Saturday's fifth annual Hunahpu's Day at Cigar City Brewing will be one of the biggest events of Tampa Bay Beer Week 2014. If you plan on attending, you'll to want to attack it with a plan — a basic strategy for surviving the chaos that is Hunahpu's Day.
Get tickets A little late for that, no? Well, not exactly. Despite selling out less than an hour after they became available online, a startling number of tickets are available on Craigslist. Strange how so many plans changed at the last minute! My advice: Don't pay a dollar more than what the ticket costs ($52.24, to include the online processing fee). If you have to give someone gas money to meet you, fine; just don't support the crooks who are trying to profit from this event.
Although it's a risky gambit, I've had success in the past buying tickets for sold out events on the day of, especially in the hour or so before the event. Many Hunahpu's scalpers will be attending the event and don't want to risk losing the $50 they put up for their "extra" ticket and will agree to a last-minute sale at face value.
Have a hotel room This is even riskier if you're trying the last-minute ticket ploy, but it's a good long-term proposition, as you do not want to be driving after this event. There are several hotels within a 5-mile radius, which makes cabbing to the brewery (3924 W Spruce St.) a viable and responsible option. Split a hotel room and cab with three friends, and you're looking at about $20 a person.
If you have a group, arrive early Although the festival officially starts at 11 a.m., rumor has it the brewery will allow people on site beforehand, meaning you can lock up a premium HQ table on the festival grounds, if you don't mind waking up before 10 a.m. (don't ask me to do it). If you have a bottle-sharing group or other large party, this is a must; you will value having the shaded table later in the day.
Speaking of which Bring bottles to share! Bottle sharing is allowed and encouraged at Hunahpu's Day; just make sure to not be stingy with your pours. Note that this is not a suggestion to jump into an obvious bottle-sharing group, but if you show up with a bottle or two of unique or hard-to-find beer, then you might find yourself welcomed into one. Alternatively, just share some bottles with your friends — it's fun!
Make a must-try list Take a look at the tap list on hunahpusday.com. Pretty intense, right? I recommend making a list of 10 beers that you absolutely must try. Conquer those first, and let the rest happen as it will. In addition to eight different variations of Hunahpu's (including the 2013 version), there are plenty of rare finds and uncommon treats that you will want to seek out.
Don't feel bad if you've tried some of the beers before. My list includes several repeats, like New Belgium's Love's Leopold, TriNiTY's Ten Minutes of Pleasure, Mikkeller Betelgeuze, and Toppling Goliath pseudoSue, but this event represents one of maybe two or three times a year I get to drink them. Also keep an eye on Tampa newcomers Angry Chair and Coppertail. The former is pouring a delicious-sounding Brett C Saison with Mango and Peach, and the latter a Barrel-Aged Sour Ale. I'm making sure to knock these out before I jump fully into uncharted territory.
Bring cash The $50 ticket price includes a tasting glass and unlimited pours, but you really need more than that in cash on the day of. There will be food trucks on site, and believe me when I tell you you're going to want some food. And don't forget the entire reason for Hunahpu's Day in the first place: It's when bottles of Hunahpu's Imperial Stout are released, and they're $20 a bottle. Buy a couple of them — they're worth the hype.