Hunahpu’s Day: Our first (and last) American beer fest

Ah, Hunahpu’s Day. What can I say, except maybe: Good riddance?

This was our first American beer fest since coming back to the states. And probably the last.

Now I don’t want to get all “everything is better in Europe” on you. But I will. Because it is.

Hunahpu’s Day was to be a brilliant mix of beer release and beer festival. Spend a sunny day with 3499 of your closest friends sampling delicious variants of the imperial stout and 200+ other craft beers at Cigar City Brewery. Chillax. There will be no crowds, no long lines and your ticket guarantees you will be able to purchase 3 bottles of the Hunahpu’s beer released that day.

In reality, it was the exact opposite. Hunahpu’s Day was a complete disaster.

The lines at Cigar City's Hunahpu's Day stretched all the way around the block

The crazy line to get in Cigar City’s Hunahpu’s Day. The line stretched around the block. This is ahead of us, standing on the opposite corner, opposite side of the block from the brewery

long lines at Cigar City's Hunahpu's Day stretched around the block

And the long line behind us

If you read the Internets, the degree to which Hunahpu’s Day failed varies from Code Red “I hate you Cigar City! DIE! DIE! DIE!” to “What are you guys talking about? I had the best time ever!” My five year old says a lot of things are the best ever…until the next thing is the best thing ever. Some times 5 minutes later.

So take this as it is—my opinion. Maybe you had a good time; I thought it sucked. One thing everyone who attended can agree on: It was a mess.

In summary: Only 3500 tickets were sold. There were 5000, maybe 7000, maybe more people there. How many tickets were comped? Suspicious that they never ran out of wristbands or glasses. No need to line up early they said. “Be fashionably late.” We were a fashionable 45 minutes late and waited in line more than 1.5 hours. Just to get in.

There were counterfeited tickets. But no one was scanning the ticket QR codes at the entry point. There was no line management, almost no security, seemingly little organization. And worst of all: NO BEER. Everything we wanted to try was out by the time we got in. Some of the volunteers serving couldn’t even tell you what they were serving. Remember, each ticket guaranteed you the opportunity to buy 3 bottles of the beer being released that day. Some people didn’t even get that. (We did.)

Hunahpu’s Day was a colossal disaster. A classic case of bad idea, poorly executed.

For the record, Cigar City did refund the purchase price of all tickets. They will brew another batch of Hunahpu’s for everyone who didn’t get their bottles. Spawning a whole new counterfeit-wristband trade, no doubt. They gave free pints at the brewery the day after. Now there’s a genius idea. (If you didn’t read that as sarcasm, try again.) And they admitted defeat. Instead of hiring someone who actually knows what they’re doing, they quit. They’re never going to do it again. There will be no more Hunahpu’s Day. Seems like the easy way out.

Which brings me to the point. After drinking Stone’s godawful Punishment and some nail polish remover from Seventh Sun, I have to wonder: Is this what we’ve come to? Has it gotten to the point where brewers are going to bottle whatever nasty swill they want or serve obviously infected beer simply because they can—because someone will buy it. Has craft beer become so popular that these out-of-hand beer festivals are the new norm?

If so, I don’t want a part of it. Take me back to Europe where I can get a hug from Jean Van Roy, a hamburger at La Trappe, a barrel-aged stout at Borefts and know that everything is right in the world.

 

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