Cigar City Brewing is taking its craft beers to a new level — sea level, that is, signing an exclusive agreement to serve its specialty brews on the 13 Florida-based Carnival Cruise Lines ships.
Carnival will begin serving Tampa-based Cigar City Brewing's Florida Cracker Belgian-Style Ale and Invasion Pale Ale on the ships sailing from five Florida ports, beginning Sunday.
The deal came together thanks to a Carnival executive's love of Cigar City brews, said Joe Burns, national sales manager for the brewery.
“Carnival did a lot of the work for us. Eddie Allen, the cruise line's vice president of beverage operations, really likes our beer and he sought us out at an event we were doing in Miami,” Burns said. “Within a month, we had a deal with Carnival.
“The best part about it is that Joey Redner, our boss, had on his bucket list to have one of his beers on a cruise ship,” Burns said. “So, we did this quickly and quietly and surprised him.”
Already, about 94 percent of the Cigar City's beer is sold in-state, Burns said. The beer the company will supply to Carnival will come from the 6 percent now being shipped out of state.
Allen said he is thrilled to add Cigar City craft brews to the Carnival line-up.
“I've only been in Florida for two-and-a-half years and I've seen craft beer just explode,” Allen said. “By far, my favorites are being made by Cigar City.
“Carnival continues to seek high-quality brands to enhance our guests' experience, and Cigar City Brewing has been rated among the top craft breweries in the world,” Allen said. “Cigar City Brewing craft beers are a fantastic addition to our already extensive beverage menus and will provide our guests a chance to enjoy two delicious and refreshing beers that aren't available on any other cruise line.”
Allen noted that Carnival also offers its own private label draught beer, ThirstyFrog Red, which is available throughout the fleet. But, he added, one of his goals has been to add craft beers brewed locally at ports used by the cruise line and Cigar City fit the bill perfectly.
Of its 13 Florida-based ships, two Carnival ships sail from Port Tampa Bay, Paradise and Legend. Legend will end service in Tampa in August and will be replaced in October by Pride.
Cigar City Brewing was founded by Redner, who sold his first batch of commercially produced beer in 2009. The company now offers a line of four main beers, three seasonal brews, a “Nitro” collection of higher alcohol-content beverages and special edition beers.
Carnival Cruise Lines serves about 2 million guests annually in Florida on its three- to eight-day cruises. The company expects to serve nearly 100,000 Cigar City beers in the first year of this agreement.