Capitalizing on the growing popularity of craft beer in the U.S., Carnival Cruise Lines has entered into an exclusive agreement to offer Tampa-based Cigar City Brewing’s craft beers on all of its Florida-based ships.
Cigar City’s Florida Cracker Belgian-Style White Ale and Invasion Pale Ale will be available on 13 Carnival ships sailing from five Florida ports beginning this week. Combined, those ships carry more than two million guests each year.
The agreement, the first partnership of this magnitude between a craft brewery and a major cruise line, was announced Sunday, July 13, at an event aboard Carnival Legend at the Port of Tampa.
“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,” says Eddie Allen, Carnival’s vice president of beverage operations. “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.
"Cigar City Brewing could not be happier than to partner with another great Florida institution, that being Carnival Cruise Lines. Everyone at Cigar City Brewing is thrilled to start this wonderful partnership," says Joe Burns, national sales manager for Cigar City Brewing.
Carnival has 13 Florida-based ships sailing three- to eight-day itineraries to the Caribbean, Mexico, and The Bahamas, including Carnival Breeze, Carnival Conquest, Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Glory, Carnival Victory, and Carnival Splendor from Miami; Carnival Sensation, Carnival Sunshine, and Carnival Liberty from Port Canaveral; Carnival Freedom from Fort Lauderdale; Carnival Paradise and Carnival Legend from Tampa; and Carnival Fascination from Jacksonville.
Cigar City’s Florida Cracker Belgian-Style White Ale is named for the colonial-era “Cracker” cowboys of Florida. Florida Cracker Belgian-Style White Ale is brewed with unmalted wheat, orange peel, and coriander, which ends with a spicy, dry finish. The beer pours cloudy straw in color and has moderate notes of orange peel, coriander, and hints of vanilla.
Gold in color, Invasion Pale Ale is Cigar City's version of a “session” beer (a beer with a relatively low alcohol content), in a hoppy ale that celebrates Tampa’s alleged history of being a pirate hideout. The tropical aroma offers suggestions of peach, mango, lime, and papaya. Invasion has a light caramel malt character laced with a slight breadiness, and the finish offers a bounty of tropical and citrus hop flavor and bitterness.
Cigar City Brewing packages most of its beverages in aluminum cans. Aluminum cans are the most widely recycled containers in the United States, and aluminum may be reused repeatedly without loss of strength or quality. From a beer drinker’s perspective, cans have zero light penetration to better preserve the integrity of the brew; they chill faster and are easier to store; and have a longer shelf life than bottles.
Cans also are shatterproof and therefore are allowed where bottles are not, such as poolside. Producing new cans from recycled aluminum reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 95 percent.
Florida Craft Brewing Trends
Over the past decade, the number of craft and microbreweries has grown dramatically across the United States, and consumer demand for craft brews continues to increase. In 2013 in Florida, the state’s 66 small breweries produced 130,000 barrels (4.03 million gallons) of craft-brewed beer for an economic impact of $875.8 million, ranking the state 12th in the nation.
Nationwide in 2013, the overall beer market represented total sales of $100 billion, of which $14.3 billion was craft beers. That represented a 20 percent increase in craft beer sales and an 18 percent increase in production volume over 2012, according to the Brewers Association.