Over three years ago, Hollywood resident Stuart Skopit had an idea to share his love of craft beer with others. Little did he know that his idea would become a South Florida success story by the name of SFL Hops. Since 2015, SFL Hops has hosted 215 events, has over a thousand members who “support local craft beer and bring awareness to the local craft beer scene through social media and events.” When Stuart started the group, he probably didn’t imagine either that three years later he’d be hosting a second SFL Hops Beer Festival. So here we are a little over a week away from the event, which starts at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 3rd at Bousa Brewing in Miami’s Little River district. I had the chance to talk with Stuart about his group and this exciting event not to be missed.
How did the idea come about for starting SFL Hops?
I was simply looking for people to go to all of these great local beer events…I figured I could start a group on Meetup.com and find half a dozen people to enjoy visiting breweries with. I never imagined that it would have grown into what it is today. The great part about this originating through Meetup is that there are so many people looking to do fun things but they don’t necessarily want to go alone. Therefore, Meetup becomes this amazing platform to bring together like-minded people. We have done a fabulous job supporting the local craft beer scene!
What kinds of activities does SFL participate in?
SFLHops does two types of events: (1) we support and attend the events put on by other breweries and (2) we put together our own unique events. As an example, when it comes to the anniversary parties of breweries, special releases or festivals, SFLHops tries to gather up as many people as possible to attend these events.
I take great pride in organizing our own unique events too. For example, I have put together many brewery crawls. These crawls are a super way to introduce people to breweries they’ve never heard of or to finally have a reason to try one that was on their radar. We’ve also hosted our own pairings such as a cheese and beer pairing at Lincoln’s Beard Brewery and another at Concrete Beach Brewery. We’re planning a dessert pairing and a jerky pairing too.
Our biggest events are our festivals. February 2017 was our first one at the Craft Beer Cartel and we had sold over 400 tickets and had to cap the tickets 48 hours before the event!
How and when did you start to think about organizing a beer fest?
When SFLHops celebrated its first anniversary, we had a huge turnout at a local bar, but I felt that for the next one it would be more appropriate to celebrate our support and appreciation for drinking locally by having a festival of our own. Therefore, last year for our second anniversary, we had our first beer festival.
What did you have to do to make it happen? What was the most challenging part about getting this fest organized?
I knew it would be a lot of work to plan a festival, but the process really is unimaginable. Planning my first festival last year was all about learning as I went along. I thought that planning for this second one would be a much smoother ride, but I couldn’t have been more wrong! I wish I had the luxury of only naming one aspect that was challenging, but truly the entire process has been extremely difficult. This year, we decided to try the festival in Dade, which has just been one bureaucratic obstacle after another. Another challenge has been that I am a team of one. I wish there was a budget for more, but there simply isn’t. That means I have had to transition through a plethora of roles from pre-planning to spending months securing breweries and vendors, and then working through all the steps presented by the city. Once the entire festival seemed to be in place in my mind, I had to then transition to the role of marketer and promoter. We have a fabulous beer festival now, but of course we need to make sure everyone knows about it!
I have been blessed as Bousa owners Enrique and Juan Pablo have been so professional, supportive and hard-working. I am excited for everyone to see Bousa Brewing and their terrific taproom!
How many breweries will be participating?
We have 37 confirmed breweries for the festival. I am proud and appreciative of the breweries that will be attending and sharing their beers. This is really what SFLHops was all about in the first place so it gives me great pride too that we can showcase these breweries and continue to support our local craft beer scene. The majority of the breweries in attendance are local from Dade and Broward counties.
What can a fest-goer expect at this event?
This is not just another beer festival! I wanted to do things that were new and fresh and really give everyone their money’s worth. I feel that I have taken three entirely different events and combined them all into one day for one ticket price! Of course one aspect is the beer festival itself featuring all-you-can-drink beer, live music by Spitfire Dave, and food trucks and vendors. The second component will be a Home brewers competition… we have fifteen home brewers competing. I wanted our Home brew competition to represent SFLHops’ goal in supporting local and learning about new offerings in our local scene so the competition is a People’s Choice where each ticket holder will receive one ticket to vote on their favorite Home brewer. The winner will receive a trophy and some other goodies!
The third component of the festival is a VIP Bottle Share…only accessible to those with a VIP ticket. Only VIP ticket holders can take part in the bottle share portion if they bring at least two stellar bomber bottles. The VIP Bottle Share gives them the opportunity to try so many more beers as well as many high quality options they may not have seen otherwise. Our VIP ticket holders receive the perks of an earlier entrance, access to the VIP Bottle Share, additional VIP beers being offered by some of the breweries, and they will be the first people to receive a free pint of a special release collaboration made by MIA Beer Company and Bousa Brewing.
Sprung will also be at our festival and will have a big game area for everyone to play and have a good time. On top of that, they will be offering some low-priced ticket deals to their event that you can only get exclusively at the SFLHops Beer Festival. There will also be wine offerings from Schnebly Winery and PRP Wine. On top of that, there will be some great drinks by Prescribed Spirits too! And we’ll even have some beer popsicles!
Everyone is welcome to attend the after party which takes place one minute after the festival ends in the taproom of Bousa which continues with this special release beer, Bloque 45 food truck and live music by Zander.
Last, but certainly not least, we are raising money for the charity Animal Aid Inc. I can’t think of a better plan than to have a blast at a beer festival all while supporting a worthy charity! On the ticket platform, anyone can make an additional donation directly to Animal Aid Inc. or support them directly at 754-223-5378.
Where can someone buy tickets?
Please purchase your tickets at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sflhops-beer-festival-tickets-42161047829 . SFLHops urges everyone to never drink and drive. However, if you arrive by car, please be prepared to purchase a parking pass that you must display on the dash of your car.
If you had to describe the fest in 3 words, what would they be? Fun, Local, Charity
So there you have it folks, everything you need to know about SFL Hops and its Beer Festival! If you want to know more about the group and join them in their events, go to https://www.meetup.com/SFLHops/ or look at their newly released website at http://www.sflhops.com/. Check them out, buy your tickets and enjoy this great event! Cheers!