attended and highly anticipated event of Tampa Bay Beer Week. But when beer lovers lined up for the $20 bottle on Saturday, they were greeted with a two-hour wait to get in and upwards of another two hours in line for beer, before Cigar City completely ran out of Hunahpu.

The door on the event space slammed shut and the cops showed up to control the crowd, who were outside chanting “Cigar City Sucks, Cigar City Sucks.”

"We're completely sorry for all issues that happened today," Cigar City posted on their Facebook page later. "It really sucked. We completely understand how much it sucked and hate how much it sucked. We don't want it to suck ever again. We will do what we can to make it right."

Hunahpu’s Day turned out to be the worst day ever for Cigar City Brewing. Below is a video from the event.

The 3,500 attendance limit that was supposed to bring order to the chaos of last year’s annual release of Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout didn’t work.

Hundreds have taken to Cigar City's page to express their frustrations with the debacle.

"I not only feel like I wasted $50 on your event, but airfare and hotel," one commenter wrote. "Thx for the three hour line to get in and the two hour line to get three beers. You have no idea what a disaster you created."

That $50 admission included the opportunity to purchase up to three bottles of Hunahpu for $20 apiece, plus get the chance to sample some of the best beers from around the country. One of the longest lines of the day — a 20-minute or two-beer wait — was for Toppling Goliath, a small, highly regarded Iowa brewery making its Florida debut.

Some attendees did not have a negative experience. Many of Cigar City's most loyal fans defended CCB in posts on Facebook saying they had a great time despite crowded conditions.

Duplicate tickets were said to be partly to blame. Whatever happened, Cigar City was apologizing by day’s end and trying to make amends, starting with free beer Sunday at the tap room and continuing with a pledge of full refunds for all.

"As we figure out how to make up for the nightmare that happened today, we'd like to start with this mea culpa: all draft beer in the tasting room today [Sunday Mar. 9]  will be FREE," Cigar City announced on Facebook. "We will not charge a dime for any beers served in the tasting room tomorrow. We are going to try and tap all of the remaining kegs leftover from today, too."

Cigar City is providing full refunds for the debacle. Tickets purchased via EventBrite.com will be automatically refunded. Tickets paid for by cash or credit can be obtained by emailing refund@cigarcitybrewing.com.

Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Funny write up, I will share my experience:

It was my first year there (I drove down from Atlanta), I booked at the Howard Johnson hotel nearby, I got in line early (waited in line at 10:30 AM, got in the gate at 11 AM). I noticed their ticket scanning system wasn't working well, but they 'pretended' to scan it (I think, I couldn't really tell). They told me my 3 bottles were guaranteed until 4 PM and after 4 PM, you could buy additional bottles if any extras were left.

Once in the gate at 11 AM, there were some long lines (Toppling Goliath and a couple others) but not many, most lines were immediate. I was able to have between 30 - 40 sample beers between 11 AM and 4 PM (plenty for me), and many nice random strangers were sharing bottle pours with me all morning. I was having a fun time!

I got in line to get my 3 Hunahpu bottles at 12 PM, strategizing to go in line while some people were at lunch. The line was only 5 minutes long and I got my 3 bottles easily for $60 cash. I went in line again at 4 PM and got 1 more bottle, the line was 40 minutes long at that time.

The only DISAPPOINTMENTS for me were MINOR, and were as follows:

1) In the afternoon, people were getting a little rowdy due to the sun and the increased crowd size (and the alcohol, of course).
2) Many special releases I was looking forward to were held until 1 PM
3) Of the 40+ cigar city beers on the list, I only had about 5 of them. I couldn't find the other 35, and Cigar City was the main reason I went to the festival. Perhaps a cigar city (ONLY) fest in the future would be worth going to, and it would be nice if they published how many bbls / kegs of each beer is present, so guests can strategically choose what they want to wait in line for and what they want to give up.
4) The crowd seemed larger than 3,500, which means someone probably made beaucoup $$$ reselling tickets.
5) I wish I had known the tasting room was open and free on Sunday, but this is not something I can 'expect' - and even though I missed this I think it was very generous of them.

Normally I'd be more upset about #3 above, but I had so many other amazing beers that I couldn't have possibly had any more.

I would go back. Perhaps those who are bitter should consider that someone is refunding 3,500 tickets * $50 ($175,000). Any brewery who hosts thousands of people for free beer and ends up choosing to leave $175,000 on the table is humble and is good in my book. In fact, getting $50 back that I didn't expect to get back is icing on the cake for me.

Overall, the experience was great - it was the best beer festival I've ever been to. I especially liked that I got to try many sours I never would have been able to try otherwise.

report 9 likes, 3 dislikes   
Posted by Tom on 03/10/2014 at 10:53 AM

You should not take the $50 refund then since you had such a great time.

report 7 likes, 1 dislike   
Posted by beerlover32 on 03/10/2014 at 12:30 PM

Always sucks when the minority make it unbearable for the majority. Time to go with something like brown paper tickets and checking ID's so beer sold only goes to those whose names match the order. Someone should call out the neck-beard in the video who started the chant. Ridiculous behavior from a person.

report 1 like, 1 dislike   
Posted by BeerJesus on 03/10/2014 at 3:19 PM

Cigar City is a great brewery. Hunahpu's Day was ruined by assholes who purchased tickets on line and printed out multiple copies which they then sold on the street. Very few of these assholes - criminals, really - are locals. Most of them are speculators from elsewhere just looking for stuff to sell on e-Bay. Hopefully these assholes will stay the fuck away in the future and leave Cigar City for those of us who actually enjoy the craft beer experience.

report 2 likes, 0 dislikes   
Posted by Herb Davis on 03/11/2014 at 10:48 AM
Showing 1-4 of 4

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