It’s Saturday morning and I’m learning a lot about the Tampa craft beer scene. This biggest thing so far about their beer here is the less you drink the better you feel the next morning. I start my day with the same questions as the day before, “What happened?”, “Where the hell am I?” and “What’s for lunch?” I have an easier time figuring out my dilemmas this morning. We had a freaking blast at Cigar City Brewing the night before, we walked to this hotel. But what’s for lunch?
We head to some Cuban place for breakfast and all of us order Cuban sandwiches, which were amazing. The same for great food places is the same here as it is anywhere. The hole in the wall spots are amazing. This place had two tables and we sat at one of them. The rest of the seats were along a winding bar top and there wasn’t an empty bar stool. Some of our crew didn’t learn the same things that I did last night. So they were having a hard time keeping their head out of their food. Damn, and that person was driving us around? Our next stop was thankfully close by.
Out of the parking lot, hang a left at the first light and turn into a large-scale shopping center to find a Total Wine. They had a nice selection and it’s always a pleasure looking at different beer. The sad part of this visit was seeing three grown men check out with two full shopping carts of craft beer. Yeah, I don’t know what those guys were thinking, I only bought a six-pack, ha-ha. [sarcasm] We now have maybe 10 minutes to find our driver that wander off to another store that we have no idea what it’s location is, drop beer off at the hotel then drive back to CCB. We make it back to the hotel and grab a luggage buggy to pile the beer on. While we make our way through the lobby someone yells out asking if we have any Cigar City beer. While I’m telling myself to answer back saying, “Yes, Captain Obvious.” I bite my tongue and say, “Nope!” We’re off loading beer as fast as we can while getting harassing phone calls from Beer Monster. Whew we make it.
What are we doing at CCB at noon 15’ish and why must we be so prompt? We’re on their Tampa Bay Brew Bus heading to a Tampa Bay Rays game against the Oakland A’s. It’s that time of day where you’ve had lunch but still have that uneasy feeling of last night’s libations and thoughts of, “Should I drink this early?” Well those feelings subside as soon as they start passing out free beer. Here we are again at that point in the journey where I think to myself that this may be one of the best beers I’ve had on this trip. CCB brews a couple of beers mainly for Brew Bus consumption. A red ale and a big dry-hopped wheat called Are Wheat There Yet? It was just a normal wheat until some mistakenly added the dry hops for Jai Alai to this wheat beer. Best mistake ever maybe. We hang out at the game for a while and wander around. They have a standing area with tall bar tops in right field. We end up there to eat a bite. Cloudy gets a call from BM that they have left and walked across the street to Ferg’s Sports Bar because CCB Maduro Brown 20 ounces are half price. Typical outdoor style bar with better prices and more humid environment that Tropicana Field.
We make our way back to the brew bus and head back to CCB. We walk back to the hotel to freshen up before another night of stupid decisions begins. When it’s time for food later the food truck of the night was Graffeaties and I had some of the best tacos ever. The lady was super polite and appreciative of my compliments on the food. It’s our last night so I’m going for some of their bigger beers to sample those I’ve never had. We took another tour from one of their old tour guides and we’re drinking right out of the tanks. We had some stuff at the time that no one even knew of. Like their collaboration beer called Flame-Out, a stupid over hopped beer. If only we could have gotten into the other side of the brewery for a sample of Zhukov. Before the end of the night was over with Cloudy started giving brewery tours which were much more educational than any other tour I’ve been on anywhere. As tour goers would have questions Private America and I were helping out.
Sunday morning comes way too soon and we even leave later than planned. I know right? So to say my first fully intentional beer trip was a success would be the largest understatement in most recent history. I can’t begin to thank Beer Monster, Cloudy, Private America and LF III enough. I only hope I was fun to have around. Next idea is a four or five-day trip through the Carolinas. I hope they’re ready!