Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: The Hunahpu's over, thanks to foaming hordes

There's an old joke: You don't buy beer. You rent it.

And that serves as a pretty good explanation for what happened to Tampa suds impresario Joey Redner, who proved that on the road of good imbibing intentions occasionally one finds oneself metaphorically covered in … well, let's leave it at that.

Redner owns the widely respected Cigar City Brewery in Drew Park, a business that has steadily gained an international following for its lovingly crafted beers.

For the past five years, Redner has organized a foamy Brigadoon of beer Hunahpu Day festivus, named after a Mayan mythological figure, in which he releases for one day only his special Hunahpu Imperial Stout. In the past, 3,000 or so people bought tickets and a good time was slurped by all.

This is Tampa. We drink here. Any occasion will do.

But last weekend, because some oafs sold counterfeit tickets to Hunahpu Day, 6,000 people showed up to sample the golden elixir, more than Joey Redner could possibly accommodate. Unpleasantries ensued.

Soon the parched crowd grew antsy and angrier. Fists were pounded on the brewery's door. Profane chanting commenced. It was all enough to drive a man to drink.

And so, given the mayhem created by the bogus ticket scam beyond his control, Redner sadly announced there will be no more Hunahpu Day.

And that's a shame. The Redner name in Tampa is more commonly associated with his father, Joe Redner, the Mons Venus patriarch of brass poles. But Redner the younger has worked hard to carve out his own civic and business identity and reputation separate from his father. He has not only become his own man, but a well-regarded brewmaster.

Still, while some people who were duped in the ticket scam were disappointed, the resulting en masse grumbling seems to suggest that some of these people might have been overserved long before they arrived at the gates of Cigar City Brewing.

After all, this wasn't like the citizenry of Kiev rising up to throw off the yoke of an oppressive government. This wasn't the storming of the barricades after Iran tried to finagle a fixed election some years ago. This wasn't Martin Luther King braving the snarling dogs, fire hoses and batons of Selma. This was about a mug of beer.

The Tampa Bay Business Journal cited one whiner, who posted a missive to Redner on a social media platform: "Really curious how you're going to make this right for folks like myself that drove 18 hrs for this event."

Uh, make what right? If you are stupid enough to drive 18 hours for a glass of beer, you pretty much deserve whatever happens to you.

By all accounts the Hunahpu Imperial Stout is the Dom Perignon, the Johnnie Walker Blue, the Chateau Lafite Rothschild of beer.

But really now, as much as I might enjoy a cold one now and then, there is no way I would spend $50 on a ticket and wait in line with thousands of people, much less travel 18 hours, merely to sip what may very well be an arguably swell beer.

And I thought I didn't have a life!

As it turned out, Joey Redner did make things right, refunding the 3,500 legitimate ticket holders and giving away $9,000 worth of craft beer the day after the Hunahpu hullabaloo.

And that only makes sense. Much like his father, Joey Redner knows something about the keen importance of customer satisfaction.

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