Red Mountain Entertainment of Birmingham, Alabama and Blue Deuce Entertainment, out of Mandeville, Louisiana are partners that primarily promote concerts. Early in 2010, they decided they wanted to delve into the Craft Beer Festival business. The very first Craft Beer festival was held in 1982 in Boulder, Colorado. The hallmark of Craft beer is innovation. The brewers develop new styles, using unique twists beyond the traditional, historically familiar beer selections. Craft beer is now exploding across America and South Mississippi’s own Lazy Magnolia Brewery is making it’s mark in a big way.
The first Craft Beer event for Red Mountain and Blue Deuce was done in March of 2010, in the beautiful city of Mandeville. The turn out exceeded expectations. Striking while the iron was hot, another event was held right away in Lafayette, Louisiana at the Cajun Dome. Once again people came out in great numbers to check out this new and exciting experience. Just a few weeks after the second Louisiana fest, the partners held a third event in Greenville, South Carolina and the crowds continued to grow. It was quite obvious to the partners that they had tapped into a very fertile market, and made immediate plans to expand the Beer Fest tour to other cities. In 2010, they took the beer festivals to six different locales.
When the event came to Jackson, the promoters became acquainted with Coast distributors Rex and F.E.B. The representatives of both businesses were very impressed with what they saw and urged them to bring the show to Biloxi. It was decided that the event would be held the following year, the first one out of the box for 2011. The Coast Coliseum and Convention Center will set the stage for the premiere edition of Top Of The Hops Beer Fest Biloxi which will undoubtedly become a favorite annual event on the Gulf Coast. The date is February 19th, and you don’t want to miss a moment of the fun.
The name, Top Of The Hops Beer Festival will one day be used as a recognized brand. National print partner, Draft magazine is enjoyed by beer enthusiasts throughout the country. Draft magazine will advertise all Top Of The Hops events which will keep people up to date on when and where the tour will be next. Lazy Magnolia is the presenting sponsor for Top Of The Hops Beer Fest Biloxi. The Isle Casino is also a primary sponsor for the event. Very attractive hotel packages with two tickets are being offered for the Beer Fest weekend through the Isle. The Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association, Gulf  Coast Chapter is the VIP Club sponsor. 300 tickets at $60 each were earmarked for the VIP area and they have already sold out. VIP guests are permitted to enter the event an hour early and they will also get to sample beers that will not be available to the general public. Food and refreshments will be served as well provided by three outstanding Coast restaurants. The Beer Garden sponsors are the Covington Brew House, Diamond Bear, Blue Moon and Abita. Please remember, the VIP area will be open during the entire event, so do be sure to take advantage of everything available throughout the venue, no need to rush. Regular admission is $35.00 per person.
Designated Driver tickets will be available at a reduced price for those that want to attend the event but will not take part in sampling any of the beers. O’Doul’s, proud maker of their delicious non alcoholic brew, is the sponsor. You can accompany your spouse, friends, or significant other and allow them to drink, while you refrain so that everyone gets home safe and sound. Mike’s Hard Lemonade is also a sponsor although they make malt beverages, which are not classified as beer. A lemonade stand for adults will be provided by Mike’s, and you must drop by and enjoy a glass. Sam Adams always sponsors a fantastic feature called the Brew University. Sam Adams is the largest Craft beer brewery, producing more than 2.1 million barrels a year. At previous Beer Fest events it was standing room only when classes were in session. Get there early to get a seat!
South Mississippi beer enthusiasts have just begun to learn about this exciting new market. An American Craft Brewer is small, independent and traditional. The annual production is 6 million barrels or less. A barrel equals 31 gallons. Craft beer is generally made with traditional ingredients like malted barley but sometimes very non-traditional ingredients are used to create a very distinctive taste and character. Today, there are a total of 1,640 U. S Craft Breweries and the amount continues to climb. The hope is that Top Of The Hops will bring a new awareness to the public about the wonderful array of Craft beers available in America. A grass roots, non profit organization, called “Raise Your Pints,”  is on a mission to help bring the highest quality beers of the world to Mississippi. Our state considers any beer containing more than 5% alcohol by weight to be illegal. The federal government  allows each individual state to construct their own alcohol laws. All forty nine states have modernized their laws to allow a free market, and gives adults the option to have whatever beer they might want. For some unknown reason, Mississippi is the last state to undertake such a proposition. Various beers such as Barleywines, Belgian dubbels and triples, Double IPA’s, and Imperial stouts are all illegal here. Raise Your Pints is attempting to get the law changed, and the group has garnered tremendous support to date. It has been said that 86 of the top 100 beers are illegal in Mississippi. True beer aficionados make “beer runs” to Louisiana, Arkansas and Tennessee in order to purchase the beer they want. Once again our government is making our decisions for us, and it is time for Mississippians to have this ridiculous law changed.
During Tops Of The Hops, guests will have the opportunity to sample 150 Craft beers, from about fifty different breweries. Some of these amazing brews will be brand new to the people of Mississippi, others may only be available in very limited quantity. At this event, there will be no shortage of wonderful, unique beers to try. The promoters have been gearing up for this for quite some time, and they have taken every step to insure that the well will never run dry. The fine people at Miller & Miller Attorneys at Law are providing every visitor with color coded wrist bands. Upon entrance, everyone will receive and a special mini mug, which will hold 2 ounces. Throughout the day you can enjoy unlimited samples. Guests are encouraged to visit every station and sample every beer. Try them all…or find your favorite and go back again and again, it’s your choice.  It will be a veritable feast of every kind of beer imaginable – all for the taking for the price of admission. You will be introduced to the world of Craft beer and experience things you have never experienced before. This very special afternoon promises to be one you will long remember.
Four different beer gardens will be set up on site. The layout of the event will be similar to a trade show. Fifty to sixty breweries will be on hand, with plenty of servers at each station. The lines will move quickly and no one will have to wait very long to get their sample size of each delicious choice. After each tasting, there will be water outlets to swish out your mug, so not to corrupt the flavors by mixing them one on top of the other. If you don’t care for something that you tried there will be disposals as well, so that you may pour it out and begin again with a nice fresh sample of something else. The event sponsors took great care in making sure that everything is at your fingertips as you travel through the beer gardens and enjoy everything there is to offer. Local musicians will provide the entertainment.
Go back to school during The Top Of The Hops Beer Fest Biloxi!  You can attend one or all of four of the Sam Adams classroom seminars, lasting between 30 and 45 minutes each at the Brew University. Learn how beer is made and how the ingredients come together. Top chefs from Coast restaurants will do demonstrations and offer instructions on cooking with beer. Learn how to pair the right foods when serving beer at your next party. Brew University students will also have the opportunity to taste a variety of foods that go exceptionally well with the Craft beers being served. Each class will have seating for 50 people, but if the class is full…don’t be shy, find a place to stand and come on in!  There will be lots of surprises and you will come away with a new appreciation of this favorite adult beverage. Butch Bailey, President of Raise Your Pints will be a special guest.
At the door you will receive a beautiful, full color, 32 page festival guide that will be filled with information to enhance your tour.  A map is included that makes your journey even more fun, and insures that you won’t miss anything.  The guide also lists every Craft beer available to sample with detailed descriptions of each. And once you are introduced to these delicious and unusual array of flavors…you can look up local establishments in the guide and find out where you can go to enjoy your favorite Craft beer right here on the Coast.  As you stroll through the massive venue, you can make notes in the guide (a pencil will also be included) so you won’t forget your favorites. The guide makes for a wonderful memento of the day, but t-shirts and other cool things will be available for purchase as well. Thousands of people are expected to attend. This is going to be an incredible event, and tickets are flying out the door. Tickets are available through all Ticketmaster outlets.

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