R.I.P. Hunahpu’s Day
In case you haven’t heard, Cigar City has decided to cancel the annual festival and bottle release after counterfeit tickets and beer shortages created many dissatisfied attendees.
You can read a more condensed version of Hunahpu’s Day 2014 at Lee’s article for Southern Living. We thought it would be fun to give a personal touch here, with first-hand accounts of our experiences at Hunahpu’s Day 2014 which were overwhelmingly positive.
Much has been said about Hunahpu’s Day this past Saturday and not a lot of if has been good. Obviously there were some major issues but I’m here to offer an alternative opinion. The four of us: me, Lee, Keith and our friend Brian, arrived just a little before the beers began pouring. Cigar City had asked that people to arrive “fashionably late” We took our arrival to be just that, we were avoiding long morning lines and issues with disturbing neighbors from the year before. We had a good fifteen minute wait, but nothing we had not expected.
Pouring was not allowed to start until 11:00AM, even your own bottles. We followed this rule, found a nice spot, set up a few chairs and looking over the beer list, planned out our attack.
When pouring started we just wandered, finding the shortest lines. That early, sometimes there was not a line at all. Doing this I was able to try many of the beers I wanted to taste, and a few bonus beers as well. Burnt Hickory was my favorite spot and I hung around there to make sure I tasted everything they had to offer. The day went along this way for the next two hours, with only a break for a food truck lunch, which I didn’t wait in line for at all.
When 1:00 rolled around, the time when many of the limited beers were released, I realized things were not the same as they had been. The crowd was growing and the space was getting tight. The line I jumped in, for Hunahpoopoo, was massive and disorganized and I gave up getting any before long. I heard it was gone in fifteen minutes. The people I was in line with were super. Several were sharing bottles and all seemed to be in a good mood. That done, I moved back to out seats for a bottle share.
Sharing some growlers of Service Brewing test batches got me up and talking and before long we had a nice group of people gathering around. I’d love to say it was the BDR personalities that pulled them in but it was Service Brewing’s beer. This period of time lasted until we went to get our allotted bottles. I had put this off only because I didn’t want to “supervise” my bottles all day. It was my one mistake. The line, if you can call it that was crazy, a mob really. As with all the lines the people around me were generally good fun, willing to chat and share. I was lucky enough to get my three bottles, but it was rough and the general crowd was, at that point, unwieldy so I went back to the bottle share.
I didn’t see the mess that happened after that, we were shielded from that view but I’m glad I didn’t see it. Despite a few uncomfortable moments I had a genuinely great time at Hunaphu’s Day. I’m glad I went and I’m sorry to hear that there will be no more.
They say that history is written by the winners; but the legacy of Hunahpu’s Day 2014 has been decided by those that lost out due to counterfeit tickets, greedy beer hoarders and speculators that took what was a great day and twisted it into a chaotic finale.
Our foursome made it there around 10:30 AM and waited in a relatively short 20 minute line to get into the brewery grounds at Cigar City. By the time we staked our claim (a sweet spot between a dumpster and the port-o-johns) it was time for tasting pours.
The format this year was far more like a traditional beer festival, with some brewers on hand to talk about their beers and dedicated stations for many breweries. Some rarer beers where more spread out and random, which added a bit of a scavenger hunt feel to the festivities; but that was a small price to pay for the chance to taste some fantastic, innovative rare beers.
As the day grew long and the sun grew more powerful, so did the lines and the discontent in the crowd. We were able to alleviate much of the stress by bringing bottles we carted along to the lines with us, sharing and laughing with new friends that we made throughout the day.
When we had all had enough, we each got our four bottle allotment of Hunahpu’s and left, not without braving a throng of masses filing in from all sides into two lines for purchasing.
It wasn’t until we were lounging poolside, prepping for dinner that we heard about the chaos of running out of beer and that the masses turned on the creators.