Biloxi's Top of the Hops is good to the last drop - Sun Herald

Biloxi's Top of the Hops is good to the last drop



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BILOXI -- On Saturday night, they drank a honey wheat, they drank a lager, they drank a porter, they drank a hard cider at the fourth annual Top of the Hops Beer Festival at the Coast Convention Center in Biloxi.

With an estimated 3,000 people in attendance, it has become one of the Coast's best known and best attended beer-tasting events, featuring unlimited samples of craft beers from around the world, along with food, live music and games.

"It's slowly grown over the years," said Trevor Starnes, Top of the Hops project manager. "I think we started with about 40 brands of beer and now we're at 60-plus and we have about 175 different types of beers and ciders.

"I think over time, people are figuring out that it's not just Bud Lite and Miller Lite any longer."

In addition to musical entertainment by the Coates Brothers, VIP guests enjoyed food from Blow Fly Inn in Gulfport.

Back again was the World of Sam Adams, in which vendors gave educational seminars on the history of the craft industry and offered rare samplings of Sam Adams brews.

The festival featured seven Mississippi breweries, including Coast favorites such as Crooked Letter and Lazy Magnolia.

Wanda Blacksmith, co-owner of Crooked Letter in Ocean Springs, said she likes to be a vendor at Top of the Hops because it "keeps the beer flowing."

She offered samples of beers such as Stabello, Mocha porter and Gypsy IPA.

Events such as Top of the Hops help make customers aware of the new brewery, which has been open a little more than a year.

"You get to meet the people who like to drink your beers, talk with them and get feedback about what the people are liking," she said. "Local people are so supportive."

Starnes said as Top of the Hops grows, it will offer about 10 new beers to sample each year.

"People are coming and finding new beers that they've never tried before and going to the package store and buying new types of beers after when they find ones that they like," he said. "I think people have had good selections the last couple of years and they're coming back for a fourth year to find something new and that's why they'll keep coming back every year."