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The Day I Learned How Beer is Made

February 2, 2012

After the natural splendor of Bok Tower my girlfriend and I hit the road to Tampa. Why Tampa you ask? Three words: Cigar City Brewing.

While I can’t claim to be any kind of expert or even amateur beer connoisseur, ever since I started going to the DRB regularly and associating with my beer savant of a friend, I’ve been slowly but surely refining my brew palate. A few months ago I had the opportunity to attend a Cigar City sponsored event where there was an incredible selection, including everything from Puppy’s Breath Porter to Maduro Oatmeal Brown Ale (Caramel Graham Cracker). Since then, the Florida brewery has had a spot on my radar, with their Maduro Brown ale in particular as one of my favorites.

Naturally when I began planning my first event, (Won’t You Be My Neighbor?) I had Yo Miami’s resident beer expert reach out to them and was pleasantly surprised that he actually got a positive response back. Though they weren’t able to supply us for that particular event because of the short notice, it was great that they took the time to talk to us rather than just blow us off.

Now that I found myself heading out on a road trip across Florida, with Cigar City at the top of a short list of predetermined destinations I figured, What the hell? I shoot an e-mail over to the contact we had made there (I later found out it was their VP) and let him  know I’d be stopping by at the tasting room later that week. Lucky for me he was able to see me and sit down to talk about potential opportunities for us to work together in the future. I can’t honestly compare my experience at the brewery with any others since it’s the only one I’ve been to (or at least nowhere bigger than a microbrewery); all I know is they were warm and welcoming and served us delicious beer.

After starting off with a flight (4 smaller glasses filled with beers of your choice) in the tasting room, we were taken to the production area. Amidst the towering tubs and canisters, I couldn’t help but marvel at how little of them there seemed to be for what I had taken to be this big-time manufacturer. It really allowed me to see their roots and how they progressed from the smaller equipment to larger ones, to at this point expanding the entire facility completely.

You can tell it’s a company that started out by figuring out how to do something well, and only growing at a rate which allowed them to maintain the quality of their product as they expand it’s reach. This is exactly the attitude I think can be found in most of the up and coming companies in Miami and South Florida (or I guess the US in general). The idea that you don’t have to try and figure out how to blow up right away; that you can take the time to learn what you do well and how you can do it without giving in to the temptations of slaving for the bottom line.Tune in to the next YoFlo segment where I’ll cover my foray into St. Pete, a town not so different from ours, if much more laid back.

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