As we pulled away from the parking lot, I told Kathy I wanted to write a little bit about this place. She noticed the catch in my voice, but discounted it as she knew of my long love for beer. Per old Ben proof that “God loves us and wants us to be happy”. Part of the attraction of coming to Tampa after San Diego was to check out some of the beer stops my friend Eric had recommended. Tops on this list was Cigar City. They’d been in business since 2009, a lifetime for South Florida enterprises, and produced an IPA – Jai Alai (named after the lively but now gone contests once common down here ) – that found its way to cans we’d liked up North. The place was only 2 1/2 miles from our unfortunately sleazy AirBnB on Neptune. But the Tampa we’ve seen since coming from the airport to Kathy’s convention hotel at the airport Hilton Westboure has yet to show its heart, but plenty of arteries and capillaries. We ventured back and forth on these vessels, back to the AirBnB after Kathy’s talk, then on to Cigar City, much in need of a beer after an afternoon of frustration. Their building is a big modern barn in the middle of an industrial park, hardly the charm we had come to expect in La Jolla.
But we entered into the huge expanse of a recently renovated space and an array of taps behind shining brewing kettles, we knew we were in the right place.
It took some studying to decide what to drink, and the class was open ended. From the menu of 18 beers,
we ended up choosing: more Jai Alai (of course), Guaybera, a citrus pale ale, Florida Man, a monster double IPA, fancy Papers, one of those hazy New Englands, Invasion, a tropical pale, and Beoir Roja , a red IPA that had been aged in Jameson barrels. Two of the more potent ones came after Kathy initially closed the bill, thinking it was time to go to the smoodge session back at her meeting. Well, she missed that and I got my two more beers. But my most sublime pleasure may have come as I went to relieve myself and encountered in their rooms those old fashioned to-the-floor urinals so rapidly disappearing from so many establishments.
I commend the proprietors of Cigar City for their attention to detail. From the millions they’ve likely spent on this renovation, they’ve found a few dollars to equip their restrooms with facilities men through the ages have found especially attractive and missed elsewhere. I don’t know if I’ll ever comeback to Tampa, but I’d surely stop at Cigar City, for its quality beers and exquisite surroundings for ingestion and elimination of same.