It's no surprise South Mississippi will toast craft beer connoisseurs with two hopping events this week, since the majority of Americans live within 10 miles of a local brewery, according to brewersassociation.org.
The Coast's own breweries and brewing enthusiasts -- including Chandeleur Brewing Co., Crooked Letter Brewing Co., Biloxi Brewing Co., Gulf Coast Brewers League and Lazy Magnolia -- will highlight the third annual Craft Beer Tasting at Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Come for the beer tasting, but stay for the free pretzel necklaces and pizza while supplies last. Guests must be 21 or older to attend and enjoy a robust selection of ales, lagers and pilsners.
This year's event is free to WAMA members and only $10 for nonmembers, but reservations are encouraged. Details: 872-3164.
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Craft beer lovers are a passionate group who recognize the difference in brews made with either Cascade hops or Centennial hops. They can appreciate the distinc
tion in a barley-based beer and one that marries barley with wheat. With consumers branching out beyond domestic light beers, beer-themed events have surged in popularity as microbreweries and regional craft breweries crop up across the country.
South Mississippi's demand for beer variety will be on display at the sixth annual Top of the Hops Beer Festival at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum & Convention Center in Biloxi at 5 p.m. Saturday. Presenting those sought-after beer pairings, tastings and craft beer cocktails from the Mixology Garden, the festival attracts thousands of beer lovers -- from aficionados to those who just enjoy a cold beer.
"We're expecting about 2,500 people this year," said Kendra Simpson, event marketing manager at the Coliseum. "And we get a good mix of those who know a lot about craft beer and want to try the new selections and those who just enjoy it and want to learn more."
Whether you're an expert or simply want to indulge, head over to Top of the Hops to learn how to cook with beer, get the basics on brewing and more. Participant tickets range from $35-75 with designated driver tickets available for $15 and $25. Details/tickets: 594-3700.