There’s a reason why this brewery is called Big Top Brewing. And yes, it has everything to do with the circus. And this guy:
This is John Ringling, perhaps the most famous resident of the gorgeous little Gulf Coast town of Sarasota. You may not readily know the name, but you know the name of his most famous product, a circus which still bears his name today: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
In the early 1900’s, John and his wife Mabel would spend winters in Sarasota. By 1927, Ringling’s operations moved entirely to Florida. John and Mabel built their mansion Ca’ d’Zan, now the John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art.
When Josh Wilson decided to stop homebrewing and open up an actual brewing facility, it was this association with Sarasota’s circus past that led him to choose Big Top as the moniker for his facility (which, awesomely enough, is situated on Porter Rd.)
Big Top Brewing cans a few of their beers for distribution in a limited area of Florida, so I was happy to snag a few for the blog (and drinking, of course). Since Sarasota was home to Ringling Bros. for so many years, it was clear that Josh had to name one beer after Sarasota’s nickname, Circus City (IPA, 6.8% ABV, 69 IBU).
Upon drinking, it’s readily obvious this isn’t your mother’s IPA. It’s thick, almost chewy and syrupy. There’s a big hop bitterness to the beer, but instead of being heavy and foreboding, it’s bright and sparkling. The beer practically explodes with citrus flavors, bold and up front with the hops. And, even though the beer falls just short of a 7% alcohol content, it sure feels strong. At least it felt pretty strong to me.
There will be more from Big Top Brewing soon. They look to have a lot of fun things coming down the pipeline. And as long as I don’t have to deal with circus clowns, I’ll be okay.
Drink Florida Craft,