Updated for 2018!
You may have heard: there’s a craft beer festival in town tonightÂ (and if you can’t tell, we’re a bit excited).
The 4th annual Mississippi Craft Beer Festival, presented by Fondren Renaissance in partnership with Capital City Beverage and Southern Beverage Company, brings both distributors together to offer 100+ craft brews from over three dozen Mississippi, regional and national brewers on the grounds of Duling Hall (Event details, tickets and a brewer list can be found here). This is a 21 and up event.
Even if this is old hat for you long-time enthusiasts, a helpful guide is, well, helpful. Peruse the advice below and be ready for what promises to be an amazing night.
You may be saving room for all those tasty beer samples, but please, eat an early dinner or snack — about an hour before you arrive. Drinking on an empty OR full stomach can be uncomfortable and inadvisable. If you don’t heed the advice and need something on your stomach, you can come and go (with your armband and tasting glass) in search of food. See the list of sponsor restaurants below for a suggestion on where to dine.
Do your homework and check out the beer list (see it here) before you attend the fest. Use the same strategy you would use at a theme park–hit the high-demand beers first while the lines are short. Then as the lines grow, branch out to less-crowded ones.
Though the Mississippi Craft Beer Festival doesn’t allow outside food or drink, they DO allow you to get creative with your neckwear! Need convenient access to a palate-cleansing snack? Try a pretzel necklace — a string of pretzels you can munch on throughout the event.
Water, that is. It’s important to hydrate. There will be lots of free, cold bottled water available. Take advantage of it.
The Mississippi Craft Beer Festival is an outdoor event — in June. Dress appropriately and comfortably. Wear comfortable shoes. There’s not much in the way of a place to sit on the festival grounds. For your convenience, though, if you need a spot, Duling Hall will be open — and the air running.
Talk it out
With brewers and brewer reps on hand, it’s the best time to talk to them about their beers. There’s usually a story about how that beer came to be and you are in the perfect place and time to hear all about it. Oh, be nice to the volunteers who are helping to pour. They may not have all the answers, but they’ll do their best to help you get the answers you want (and that goes for all volunteers — just ask and they’ll gladly help)!
Explore new territory
The Mississippi Craft Beer Festival is one of the best ways to taste beers you’ve never heard of. Why chug the very same brew you get every time you go out with your crew? Understandable: you like what you know. But take a step out of your comfort zone. Try the new and hard-to-get beers on the first pass (you’ll figure this out when you review the beer list. Ghost in the Machine anybody)?!Â They often are the first beers to run out, so don’t waste time drinking a beer you can always drink, while someone else finishes up the last drop of the latest and newest.
Slow and Steady
There are always a few folks who let their drinking get away from them. The point of the Mississippi Craft Beer Festival is to try many beers, not to drink uncontrollably. Taste the beer, get an impression of it then either dump it (they have buckets) or take another sip. The festival is three hours (four if you are a VIP). It’s not a race and there are no awards for “Most Likely to Babble, Stumble and Make a Fool of Oneself.”
The worst time to figure out how you’re getting home after the Mississippi Craft Beer Festival is when you’re ready to go home from the festival. That little detail should be hashed out well in advance. Find a designated driver (they can attend for only $10 — tickets available at the gate) or download the LyftÂ app for your smartphone. Don’t chance it: a DUI — or worse — isn’t worth it.
Dude, where’s your car?
Parking is at a premium in the neighborhood, especially with sidewalk construction underway. Here’s the deal: park where you can (legally and reasonably speaking) and plan to walk a bit. Please don’t park at a restaurant and leave your car there for three hours. This takes up spots for their customers who will be eating while you are festing. And please, don’t park in the McDade’s parking lot across from Duling Hall:Â you WILL be towed. Lock your cars and do not leave valuables visible.
Looking for dinner — before or after – or after fest drinks? May we recommend you check out one (or more) of our participating sponsor restaurants? They are Babalu Tapas & Tacos, Barrelhouse, Basil’s, Brent’s, CAET, The Pig & Pint, Rooster’s, Sal & Mookie’s New York Pizza and Ice Cream, Saltine and Walker’s Drive-In. If you’re a VIP, though, food will be available on-site as part of your ticket!
If you have any questions or need help while at the Mississippi Craft Beer Festival, see one of the staff or volunteers at the gate.
Enjoy — and tag your social media posts with #mscraftbeer
Thanks to BeerFests.com and beer.about.com for tip help and inspiration.