PH3’s Craft Brewery Tour: Wop’s Hops Brewing Company
Still bearing a faded sign of previous tenant Stokes Fish Market, Wop’s Hops opened their doors in November 2014 as the first brewery to open in what is now a buzzing brew community, with four breweries within walking distance of each other in Historic Downtown Sanford.
Co-owned and run by Peter Minelga and Greg Piecora, a Navy veteran who retired from the Florida Department of Corrections, was introduced to craft beer during a scuba trip to Yap Island in the western Pacific Ocean. The hotel had an on-site brewery, where he spent time talking with the brewmaster and was fascinated with the process. He decided to get into home brewing and quickly became a well-known name in local Sanford when his home-brews became a fixture on Marco Dino's Italian Ristorante menu. So why the name Wop’s Hops? It’s a rather playful reference to his Italian background: WOP stands for WithOut Papers.
The Wop’s Lay of the Land
Let’s talk about the most striking feature. If you’re outside admiring the newly rejuvenated, Sanford Avenue, you can’t help but notice the worn ‘Stokes Fish Market’ painting on the side of the building, which adds character and pays homage to the area’s history. Inside? Cozy. Not cramped, but because Wop's bar area was so popular, we set up camp at one of their handful of tables. With a blend of quirky posters, historical signs, and what seems to be vintage family photos, Wop’s definitely threw out that ‘Cheers’ vibe, Italian-style.
Classic Foods with Italian Twists
From the Wop-sicle, their signature meatball with sauce and parmesan cheese on a stick, to their Wop Wings with Maple Mustard being our favorite, you’ll enjoy a little taste of Italy in every bite from their menu.
PH3 Top Brews
Almost every Wop’s brew had some sort of Italian connotation, we preso il volo (or took flight) and we chose three for our top brews:
Marco Luppolo // IPA, 6.3% ABV
Marco Polo was an Italian merchant that traveled the world to find the finest commodities—Marco Luppolo was perhaps his cousin who searched for the finest hops. El Dorado hops lend a potent tropical and peach aroma and flavor without overpowering the malt flavor. A real treasure, indeed!
Romulus Rye // Porter, 5.6%
Malty, super rich flavor with a slight and spicy bite of rye on the back end, along with a silky dry finish. Rich, spicy, and silky dry. What more could you ask for? Probably some Wop Wings.
Hail Caesar! // American Blonde Ale, 6.6% ABV
A smooth blonde ale hopped with only Sorachi Ace Hops for a lemony crisp finish with a lemongrass aroma. Your best friend on a hot Florida summer’s day.
As the pioneers of breweries in Sanford, which is unofficially becoming known as “Beer City”, Wop’s Hops is a neighborhood favorite with personality and history—a place where "There's a beer for anyone.”