What a whirlwind trip. I'd been to GABF before but always on the other side of the booths. It was a great experience and I feel like I learned a lot that we can carry over to next year. We did take home a Gold Medal in the Wood or Barrel Aged category for our Humidor Series Jai Alai IPA. I was thrilled with that, but the funny thing is I was pouring at the Florida Brewer's Guild booth at the time and didn't know we had won. I got a text from a friend back in Tampa saying congrats on the Gold and that was my first clue that we'd either won or that my friend has a cruel sense of humor. Turns out we'd actually won.
I was later told that the 7 beers we entered for judging is a fairly low amount of entries and that many breweries enter much more than that. So I feel especially happy that we were able to come away with a gold medal our first year out considering we only entered each beer in one category and we didn't enter some of the beers (due to being out of them ourselves) we feel had a good chance like Big Sound Scotch Ale or 110K+OT #2. I did feel like Humidor Jai Alai had a good chance in its category because it is the kind of category where deviation from the norm is a good thing. One of the GABF judges had this to say about Humidor Series Jai Alai:
"The stand-out beer for me that I judged, in terms of innovation, was the winner of the gold category in wood-aged beers, the Humidor Series IPA, Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, FL. It is aged on the wood of cigar boxes, which is called cigar cedar but is actually from the mahogony family, and the spice and aroma it imparts to the beer is absolutely incredible.The base beer IPA itself was technically flawless and the pepper, sandalwood, vanilla, cinnamon, cedar, leather and tobacco notes that poured off it were more akin to a rum descriptor than a beer but still incredible nonetheless."
I met a lot of great folk on the trip which only reinforced my belief that people in the craft beer industry and craft beer fans are by and large some of the nicest and most interesting folks around. We also talked to many distributors interested in picking us up, but we feel like we need to hold pat with what we have in the pipeline already. Still it's nice to know there is plenty of interest for the future.
I am sort of decompressing today, which means I'm gonna do jack squat work wise, but we do have a lot of exciting stuff planned for the coming week. Ohh and the Tasting Room will be open again on Wednesday and we plan to have some new stuff on draft.
I also want to say thanks to Mike Fouch a talented local homebrewer and salesman for Microman Distributing. It was Mike that let me taste one of his homebrews that he'd aged on cigar box cedar and I knew from the first sip he'd created something unique. I believe I said something to the effect of, "Damn this amazing! I'm stealing this idea!" Mike gave his blessing and a few years down the road we actually produced a commercial batch of cigar box cedar aged beer. Naturally I also want to thank Wayne Wambles for being a talented and passionate brewer, Doug Dozark for bringing his hard work and valuable insights to our team, Toni Derby and Beth Boyles for getting us organized and all of our supporters who buy the beer we make and spread the word about what we are doing down here in Tampa. Thanks everyone for supporting CCB's beer making aspirations!