Beer-cation: Cigar City Brewing, Tampa FL
There are a few things that they say are certain in life. Death and taxes come to mind. For me there is a third: Visiting Cigar City Brewing (CCB) in Tampa, FL. Now it is no secrect that I am a huge fan of CCB, I have even been quoted as calling them the “beer mecca of the south”, so I guess it’s about time I let you know why I love this place. (Apart form the amazing beer!)
My parents live in the St. Petersburg / Clearwater area, so we find ourselves packing up the car a few times a year to visit Me-Mere and Pe-Pere, relax, swim in the pool, shop for beer, and visit Cigar City. We have about a six hour drive and needless to say after about five hours or so we are more than ready to “beer there”. In a pleasant twist of fate CCB is just a few blocks off interstate 275. My wife jokes that the CCB taproom is the only place in Tampa she knows how to get to! We always stop on the way into town to fill a few growlers, and believe me there is nothing like having a few cold growlers to insipre you through the last 20 miles of a long journey.
The Cigar City Taproom is located at 3924 West Spruce St in Tampa, Florida and is open from 11am – 10pm Sunday – Thursday and 11am – 12am on Fridays and Saturdays. Tours are offered on every day except Monday and Tuesday, please visit the CCB website for full details or to sign up for a tour. A modest sized bar, it can get a bit crowded on the weekends and for special events. We have been there on days when we are the only people at the bar, and others where getting a beer might take a few minutes. The staff has alway been outstanding regardless of how busy the bar is. We have had some very pleasant conversations with many of the bartenders and bar backs on several of our visits. There is a very strong chance you will strike up some awesome beer conversations with other patrons as well. If your neighbor isn’t chatty you can always just relax and check out the tv screens above the bar showing live scenes from inside the brewery next door. It isn’t uncommon to see Head Brewer Wayne Wambles passing through the tasting room in conversation with an employee about this beer or another. I would like to think he’s doing a little quality control in the taproom as well!
We met up with my friend Jim on this visit to conduct an in person beer trade and to catch up over a few pints. I had the Puppy’s Breath Porter (a rotating release that had eluded me until this day), a Nor DIPA and Everett Porter from Hill Farmstead that was on their guest taps. All were amazing. Emily enjoyed a Humidor Riverwalk Pale Ale and a Peach IPA. Just like always I had a great time, and left feeling a little jealous of the people of Tampa who are able to enjoy this 7 days a week.
Every Friday evening at 5:30 is food truck friday in the parking lot, and apparently due to their poularity Firkin Fridays have moved to Saturdays. You can always find updates on special events and kegs via the CCB facebook page which is updated rather often. Beer is available to purchase at the taproom in the form of bottles, cans and growlers. Regular six packs are available, but don’t forget to look for any limited “brewery only” releases as well. If you plan to fill your own growlers (you can buy the bottles there as well) make note that Florida law only allows fills of 32oz and 128oz. For some reason the common 64oz growlers are not allowed to be filled. There is also a gift shop with a t-shirts, hats, soap, tap handles and glassware available for sale. I know there are many other great breweries in this area of Florida (Tampa Bay Brewing Co., Dunedin Brewery, and Peg’s Cantina come to mind immediately) but it is just so hard for to pass up the opportunity to go to Cigar City every chance I get!