Tickerific Tampa, FL brewer Cigar City Brewing (CCB) will be at New York's excellent Blind Tiger Ale House this evening, premiering over 20 kegs of their beers for the first time. Top man Joey Redner has decided to travel up and meet the punters, and while he's there I imagine he might have an interesting chat with the BT folks about how to deal with hostile local politicians.
It seems that a routine application to convert their temporary "wet-zone" permit which allows operation of a tap room at their brewery, was refused when CCB failed to secure a majority vote in support from Tampa City Council. They have two more chances, or will be compelled to close the tap room, which their website claims will lead to job losses at a small business which has seen a tenfold increase in staffing since they commenced operations.
CCB cites "...politics, a willful lack of understanding and... a downright embracing of unfair practices", and according to whispers I heard, it does appear that CCB may be in the local council's crosshairs due to family connections. Redner's father (also Joe) has his own Wiki page identifying him as the father of the nude lapdance, and his operation of a well-known strip club, and the conflicts that has caused with City Fathers, plus his desire to participate in the local political scene, has set teeth on edge for some years. CCB's tasting room may now be a victim of this, if the scuttlebutt is true.
The Blind Tiger knows about overcoming local political opposition. When they moved to their present Bleecker St location in 2006, they were faced with withdrawal of their alcohol licence, with local residential opposition cited for the action despite the bar being on one of the busiest tourist thoroughfares below midtown Manhattan. A vigorous petition and write-in campaign finally moved the local State Liquor Authority, and the bar was permitted to open with initial restrictions.
Borrowing this tactic, there's an online petition aimed at moving Tampa City Council, and CCB are urging supporters to write to their local councilperson in a bid to get their four votes. I don't hold any brief for CCB - I've tried some of their bottled beer (the Marshall Zhukov RIS was very good) - but I don't like seeing beer bars and breweries bullied or played as pawns by local politicians. Hopefully CCB gets the right result. One word of advice though, lads - notoriety is probably not a helpful word to use when describing your business...
Pics from Rick Lyke and pubcrawler.com