Tampa- With the birth of Cigar City Brewing’s new reserve society, El Catador Club, Tampa’s largest craft brewery has taken another Florida first: they are the first brewery in Florida to start a reserve society.
What is a reserve society? A reserve society is an exclusive club whose membership guarantees access to beers before the general public. The reserve society idea says that if someone invests money in joining a brewery’s club before certain beers are even brewed, then that person will get those beers before nonmembers. This idea began with Placentia, California’s The Bruery who began the first craft beer reserve society around 2010. The idea soared in popularity and spread to other craft breweries around the United States. Now this idea has taken root in Florida with Cigar City Brewing.
El Catador Club has benefits beyond just beer, and the joining price is $120 if paid in cash, or $126 if purchased by a credit card.
That joining fee earns members:
*One bottle of five different barrel-aged beers, released throughout an indefinite membership period. One of those bottles will be a Barrel-aged Hunahpu.
*The right of first refusal of next year’s membership (if you want to join for a second year, then you can renew before the general public gets to join)
*The opportunity to buy more bottles of club-exclusive beers, depending on batch yields.
*Advance notice of beer releases and opportunity to buy bottles before non-club members.
*A Catador Club T-Shirt
*10% off on tasting room purchases
*Possible advance tickets to Cigar City Brewing events
*Possible access to members-only beers on tap or in a growler at the CCB Tasting Room.
While the brewery is not allowed to ship beer to anyone, there will be an opportunity to appoint a trustee for people who do not live within the boundaries of Tampa.
While $120 is a fair amount of money for some beer enthusiasts to spend on beer at one time, Cigar City’s choice of this price point for entry into a reserve society is very competitive considering that many reserve societies around the U.S. begin around $300, topping off with The Bruery’s Hoarders Society whose membership costs in excess of $700.
Editor’s Note: While it has been pointed out by close readers that Funky Buddha in Oakland Park has a similar situation with their Founders’ Snifter Club, it can be noted that Cigar City’s reserve society differs in name and in their invitation to non-local craft beer enthusiasts to still be a part of the club. This is not to discount the hard work or ideas of Funky Buddha, merely to note the differences between the two. They two clubs are similar in function but seemingly different in purpose.