Skopit, an educator at a local school district, spawned SFL Hops from a meetup group he formed in 2015 and turned his appreciation of local craft beer into a thing.
The group's first event was at Gramps in Wynwood January 30, 2015, when it hosted Sud Swap, or a weekly meetup group where audiophiles and ale heads share bottles and mixtapes. One year later, Skopit says, the group expanded its ranks to more than 500 locals and 1,800 (now more than 3,000) followers on Instagram.
Now SFL Hops holds regular gatherings and travels all over South Florida, visiting breweries and brewpubs to sip and mingle. The group has no member dues, although Skopit encourages members to plunk down a few bucks from time to time to offset the cost of some events.
These days, Skopit spends most of his free time searching for and recruiting other members, and the effort has paid off. To celebrate, he has organized his first major festival.
Adam Fine's Craft Beer Cartel (557 SW 12th Ave., Fort Lauderdale) will host the event, featuring mostly local breweries serving craft beer. Though the list hasn't been finalized, more than 20 Florida breweries from Islamorada to Fort Pierce have confirmed their participation, including Funky Buddha, Concrete Beach, Wynwood Brewing, Lincoln's Beard, Descarga Brewing, FIU Brewing, Biscayne Bay Brewing, 26 Degrees, Orange Blossom, the Tank, Devour Brewing, Holy Mackerel, and MIA Brewing.
Ticket prices range from $8 to $38. Festival admission costs $30 and includes all-you-can-drink samples. The full package includes the festival plus a bottle-share event for $38. But you can simply pay $8 for the bottle share only, minus the festival.
If you choose this option, you're expected to bring two "spectacular" bottles of beer to share. Also, expect to sample 30 to 60 extraordinary beers at this event, which Skopit says is more for true connoisseurs. "There's no trading or taking anything home," he says. "It's all happening right then and there."
Proceeds from ticket sales will be given to Animal Aid Unlimited, a nonprofit animal rescue and hospital that Skopit says survives entirely on donations. The organization will also have its own tent set up, Skopit says, and will probably bring some animals.
When buying a ticket online, you'll receive a discount by using the code "sflhops." Once the ticket is purchased, a world of beers awaits. "It's mind-opening to be able to see all the different styles," Skopit says.
SFL Hops Second-Anniversary Party
2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, February 4, at the Craft Beer Cartel in Fort Lauderdale. Purchase tickets at eventbrite.com. Use code "sflhops" for a $10 discount on festival tickets.