Coast Cheers For Beer

Coast cheers for beer


BILOXI -- Beer lovers enjoyed all the brew that is legal to drink in Mississippi at the second annual Top of the Hops Beer Festival at the Coast Convention Center on Saturday.

About 65 breweries filled sample-sized mugs for the thousands of eager tasters. All the booths were packed within moments of the doors opening, and some serious samplers hung pretzel necklaces around their necks to provide palate cleansing between brews.

New this year, the festival included a cask garden where some popular beers were aged for added flavor. Lazy Magnolia Brewing Co. of Kiln updated two of its most popular beers in the cask garden. Its Pale Ale was aged with oak cubes and dry hops, and the Jefferson Stout was re-fermented with coffee, cocoa, coconut and cherries and aged with vanilla and mint.

“I’ve been all over the world in the military and this is the best beer I have ever tasted,” taster Rusty Shoultz said of the stout. “It tastes like a Thin Mint cookie.”

Butch Bailey of Raise Your Pints, a nonprofit dedicated to modernizing the state’s beer laws, said the beers at the festival are only a small portion of what is enjoyed in other states. He said Mississippians are missing out on about 85 percent of the beers sold in other states because of an alcohol cap of 5 percent by weight.

“Mississippi has some backwards beer laws,” Bailey said. “Small businesses are losing out to businesses in Louisiana and Alabama because of the regulations.”

Mississippi is also one of two states that outlaws brewing beer at home -- although it is legal to make wine, Bailey said.

Ron Guzman of Main Grain Home Brew Supplies gave a demonstration of home brewing by making legal root beer on a stove top at the festival. He said the law that prevents home brewing refers to malt beverages and is probably more appropriately applied to the distilling of whiskey than beer.



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