"If it doesn't exist, create it"
- Wayne Wambles
An innovator, creator, pioneer, and all around great person; Wayne Wambles has pushed Cigar City brewing from small upstart brewery to a multi-national power house brewing beers that are revered around the world, all while staying true to the history and culture of Cigar City's home State of Florida. See, tradition and culture matter, they matter to Cigar City and they matter to the hoards of people who flood the Cigar City taproom every single day. Just ask the 30 people waiting in line to get in on a regular Saturday morning at 10:30 in the morning!
Cigar City are the leaders in Florida, and Wayne and Joey Redner (cigar city's vocal and proud owner) know it; although, they never set out to be anything more than a brewery that produced consistently good and true beer. It's the Florida immigrant history that built Tampa and it's the immigrant history that both Joey and Wayne want to highlight. As Wayne put it best: Cigar City is doing nothing more than trying to put Florida's tradition and history into a liquid.
For those of us lucky to have been able to sit down with Wayne one-on-one and have a conversation with him, it becomes obvious immediately that you are talking to a genius. A person so in-tuned with his craft and his mission, gifted with an ability to understand the scientific processes that are undergone when different ingredients are introduced into his beer, and someone who can pick out the exact yeast strain a brew used in their latest batch of beer. Seriously, just walk up to a bar and order a beer with him. Best of all, amidst all the accolades he's earned and the respect he's garnered in his field, you will never meet a more humble person who spends too much time improving his craft to worry about what his ego is doing. It's truly refreshing to meet someone who has earned the right to an ego but chooses not to use it!
We sat down for an hour or so outside of 7venth Sun Brewing in Dunedin, Fl, to discuss Wayne's start in brewing, the work he's done and is currently doing at Cigar City, the 2014 Florida legislative session and the lessons learned from the experience, and the future of craft beer in Florida and around the country. The full interview is on this page with loads of our photos from our day at Cigar City and with Wayne in the "snapshots" section. We hope you enjoy, but most of all, we hope you learn something from the man behind our favorite brewery's beer. Oh and yes, we were outside, please ignore the passing cars!