I am fully aware that Cigar City doesn’t actually own or operate the mini-brewpub located in Airside C at Tampa International Airport. It serves their beer, and they operate the small brewing system located there, but it’s actually operated by HMS Host or one of those similiar companies.
It’s just a little frustrating wanting to learn a bit more about the house beers there and running up against servers that are there just to shuttle food and drinks. For example, Cigar City had Sweet Stout (Stout, 6.6% ABV, 25 IBU) on tap.
First of all, I was immediately told it’s like Guinness. I’m sorry, I like them both, but you can’t take a milk stout and the classic Irish Dry and tell me they’re the same. They really do taste very different.
I’m not saying the Sweet Stout was bad. It was actually quite tasty. It had a gorgeous, velvety mouthful and a great flavor with a good roasted malt character containing notes of coffee and dark fruit.
And, for some reason, an almost barrel-aged quality. Honestly, the beer had a flavor of being aged in bourbon barrels. So I asked the server about whether the beer was barrel aged.
The guy points at the fermentation tanks, says the beers were aged in those, before giving up and admitting “Sorry, I really don’t know anything about beer.”
Sigh. That was a few weeks ago. I went back very recently to find the rotational has changed to American Dark Wheat (Dunkelweizen, 5.2% ABV, 18 IBU). I was asked repeatedly to add a half-priced floater to the beer, and I just don’t understand why you would want to do that to a craft beer.
After a different bartender grabbed the pint glass from the cooler (???), and with a minimum of talk, I was drinking the brew. Quietly. Did hear the guy next to me ask for details on the beer, to which the bartender replied “It’s probably on Untappd or Beer Advocate by now.”
It was, of course, but details. Please. They would be able to tell you the proper name of the stye, as well as making it ‘American’ by lowering the traditional weizen esters of banana and clove and bringing the hops up a bit. It’s not bitter, but significantly rougher and less fruity than your average wheat beer.
The entertainment was nice. And by entertainment, it was watching a guy in a Firestone Walker shirt that was clearly interested in, but now was completely bored by, a woman 7 years out of her sorority talking his ear off while downing her third glass of wine.
The things you see in an airport.
If you do make it to Airside C, then by all means go to Cigar City. My onyl hope is that the servers there will be more understaning of what they serve and that out of town beer enthusiasts will definitely be going to them.
Drink Florida Craft,