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BILOXI -- What's brewing in Biloxi is the fourth annual Top of the Hops Beer Festival at the Mississippi Coast Convention Center on Saturday and the Wednesday launch party for three private label beers at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino.

Crooked Letter Brewing Co. in Ocean Springs is brewing the new beers for the Beau Rivage and the companies will have adjacent booths at the festival to get the word out.

Those who attend the festival can learn about beer and food pairings and choose samples from more than 150 beers.

Wednesday from 7:30 to 9 p.m., free sampling of the three new beers is open to the public at Coast in the Beau Rivage.

The casino joined with Paul and Wanda Blacksmith, owners of the Crooked Letter Brewery, to brew three distinct styles of beer, said Bruce Cartwright, the resort's food and beverage manager.

The only place to get them is at the restaurants and clubs at the Beau Rivage.

The new Sheep Shank Ale is a very drinkable beer that is full of body and low in bitterness, said Paul Blacksmith. It has a 5.01 percent alcohol by volume, similar to well-known domestic beers.

Double Half Hitch is an India pale ale that is 7.5 percent ABV. He describes it as "extremely full bodied, malty and hoppy" and said it takes a certain palate to appreciate.

The new Anchor Bend is a full-blown imperial stout that is 9 percent ABV.

"There's nothing borderline about this," he said. It's very robust, and not inexpensive. "The malt character of this beer is going to taste very woody, coffee and chocolate as well," he said. "But it's not brewed with coffee and chocolate -- that's how robust the grains are."

Cartwright said anyone who spends time on the Gulf will recognize the labels chosen for the beers.

"Those names are all nautical knots and very familiar to our area," he said.

The new beers will be available in 12-ounce bottles and on draft, and will be provided through Rex Distributing.

The Blacksmiths will educate the staff about the origins of these beers and the rest of the Crooked Letter line.

The more complex beers mostly will be served in the restaurants, Cartwright said. "These are beers that are going to go well with food."

For years the Beau Rivage had 10-15 microbrews. "We currently carry over 40," he said, including three of their own.

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