Restaurant Beer Profile:  Cigar City Brewing


He is aware that high-end craft beers still have a ways to go to gain broad acceptance in fine dining restaurants. But he feels things are changing rapidly in the right direction. He offers Cigar City's specialty products in the restaurant-friendly 750 ml bottle size, just like wine, which makes them convenient to share among multiple guests at the table.

"Our higher gravity beers can more equally compete with wine in a restaurant setting," Redner adds, "but you must know your product to sell $20 to $30 bottles of beer."

To help make that sale, his specialty products have their own taste twists that make them memorable. When people try them, they just have to talk about the tastes. Cigar City has excelled at bringing new flavor components to their specialties. Customers are excited by the different tastes they are finding in these beers.

For example, Cigar City's Humidor Series beers are aged with cedar, which adds a new yet hard to define taste layer that the market has responded so positively to. In fact its Humidor Series India Pale Ale won the coveted gold medal in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Beer category at last fall's Great American Beer Festival. The Hunahpu's Imperial Stout, with its dark, mysterious chocolate flavors, and its cousin Marshal Zhukov's Imperial Stout have caused a storm of activity on the beer fan web sites and become some of the most sought-after and highly-rated beers of the year. New specialties are released every month.

All this buzz around Cigar City's specialty beers doesn't mean a restaurant can't also benefit from offering the brewery's standard fare. Beers such as India Pale Ale, Brown Ale and Saison (in summer) are among the offerings available to restaurants.

”Our best account for our Jai Alai India Pale Ale is a local restaurant—it’s a straight-up dinner place, not a bar," says Redner.


[Aug. 2010]  Like the excitement a creative chef/restaurateur brings to the market when opening a new restaurant, new craft breweries can also make a big splash even when they are small. One perfect example of this is Tampa's Cigar City Brewing Company.

Restaurants are often hesitant to offer a new product from a new supplier when their current line up seems to be working fine. But an exciting new specialty product can spice up sales by creating renewed enthusiasm among wait staff hungry for a fresh hot tip recommendation for their customers.

Only a little over a year and a half old, Cigar City Brewing Company is causing quite a stir with both its innovative specialty beers and the high quality of its traditional styles. Brewery proprietor Joey Redner is a craft beer enthusiast with a passion for intriguing beer and food parings that grow from the blended cultures of the local region. He also has a good ear for what restaurants want.

"At the end of the day when offering a new beer, a restaurant wants to know how did customers respond and is it profitable," Redner says.

Joey Redner is founder and owner of Cigar City Brewing Company in Tampa, Florida. His small brewery proves that you do not have to be large or have a long history to produce high quality beers that create market excitement.

Cigar City's distribution footprint is small but growing. It's already available across Florida, in New York City and parts of southeastern Pennsylvania.
If you are fortunate enough to operate a restaurant in those areas, take a closer look at Cigar City beers to see if one might work on your beer list.

Testing a new beer by adding it as a limited-time seasonal selection or as a weekly featured special will provide the opportunity to assess customer response to the new label.

To support the introduction of any new beer, don't forget the importance of staff training. A brief written description and sampling of the new product along with suggested food pairings will provide wait staff with the tools they need to increase craft beer sales.

Go to the Cigar City Brewing Company Web Site for additional information on the beers and their availabilities.

See a brewery when visiting wine country

Wine isn’t the only tasty beverage fermenting in the tanks of Napa and Sonoma counties. Nor is wine the only local product to take gold at prestigious international competitions. And wineries aren’t the only ones with interesting, educational tours.

Why not take in a great artisan brewery on your next trip to California’s wine country. Many of the microbreweries have tours and tasting rooms that welcome your visit.

Wine Country Beer is your guide to finding the best local breweries in the northern and central coastal areas of California. Sample world-class, award winning beers. Learn more about the brewing art and the master crafts people who make it happen.

Cigar City offers an impressive portfolio of both high-end specialty and standard style craft beers. Pictured are Jai Alai IPA, Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout and Humidor Series India Pale Ale.

We find the Jai Alai IPA to be a well balanced, very food-friendly beer that could be a strong point on a restaurant beer list in the American pale ale category. The brewery web site recommends Jai Alai India Pale Ale with spicy crab cakes, Thai curries, jerk chicken, Indian vindaloo, sharp cheddar, apricots, enchiladas con salsa verde, and brie with orange marmalade. With this list as your base, you can fill in items from your menu that might pair well with this beer style. You can pair the Imperial Stouts with Stilton or aged Gouda, roasted or fire-grilled beef, and coffee or chocolate desserts.

While founder/owner Redner is undoubtedly the lead spirit behind Cigar City's brewing diversity, it is head brewer Wayne Wambles who is the hands, as in handcrafted. The recognition his beers are receiving is a testament to his artistry.

Cigar City team member Tim Ogden summed up the brewery's philosophy as "trying to keep our heart close to passion and craft."  They have no doubt succeeded in this goal by putting their own spin on beer, making something familiar new again. What more could a restaurant ask of a beer?