Walk on the Wildside Sour Dinner

May - 16 2016 | no comments | By

As part of our 4th annual Walk on the Wildside competition, we are having an exclusive sour beer tasting and dinner  to serve as our WOTW AWARDS CEREMONY for the competition.  We will have commercial examples of world-class sour and wild beers paired with TBBC's palate of flavors.   We do plan to sell out, so please buy your tickets early.

The dinner will be held on June 11th at Tampa Bay Brewing Company Westchase starting at 6:30 pm.  

Please see this link to purchase tickets : http://www.specialhoperations.org/walk-on-the-wildside-dinner/

If you have any questions, please email wotw@specialhoperations.org.

Special Hops Takes Over Coppertail’s New Tasting Room during TBBW

Mar - 09 2015 | no comments | By


March 11, 2015 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm


Coppertail Tasting Room
2601 East 2nd Avenue
Tampa, FL 33605

Cost:Free event to members, $10 for guests (at door)

Contact: Allan Myers Email

As part of Tampa Bay Beer Week, Special Hoperations is taking over Coppertail Brewing's brand new tasting room the night of Wednesday, March 11 from 6 to 9 pm.

12 of the club's members will be serving beer, and Coppertail's regular lineup will be available as well. That's a lot of great beer. The best part? Members get in free, and non-members only have to pay a $10 cover for unlimited samples.

This is one of the club's biggest events of the year and is our top fundraiser. So please spread the word and invite your friends to come out! It's a great way to celebrate Tampa Bay Beer Week, with some of the most innovative brewers in the Bay!

For more information, visit the event Facebook page.

Belgian Strong Intraclub September 21st

Sep - 16 2014 | no comments | By


This Sunday is our Second meeting of the month and also our last Intraclub Competition of the year. Attached you will find the link to the entry form and labels to print to attach to your bottles.
The category is Belgian Strong Ale which includes the following:
18A. Belgian Blond Ale
18B. Belgian Dubbel
18C. Belgian Tripel
18D. Belgian Golden Strong Ale
18E. Belgian Dark Strong Ale
Only two bottles are needed. Please attach labels with rubber bands and fill out labels completely. If you have trouble opening the link, let me know.
As always, judges and a steward or two are needed. Please let me know.

September Brewsletter

Sep - 05 2014 | no comments | By

Tickets for Halfway There

The Halfway There Festival, a rare local beer festival celebrating the halfway mark to Tampa Bay Beer Week, is tomorrow, and tickets are still on sale. Special Hoperations will have its own table, and several members will be pouring at the festival. If you've held off in making the commitment to go, homebrew club members can receive a $5 discount on tickets. To purchase tickets and see the brewery list, use the discount code HB-SPHOPS.Come out and show your support for the club members and all the local Tampa Bay area breweries! 

Tampa Bay Oktoberfest

Tampa Bay Oktoberfest is October 10-13 at Curtis Hixon Park. As we did last year, Special Hoperations is going to be brewing on-site and pouring beer all three days.We are in need of volunteers who would like to bring their systems and brew, as well as those who would like to bring finished beer to serve.If you would like to brew and/or pour, please contact Jennifer Sedillo at jennifer@specialhoperations.org

Women's LIBation Brew Day

The 2nd annual all-women's brew day is set for November 15 at Southern Brewing. We invite all women in the Tampa Bay area to come out, no matter if they have brewed before or not.Guys can attend and support (i.e. drink) but only women will be participating in the brewing.Any women interested in participating, please sign-up on the Special Hoperations website

Updated Homebrew Club Standings

After Special Hops impressive showing in the First Coast Cup, we've trimmed the distance to second place in the Florida Homebrew Circuit standings.With Commander Saaz as the last competition of the year, we are within striking distance in third place behind CASK and Tampa Bay BEERS. We're still in the running for Homebrew Club of the Year with an impressive showing in Commander Saaz.Cowford Ale Sharing Klub - 105 ptsTampa Bay BEERS - 98 ptsSpecial Hoperations - 95 ptsCompetition Winners

First Coast Cup

Greg Brown
2nd Best of Show Mead - Apple Orchard Mead
Gold - Weizenbock

Matthew McKinnon
Gold - Vienna Lager
Silver - Munich Helles
Bronze - Bohemian Pilsner

Eric Koenig
Silver - Weissbier
Bronze - Oktoberfest

Alex Giroux
Silver - Sweet Stout

Justin Ferstl
Silver - Specialty Beer

Carlise Stoup
Silver - New England Cider

Michael Stinson
Bronze - Specialty Beer

Allan Myers
Bronze - Spice, Herb, Vegetable Beer

SAAZ Entry Drop Off

Aug - 08 2014 | no comments | By


As you should know, entries for the Commander SAAZ competition are due to be picked up from Dunderbaks at noon Thursday the 16th of August. You can also mail them if you're so inclined. They need to be received by August 29th.

Webb’s Honey
21777 SR 520
Orlando, FL 32833

Hugh has offered to pick up entries from Southern on Wednesday the 15th and take them to Dunderbaks.
This is just for Special Hoperations. Please do not spread this to other clubs as Southern does not have the room to store other clubs entries.

If you are planning on coming to the Tuesday meeting, I would recommend bringing your entries with you... along with a few extras to share with the club because I'm sure they will be medal winners.

Just a reminder, we are only a few points behind in the Florida Homebrewers Circuit and you can't tell me it wouldn't be awesome to bring that trophy to its new home at Southern for the next year. Power in numbers. There are close to 600 entries in the competition already, whatever you've got, get it in there. You may not think it's great, but a judge could think it's the best thing under the sun.

Good luck!

July Brewsletter

Aug - 08 2014 | no comments | By

Robert Hilferding wins NHA Homebrewer of the Year

As many of you already know, Special Hoperations own Robert Hilferding was named the National Homebrewer's Association 2014 Homebrewer of the Year.

Robert won Best of Show at the National Homebrew Competition, among 8,172 entries, with his Way Off Kilter Scottish Ale. Below, he answers a few questions about the beer, the competition, and how he got started brewing.

Congratulations, Robert!

Tell us about your award-winning beer. Without giving away your trade secrets, how did you come up with the recipe?

Robert Hilferding - I brewed a Scottish Ale/60 Shilling beer called Way Off Kilter. It’s malty with a medium low body and a low ABV. I use a Scottish Ale yeast which provides a slight smoky taste and a light fruitiness. The recipe was an online recipe modified for my system and the weirdness of Zephyrhills water.

How did you find out that you won the National Homebrew Association Homebrewer of the Year?

RH - On Sunday after the event, I noticed that Facebook has a cryptic post, "Congratulations to Robert Hilferding for BOS of AHA.“ I yelled to Terry how shocked I was that the poster would prank me on Facebook! I looked at the American Homebrewers Association website and, sure enough, it was real. Honestly, it still has not sunk in.

What was the process like as your entry progressed through the rounds?

RH - The first step was a “lottery” to determine if I could submit any beer and if so, how many. The lottery came back and the entries were limited to four beers.  I had to choose a regional judging site from 12 different sites and shipped the bottles to the Nashville judging site. There two of the 4 entries received a certificate and the Scottish won a blue ribbon.

At that point I had to send 3 more bottles to the final round in Michigan. Also required was uploading the recipe, and submitting a photograph.

Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been brewing, and what got you started?

RH - On Christmas day 2012, I opened a present from my son, Gregg. Inside was a 1-gallon “brew your own” beer kit. I remember thinking to myself that this was way better than socks or a necktie and gave it a go.

Two weeks later I bottled 7 bottles of American Pale ale (and spilled two more on the floor because I kept forgetting to shut off the feed line.) I don’t remember if the beer was that good, but to me at the time it was AWESOME! The only issue - it was a lot of work for a few bottles of beer.

I decided that I would like to try it again and turned to the internet to find a local home brew store. I walked out of the store ready to make my first 5 gallon batch, Kelly’s Belgian Wit, from an extract kit. I followed the directions, which were more extensive than the first kit, and got drinkable results. I was hooked and hooked hard. It’s been financially downhill ever since! Last year I brewed 190 gallons of beer. No all of it made it to bottle or keg.

What advice do you have for other prospective competition enterers?

RH - My advice to everyone is to enter every contest possible. While there are some variations in judging (Way Off Kilter has received very spotty results), very soon a pattern will develop that you can use to improve your brews. Then go to the club and ask for help  to solve any issues. Compete and repeat. The beer will get better and better.

Another thing to consider - Beer competitions are based on compliance to particular styles. To maximize the chances to win, I stay with styles that are more rigid and less free-style. Styles 20 to 23 are wide open to interpretation where a style like 6 - Light Hybrid Beer has rigid “rules” and commercial examples.

The other thing I like to do is research. When brewing a particular style, I will go and try as many of the commercial examples as I can find. While it is hard work, somebody has to do it!

Honestly, how cool is it to be the National Homebrewer of the Year?

RH - It is cool, sure. It is also humbling and overwhelming. I consider this a win for Florida Beer and a win for Special Hoperations.

Mead Intraclub Competition

July 27 is the Special Hops Mead intra-club competition. The competition will include all of BJCP categories 24, 25 and 26.

You only need to enter a minimum of 12 ounces, in any configuration of bottles. The dropoff location is Southern Brewing and must be turned in by Saturday, July 26.

Fill out the registration form to enter.

Competition Winners

Walk on the Wild Side

Dan Raynes
3rd Place Best of Show - Gary the Cat Rulez #1
Gold - Florida Weisse
Gold - American Style Sours
Silver - Belgian Style Sours
Silver & Bronze - Other/Specialty Sours

David Gilbert
Bronze - Belgian Style Sours

Greg Brown
Bronze - Specialty Sours (mead)

Pro-Am Beer Project

Matthew McKinnon
Best of Show - Sometimes You Don't
Gold - Specialty - Sometimes You Don't
Silver - Specialty - Peppy PeachAllan Myers
Gold - Stout - Por Mi Amigo
Gold - Fruit - Cherry BlondRobert Hilferding
Bronze - American Ale - Flat Tire
Bronze - Stout - Twist & Stout

June Brewsletter

Jun - 01 2014 | no comments | By

Walk on the Wild Side & Sour Fest

One of the most unique beer festivals of the year is coming up on June 14. Sour Fest at the Cajun Cafe on the Bayou is an all-sour festival. For sour-heads, it's not one to miss.

Special Hops will have a table at the event, and the following sour beers will be poured by members of the club:

  • Brett pale ale
  • Nectarine Lambic
  • Gose
  • Berliner
  • Mango Berliner
  • Apricot Brett Saison
  • Sour Cider (Flanders Red with Apple Cider)
  • Flemish red

In addition to the festival, we'll also be announcing the winners of the 2nd Annual Walk on the Wild Side competition.

In fact, we are still looking for judges and stewards for the WotWS competition. Judging will be held this Saturday at Coppertail Brewing. If you'd like to help, please register to volunteer.


The Central Florida Home Brewers are organizing the nation's largest mead competition, Meadlennium.

The registration window is currently open and closes on June 14. The judging will take place on June 21 in Winter Springs.

Registration info

Opportunities to Pour

There are a couple upcoming opportunities to pour your homebrew at events. It's never too early to plan, so get your brew days scheduled if you'd like to participate!

BadAss Beer Fest - June 28
Tampa Bay Brewing Company is hosting a 3,000+ person beer festival to celebrate the ground breaking of their new production facility in Oldsmar.

SeptemBEERfest - September 27
This one is a ways off, but it's just been announced. It's a unique "blind" people's choice competition to select the best beer.

Competition Winners

Hogtown Brew Off

Eric Koenig
Gold and 2nd place BOS - Hefeweizen

Matthew McKinnon
Gold - American Barleywine

Robert Hilferding
Silver - Irish Red Ale

David Gilbert
Silver - Flanders Brown Ale/Oud Bruin

Allan Myers
Bronze - Fruit Lambic

German Wheat & Rye Intraclub

Chris & Brandi Goller
Gold - HefeweizenGreg Brown
Silver - WeizenbockKenny Baggett
Bronze - Hefeweizen

May Brewsletter

May - 01 2014 | no comments | By

Walk on the Wild Side

A Walk on the Wild Side sour and Brettanomyces beer competition window opens May 1.

2 bottles are required for entry, from 12 oz to 750mL, and can include Grolsch swing-top, corked and caged, and waxed caps.

We're also looking for judges and stewards to help with the judging on June 7 and 8 at Coppertail Brewing. If you can volunteer, please register.

For more information, visit the Walk on the Wild Side page.

AHA Big Brew Day

There are still spots available at both Brewer's Tasting Room and Southern Brewing for the May 3 AHA National Homebrew Day.

Southern Brewing will provide RO water, electricity and a 10% discount on any ingredients purchased that day. If you're interested in brewing, contact Cindy at marketing@southernbrewingwinemaking.com.

The Brewer's Tasting Room has space for up to 15 brewers. They also will provide water and electricity. If you would like a spot, contact Allan at allan@specialhoperations.org.

Even if you're not brewing, come on out and support those that are at either location. It's a fun time and you may pick up some tips to improve your own process at home.

Hogtown Brew Off

The Hogtown Brew Off competition window is now open through May 10. If you are interested in entering, see the Hogtown Brewer's website for more information.

Competition Winners

National Homebrew Competition

Congrats to Robert Hilferding for advancing to the final judging of the NHC with his Scottish Ale! The next round is in June, so we'll stay tuned.

Hurricane Blowoff

Matthew McKinnon
Best of Show, American Barleywine

Allan Myers
Silver, Flanders Red
Silver, Dry Mead

Greg Brown
Silver, Braggot

Doppelbock—A Heart Warmer

Mar - 30 2012 | no comments | By

Doppelbock (literally "double bock") is a stronger and usually darker version of the Bavarian Bockbier. It is exceptionally malty, with very little bitterness. Standard Doppelbocks may have as much as 7% alcohol by volume. In the strongest versions (around 10 to 13%), you can actually taste the alcohol.