By Sean Tuohy and Daniel Ford
I always knew cigars and scotch were a great combination, but wasn’t too sure about cigars and beer.
Thanks to Tampa Bay’s Cigar City Brewing—whose beers include “Wandering Pelican,” “Jai Alai,” “Florida Cracker,” and “Puppy’s Breath”—I’m pretty sure all my reservations about the pair are eliminated.
Sean Tuohy sat down with the brewery’s owner and founder Joey Redner to find out more about the company and its history.
Sean Tuohy: Give us a little background on your history and how you started brewing.
Joey Redner: Cigar City brewing grew primarily out of my desire to have a packaging craft brewery in Tampa and basically being tired of waiting for someone else to start one.
ST: For someone not from Florida, why did you pick Cigar City as the name of the brewery?
JR: Tampa was the cigar capital of the world for a century. At peak production more than 50 million cigars were rolled, by hand, every year.
ST: For a newbie what beer would you recommend them to start with from Cigar City?
JR: Invasion Pale Ale.
ST: What was your biggest mistake brewing?
JR: We once had a batch of beer that just did not attenuate properly and we thought it would finish conditioning in the bottle. It didn't. And it was not yummy.
ST: What is the process of making a new beer? Take us through the steps from the time the idea light bulb goes off until it’s bottled.
JR: It usually starts with the spark of a putting a twist on something classic or traditional style wise or looking to a culinary inspiration. From there the ingredients are discussed and debated to try to get the end result inspired by the original idea. It is often a multi-step feeling out process to get it just right.
ST: Could you describe your beer in one sentence?
JR: We brew beer we like to drink.
ST: If you were in Prohibition times, do you think you’d be bootleggers?
JR: Absolutely. No doubt about it.
ST: What does the future hold for Cigar City? Will we be able to find Cigar City around the world?
JR: Probably not around the world, but hopefully around the Southeast.
ST: If you were stuck on a deserted island with just one case of one of your beers, which one would it be and why?
JR: Invasion Pale Ale. It is just a great all around drinking beer.