We’ve been planning for this year’s Hunahpu’s Day pretty much since Hunahpu’s Day last year, which we missed by about two weeks. For those of you who don’t know what Hunahpu’s Day is, once a year Cigar City Brewing releases a special Imperial stout called Hunahpu. The name has to do with a Mayan myth. CCB takes their Marshal Zhukov Imperial stout and ages it on cacao nibs, Madagascar vanilla beans, ancho chilis, pasilla chilis and cinnamon. Reports are that it tastes a lot like a mole sauce. Hunahpu is rated a 100 on RateBeer.com and a 100 on BeerAdvocate.com, which tells you it’s going to be highly sought after. Hunahpu is also a very limited, brewery-only release ($20 for a 750mL bottle) to further heighten the Hunahpu fever. CCB releases the beer during a big street party at the brewery with special draft beers from CCB and other breweries, food trucks, and live bands.
Our Hunahpu preparations started on Thursday. Hubby bought tokens at CCB (required for day-of beer purchases, although cash could also be used to buy Hunahpu bottles) and picked up folding chairs for us at Wal-Mart. Thursday night we tried to get a good night’s sleep but we were pretty excited.
Friday while I was at work Hubby finished packing up. We had a suitcase with two Snuggies, paper plates and bowls, paper towels, plastic cups, beer glasses, and other odds and ends, plus a rolling cooler full of beer (and water), and a bag of Pei Wei for dinner. We dressed in layers and arrived at CCB at 11 PM to set up camp, hoping that the line wasn’t too long. We were so pleasantly surprised! We were about twentieth in line.
Our friends C & T live near us, so they followed us to CCB. After a quick pit stop for water, they joined us in line. C & T had been at Peg’s earlier for the bottle share and T had gotten pretty wasted (he was a trooper for making it to CCB at all that night), so he quickly retired to their car for a nap. The three of us settled in for the duration. Fortunately, as long as the tasting room was open, they let us use the bathrooms inside and in the brewery. After the tasting room closed, they still had the gate open so we could use the port-a-potties in the parking lot.
In the next few hours, the line continued to form behind us. About 2 AM, C went to nap with T. I would guess by then there were another 50 people in line. About 3:30 we texted C & T to let them know we were ready for a nap soon. They made a McDonald’s run, then joined us back in line about 4:10. By that time it was also pretty chilly. After I ate my McDonald’s cheeseburger, Hubby and I went to the car for a nap about 4:30 (and to warm up! – thank you, seat heaters). I set my alarm for 6 AM (they were supposed to start handing out wristbands at 7:50) and we drifted off.
I woke up about 5 and put my phone in my lap in case C texted me. Thank goodness I did – at 5:40 she texted to say “Handing out wristbands!!” I hit Hubby and said, “We gotta go – they’re handing out wristbands early!” We ran back to the line and got our much-anticipated wristbands for our three bottles each (given to the first 4000 people – the next 1000 would get bands for two bottles each).
After we got our wristbands, we all decided to go home for some real sleep in real beds and return to the brewery at 11 AM. By that time, the line stretched down the sidewalk by CCB to the entrance to the Home Depot parking lot and into the parking lot a little bit.
We dropped C & T off at their house (in order for them to keep their parking spot near the brewery) and got home about 6:15. We were so excited it was hard to settle down but we managed to fall asleep about 6:30. My alarm went off at 9:45 so I could freshen up before going back, which was much needed.
We picked C & T up at 10:45 and found parking just a couple blocks down the road from the brewery at Trans World, where the Shriners were charging $10 per car (a total deal). The crowd had grown significantly.
We decided to get some food before Hunahpu was released at noon. I started at Mobile Munchiez where I got a chorizo rice ball (basically a fist-sized arancini with chorizo and ground beef) for $7. Delicious but very rich and heavy. They also gave me two yuca fries as a sample. I would absolutely get them next time I see this food truck! Yuca fries are a little sweeter and have more flavor than regular white potato fries.
Jimmy Meatballs was there, too. I have heard their food is fantastic, which I told Hubby. He decided that’s what he wanted. He ordered the sample of three balls as sliders ($9) with the sesame ginger (“Asian Pork with sweet soy glaze & cream cheese”), buffalo chicken (“Chicken with mild wing sauce, cheddar & ranch slaw”), and Korean BBQ (“Sweet pork with red chili sauce over mojo slaw”). I wanted the death by chocolate balls (“Cake, brownie, Nutella, warm with flaky crust”), so Hubby said let’s get two (for $5). We ordered and were told they were out of bread (this was 11:30 AM). Hubby said fine, let me just have the balls ($7.50 instead). Then she said, “We’re out of pork meatballs but we can do them with chicken balls.” Again, he said fine, but we were pretty annoyed by this point. There was no sign posted on the truck about this and we had already waited about five minutes to order.
The meatballs themselves were good enough. The sesame ginger and Korean BBQ both would have been better with pork but were still tasty. I wasn’t a fan of the cream cheese with the sesame ginger. It just didn’t feel like it really had a purpose in the dish. The cheddar on the buffalo chicken was just shredded cheese sprinkled on top and the flavors didn’t mesh (why not do crumbled blue cheese?). The death by chocolate was really good, though. Definitely could not have eaten more than one (Hubby ate the other one) because they are quite sweet and rich. I think we would skip Jimmy Meatballs next time, if for no other reason than they were so disorganized.
After we ate we got in line for our bottles. At first it was hard to find the distribution points, even with the maps they handed out at the entrance.
Once we found at a distribution point, it was almost impossible to form a line because they had allowed people to set up chairs all around the tent (duh). But we managed to squeeze in. At last the clock struck noon and out came the bottles.
After a few minutes, we had a box full of Hunahpu!
We stayed until about 2:30. Lush Confections was there and Hubby surprised me with some treats: ghost pepper stout, grapefruit Jai Alai, and Guinness Irish Car Bomb truffles. Ghost pepper was quite spicy. The grapefruit Jai Alai was FANTASTIC, as was the Irish Car Bomb. I could eat a dozen of them.
As soon as we got home from the brewery, I collapsed into bed and slept for three hours. When I woke up, I discovered a lovely souvenir: a sunburn on my chest, face, and arms. I had forgotten sunscreen, d’oh!
After a shower, Hubby and I went back to CCB about 7:30 and bought seven more bottles (at 5 PM they allowed purchases without wristbands, up to a case per person). A few people were still hanging around but mostly the lot was empty. Only Renny’s Oki Doki and Burger Culture were still serving food. We saw many cabs arriving to pick up intoxicated beer geeks.
After we got our bottles, we went to Fleming’s for some non-beer spirits and food (review coming soon) and toasted to a successful Hunahpu’s Day. We’re already planning to attend 2014, although we’re not sure if the event will look the same. I read this article that quoted Justin Clark, CCB’s vice president, as saying, “This might be the last year of Hunahpu’s Day in its current form. It has basically grown as big as it can possibly get at the brewery, but we’re exploring every option. We might have to spread it over a couple days.” There is some speculation they will move it off the brewery property to a bigger location, or have to start selling tickets to the event.
Overall, the day (and night before) went smoothly. Craft beer fans are a pretty tame bunch. The biggest troublemaker I saw was a dude (drunk) stomping on his cell phone because “I hate my phone.” (No, I don’t know why.) I would love to find out from TPD if there were any arrests at or around the event. I would assume the most likely legal trouble resulting from it was a few DUIs.
We haven’t tried our Hunahpu yet. Even if I don’t hear angels sing when I drink it, I won’t regret attending Hunahpu’s Day. I love to have new adventures with my husband, and having our friends with us only enhanced the experience. Cheers to CCB for a fantastic event! We look forward to 2014.
Postscript: Hubby returned to the brewery Sunday about noon and got five more bottles. When he was there, they only had 12 cases left.
Post-post script: We tried a bottle of Hunahpu and it was pretty damn awesome. You definitely get chili peppers in it but not in a fake or overpowering way. It really is the beer equivalent of mole sauce. I’m not sure if I would’ve waited in line by myself for it but being with my husband and friends made the whole experience so worth it.
Hunahpu’s Day was pretty fun, but a lot of waiting. Got there around 11:30 the night before. Sat in line and shared some bottles with people around us. There were some crazy gems like The Bruery Black Tuesday and tons of Heady Topper. I brought a bunch of sours from Cascade and Russian River. All were delicious, especially the apricot from Cascade. Around 6 AM they handed out wristbands and we went home for a nap. When we came back around 11:15, it was packed. The lines were crazy long: 45 minutes for a beer, and lines for the Hunahpu bottles grew to about two hours long. It seemed pretty disorganized. Lines for bottles went through a sea of chairs and were inaccessible to many. Another line had two starting points that merged into one, so you can imagine how that went. I think there needs to be more employees to regulate lines, give information, and help patrons deal with the crowds.
All in all, it was a good day. Got a bunch of bottles and already had one. It was amazing. I’d do it again.