Staff photo / Alan ShawThe brewery
Sarasota's first production craft brewery, Big Top Brewing Co., started shipping its kegs of beer right after Thanksgiving, but the tasting room at 6111 Porter Way has been closed. That changes Saturday, according to CEO Mike Bisaha, when the tasting room opens its doors to the public at 1 p.m. I got an advance look this afternoon.
Staff photo / Alan ShawWelcome mural
One of the many murals painted on the walls by Big Top's staff artist, Jessee Hatch, a graduate of Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota.
Staff photo / Alan ShawTasting room
Big Top has made a lot of progress since I last visited in September. Here the tasting room is ready for thirsty visitors. After Saturday's grand opening, which will feature live music, the tasting room will typically be open from 3 to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, Bisaha said.
Staff photo / Alan ShawTank board
This chalkboard shows what Big Top is brewing. These beers aren't ready to drink; think of this board as a coming soon teaser.
Staff photo / Alan ShawWhat's on tap
This board behind the long bar shows what's available for drinking. In addition to the top three beers -- Big Top's flagships -- expect to find some special offerings. Big Top is aiming to have 10 beers on tap. Some will be available to go in growlers.
Staff photo / Alan ShawThe beer
A sample of Saison Cirque, Big Top's Belgian-style farmhouse ale. Earthy and fruity and deceptively strong at almost 8 percent alcohol.
Staff photo / Alan ShawSharing the love
CEO Bisaha says Big Top's one-offs and special brews aren't going to be exclusive to the tasting room. "Our business model is supporting bars and resturants," he said. To that end Big Top will be sending these beers out, because Bisaha said the tasting room isn't meant to be competition.
Staff photo / Alan ShawMaster control
The master control unit for Big Top's brewing equipment. The brewhouse is at left and several fermenters are visible in the background.
Staff photo / Alan ShawTaps
You may have seen Big Top tap handles at local bars and restaurants. Look for cans in stores soon.
Staff photo / Alan ShawGift shop
You can pick up a Big Top shirt and growler during your visit.
Big Top Brewing Co. in Sarasota to open tasting room Saturday
/ Monday, February 10, 2014