SFLHops meetup group gathering for Second Anniversary Beer Festival in Fort Lauderdale

When Stuart Skopit goes out drinking these days, he does so with 900 friends, a fellowship of craft-beer fans brought together through his meetup group, SFLHops.

The resident says his close female friends prefer wine while his male buddies prefer to stay home with the kids. So he created his own network of hop heads.

“My guy friends are on lockdown these days,” says Skopit, 41, and a Broward County educator by day. “But I wound up finding this big community online. I was just hoping to meet a few new friends and have drinks with them.”

A few new friends turned into 900 beer lovers on Meetup.com, where the group originated in 2015, and hundreds more across SFLHop’s Facebook page and Instagram account. This Saturday, Feb. 4, they will come together again for the SFLHops Second Anniversary Beer Festival, a roundup of 24 local breweries pouring about 30 varieties of craft beer in the parking lot of Craft Beer Cartel in Fort Lauderdale.

Organizing a beer festival is a first for Skopit, whose SFLHops group hosts brewery meetups, bar crawls and “bottle shares,” gatherings where die-hard drinkers bring, trade and share rare suds from around the country. SFLHops has hosted some 120 events around South Florida, including crawls in Wynwood and Hollywood and beer dinners, where members pair entrees at restaurants serving international fare with beer from that country.

Being an SFLHops member, which is free, has its perks: During events at Khoffner Brewery in Fort Lauderdale and Bangin’ Banjo Brewing Company in Pompano Beach, visitors sampled beer in flights.

Rallying 24 local breweries to pour beer at his festival was hardly difficult, says Skopit, who has built friendships with local breweries through SFLHops.

“A funny thing happened when I got 15 breweries to confirm. Nine more started calling me,” Skopit says. “It’s really starting to catch fire now. The hardest part of organizing is the time it takes, and all the money goes back to the group.”

Saturday’s festival will feature food trucks (Frankie Dogs, Tuto’s Cuisine) and live music from classic rocker Dave Itkin of Spitfire Dave. A portion of ticket sales will benefit Animal Aid, a Coconut Creek-based no-kill animal shelter.

The SFLHops Second Anniversary Beer Festival will take place 2-6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, at Craft Beer Cartel, 557 SW 12th Ave., in Fort Lauderdale. Admission is $30 for festival, $38 for VIP and $8 for the bottle share, where patrons must bring two bottles. Through Feb. 1, use promo code “sflhops” at checkout for a $10 discount via Eventbrite.com. For future SFLHops events, go to Meetup.com/SFLHops.

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