About Best Florida Beer
The purpose of Best Florida Beer is to aid in the development and promotion of both home and commercial Florida brewers, their craft beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts. BFB accomplishes this by organizing fair and credible competitions that distinguish excellence in beer with qualified judges. In addition we increase awareness of commercial breweries through consumer education, marketing, events and competitions.
BFB strives to serve as a model of cooperation in its effort to unify the Florida brewing community by establishing partnerships and cultivating resources with like organizations statewide.
Integrity through careful selection of well-qualified judges and fair competitions
Value delivery through distinguished and reputable practices, guidelines and feedback from judgings
High quality product and beer promotion
Reciprocation to those that contribute to the organization in any way
BFB strives to be known as the entity that hosts the premier beer festival and competition in Florida.
The primary goals of Best Florida Beer, Inc. are to:
- Create recognition and prestige for Florida beers.
- Broaden the judging pool for Florida beer competitions
- Promote brewing at any level
- Distinguish excellence in beer through Florida beer competitions.
- Monitor and assure a healthy beer industry within the state
- Foster and promote the Florida brewing industry
- organizing Florida competitions for both homebrewers and commercial brewers
- creating awareness of brewing techniques and principals through marketing, events and social engagement
- establishing partnerships with organizations statewide and cultivating resources together as a team in the craft beer industry
The History of Best Florida Beer
Founded in 2002, Best Florida Beer Championships came to fruition at a time when the local craft brewing industry was still in a stage of infancy. The Florida State Fair Homebrew Competition served as Florida’s largest competition for home brewers. Tampa BEERS and Dunedin Brewers Guild were the original co-organizers of this event. When these organizations recognized the opportunity to expand the competition by including commercial brewers in addition to home brewers, the idea for the Best Florida Beer Championships was born.
With support from the Florida Brewers Guild (Florida’s craft beer lobby), BFBC was established and word spread that the State Fair could now include commercial as well as homebrew in this FLORIDA ONLY competition.
Over the next 5 years, the rise in popularity of craft beer and the instrumental role of the Best Florida Beer Championships, gave way to the formation of the Florida Homebrew Circuit.
This Circuit was created to track the number of medals in a calendar year for individual homebrewers and homebrew clubs for 7 state-wide competitions.
- Coconut Cup (Miami)
- Best Florida Beer Championships (Tampa Bay)
- Hurricane Blowoff (Palm Beach)
- Hogtown Brew-off (Gainesville)
- First Coast Cup (Jacksonville)
- Commander Saaz Homebrew Blastoff (Melbourne)
- Sunshine Challenge (Orlando)
- Awards are presented annually at the Sunshine Challenge for the best brewer and homebrew club. These awards are sponsored by Best Florida Beer.
While it’s basic structure called for BEERS and DBG to alternate between running events and competitions there began a discussion in 2011 for re-organization. These groups wanted to increase participation among other Florida homebrew clubs in the planning and organization of the Best Florida Beer events. The question then became how to motivate other clubs to partake in this work-load.
The solution was proposed in the notion of profit sharing. As a result, 2012 marked the first year of profit sharing with other homebrew clubs in the region. With the tremendous outpouring of participation that stemmed from this evolution came the need for further restructuring.
In 2013, a Board of Directors was established to continue the progression of the Best Florida Beer Championships and help guide the Florida Homebrew Circuit. By encouraging and recognizing outstanding brewers and their beer, Best Florida Beer hopes to provide a focal point for advertising and promoting craft brewed beer on all levels in Florida.
Meet the Board
BFB Board of Directors
Best Florida Beer is comprised of a voluntary group of craft beer enthusiasts from a variety of backgrounds who joined together for the good of the cause – quality Florida beer. Below is our Executive Board of Directors.
President Gemma Adel
Gemma enjoys her days as a comic book grader at Certified Guaranty Company where she found a passion for craft beer through travels to comic conventions across the country. She began homebrewing in 2009 as a way to increase the diversity of her craft beer options joining the Homebrewers’ Association of Manatee and Sarasota (HAMS). The following year Gemma successfully passed the BJCP exam achieving the rank of Recognized Homebrew Judge. In 2011 Gemma served as President of HAMS and is still involved in promoting homebrewing through HAMS. In 2012, Gemma founded the Sarasota Smarty Pints a local chapter of a women’s craft beer education club Barley’s Angels organized through the larger Pink Boots Society.
Vice President of Homebrewing Popy Fouch
Popy Fouch has been a member of Tampa Bay B.E.E.R.S. since 2004 and has recently served as Chairwoman and Director on the Tampa Bay B.E.E.R.S Board of Directors. As such she has overseen the improvement of club operations and the organization of many new events. Additionally, she is a member of the AHA Diversity Committee. Popy has volunteered at several club sponsored events over the years, in addition to her time with Best Florida Beer. She strives to improve the quality of her homebrews as well as helping others with the hobby. As a brewing enthusiast, Popy loves brewing all styles of beer and even incorporated beer into her wedding vows.
Vice President of Commercial Brewing Luke Gatza
Luke is a co-founder and executive veep with Maven Asset Management, a consulting firm located in Tampa Florida. As a BJCP certified beer and mead judge, he’s won a few homebrew wards, and curator of floridahomebrew.org, Luke knows a thing or two about hops and barley. Luke is one of the founding members of Special Hoperations in Tampa, and is still serving as their IT/Infrastructure Officer. Luke’s other interests involve woodworking, running, and horticulture.
Secretary Jessica Greaves
Treasurer Michelle Jonas
Director of Marketing and Communication
President 2015-2016 Mark Stober
Mark has been an avid homebrewer for 24 years and is a founding member of Tampa Bay BEERS. Mark is also one of the first group of BJCP judges in Tampa Bay, having become a judge in 1994 and has since risen to the rank of Master judge. He has been active in statewide beer and homebrewing competitions and initiatives, including having headed a grass roots organization that helped to overturn the Florida bottle size law in 2001. Mark has a keen interest in lagers and other German beer styles and has won many competition medals in these categories.
President 2014-2015 Rodney Sedillo
Rodney is a full time professional engineer with Parsons Brinckerhoff but spends most of his free time involved in homebrewing and promoting commercial brewing in Florida. He began homebrewing in 2005 with a coworker brewing in an electric turkey fryer. As one of the first members of Special Hoperations homebrew club in Tampa, he has been involved as their Competition Czar and was elected President of the club for the 2013 Calendar Year. Rodney was the 2013 BFBC Homebrew Competition Organizer. An award winning homebrewer who earned an elusive perfect score for a Brettanomyces fermented wit in 2013 at CASK’s First Coast Cup. He worked for a short time at Tampa Bay Brewing Company as a cellarman and wood cellarman, producing the brewery’s first Brettanomyoces beer, a tart saison. He hopes that is the first in a long line of commercial Brettanomyces beer.
President 2013-2014 Jeff Gladish
Jeff began brewing at home in 1990 and has since won medals in all of the Florida Circuit competitions including medals in the finals of the National Homebrew Competition as well as the gold medal in the 2013 Pro Am competition at GABF with Cigar City. He has collaborated on beers with Swamphead, Tampa Bay Brewing Company, Saint Somewhere and Southern Brewing and Winemaking. He is one of fewer than 95 beer judges to have risen to the rank of Master in the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP). He is an active member of Tampa Bay BEERS homebrew club and is a lifetime member of the National Homebrewers Association. He is owner and operator of Maztech, Inc., a specialty car repair shop in Tampa. When he is not involved in beer or brewing Jeff likes to spend time with his wife of 37 years, Ellen Holte.
Founder Mike Fouch
Mike is the founding member of this organization and of the increasingly popular Tampa Bay Beer Week. As such, Mike has helped lay the foundation for the Florida brewing circuit to flourish. Mike has been home brewing since 1993 and has used this experience to become a nationally ranked judge in the Beer Judge Certification Program. He is the former president of the Tampa BEERS homebrew club and has worked for Micro Man Distributors for the last ten years. With Micro Man, Mike specializes in the distribution of craft and specialty imported beers in Florida.