Beer fest highlights lesser known beers

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Domestic beer, import beer, craft beer and home brews were sampled by thousands Saturday afternoon at the 4th Annual Top of the Hops Beer Festival. The four hour long festival offered two ounce samples of beer.

And with 185 beers at the event, organizers say those who attended will now have a good idea of what to look for when they head to a grocery store or bar.

All kinds of drinks were being poured for folks looking to taste something new in the way of beer or cider.

Attendee John Maske says he and his wife are open to trying any flavored beer at the festival.

"Beer's really kinda starting to catch on and develop its own sub-culture. We got to really enjoy beer and it's something we really enjoy doing," said John Maske.

Since its beginning, organizers say the Top of the Hops Beer Festival has grown with more 85 more vendors.

"The whole purpose is for people to come here and not necessarily understand or know what type of beer and leave wanting to buy that," said Top of the Hops Project Manager Trevor Starnes.

"This is a perfect a event for people who want to go to the store and pick up something new and don't really have that need to buy a six pack of beer that maybe they don't want to spend the money on not knowing what it taste like," said Rex Distributing Craft Brands Manager Randy Bressner.

The event helps highlight craft breweries. This year seven Mississippi craft breweries were featured at the festival. Mississippi brewery owners say since Mississippi changed its beer laws it has opened the doors for them to offer more variety.

"The law changed a few years ago, going from five to 10 percent enabled for someone like me to come in and instead of making one style of beer, we're able to make really any kind of beer we want," craft brewery  owner Andy O'Brien said.

In addition to the domestic, import and craft beer vendors there were also some South Mississippi home brewers offering beers made with ingredients like Sriracha sauce.

"That's one of the joys in home brewing you can't find a commercial beer that has poblano peppers and agave nectar in it. But as a home brewer we can make that," said Gulf Coast Home Brewers League member Mark Cowley.

Before the event wrapped up people had a chance to check out their blood alcohol level with an alcohol analyzer machine.

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