Hops & Props is a beer fest where craft beer geek meets aviation enthusiast. If either of those describes you, this is your event.
The ticket price is steep, at $95 per general admission ticket for a 3-hour event. However, once inside it’s all you can eat and drink (3 oz. tasters) and it’s a fundraiser for the Museum of Flight, which in their own words, is “the largest independent, non-profit air and space museum in the world.”
Hops & Props is the one beer fest that has escaped me during my past 4 years of living in Seattle. Always a sold out event, ticket sales are often unannounced with short notice being an understatement. This is the first year I have been able to acquire tickets. Besides the venue, Hops & Props sets itself apart with the beer selection. If you’re an avid beer drinker like me and always looking for something new to quench your thirst, Hops & Props has you covered. The 2017 event featured over 140 beers and ciders and while many were from Oregon and Washington, the list included breweries from Canada, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Belgium, Germany, Alaska, and California.
Nearly the entire museum is up for exploration with breweries and food stations spaced throughout the T.A. Wilson Great Gallery, William E. Boeing Red Barn, J. Elroy McCaw Personal Courage Wing, and the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery. If those names don’t mean much, simply put you are surrounded by historical artifacts, state-of-the-art exhibits and interactive aviation experiences. The T.A. Wilson Great Gallery alone features over 39 historic full-size aircrafts including a DC-9 jetliner.
McCormick & Schmick’s was the food sponsor, catering the entire event with each food station featuring different menu items. The first food station in the main gallery included: Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese, Traditional Mac & Cheese, Sweet Potato Garbanzo Bean Salad, Winter Faro Salad, Vegetarian Focaccia Sandwich Bites and Shepherd’s Pie. Near the Courage Wing was a Street Taco Station while in the Mezzanine of the Great Gallery was a slider station with various meats and veggie patties to choose from. Select dessert stations included brownies, cookies, brioche sandwiches and coffee. The food was varied enough to please most people including those with dietary restrictions.
Like all beer fests, the small details matter and Museum of Flight knows how to play host. The event started at 7pm, but doors opened for general admission at 6pm. February in Seattle can get cold and the Museum allowed guests to wait in the lobby and wander the museum store prior to 7pm. ID’s were checked at the door with a line leading to the front ticket counter where we were given our wrist bands, pint glasses, museum maps and comprehensive tasting guide. Free parking and free coat check were a plus along with the live music. Since this a public facility, there are many restrooms throughout the venue. Beer-fests are perhaps the only place on earth where the line for the women’s restroom is shorter than the men’s; Another plus for the ladies in attendance.
There were a few details I would like to see improved for future years.
- Water stations – I never saw a single water station throughout the entire museum. There were non-alcoholic beverages such as coffee and soda, but I did not see water available to the attendees.
- More trash cans or beer dump buckets– Will all the food stations and mass amounts of beer to try, there was rarely a place for me to discard my trash or the occasional unwanted beer.
- Navigating the museum layout – Even with the map, I had a hard time navigating around the crowds in certain galleries and nearly missed the Space Gallery, which is located in another building across an exterior pedestrian bridge. With all the people and a few signs on the bridge door, I walked by the bridge entrance 4 times before finding my way to the additional beer. Luckily the volunteers and museums docents are always helpful.
- I did feel rushed. I think 3 hours was not enough time and it’s easy to get caught up in the aviation exhibits. Because I arrived early and had time to read through the tasting guide, I was strategically making my way to specific booths. By 9pm, (only 2 hours into a 3 hour event), a few of the booths were already out of the beers I wanted to try. I also did not make it up to the second floor of the Courage Wing. I think 4 hours would be better for this event.
In summary, if you can afford the ticket price, this is a beer event worth trying. The Museum of Flight is a world-class facility and I especially enjoyed the diversity of the beer and food options. I can’t think of a better organization to support and I look forward to 16th Annual Hops & Props next year!