Make us your home page

Local craft beer of the week: Ringmaster Raspberry Berliner Weisse, Big Top Brewing

There's little question about it: Tampa Bay is an attention hog when it comes to Florida craft beer. It makes sense, with the density and quality of beers coming from the area, but it's easy to forget that there are breweries just south of the Sunshine Skyway putting out quite a few fine beers, many of which are widely available in local distribution.

One of these is Ringmaster Raspberry Berliner weisse from Sarasota's Big Top Brewing, which recently bested 70 other beers to win a silver medal in the style at this year's Great American Beer Festival. Its success called for a packaging run, so you'll currently find Ringmaster in canned six-packs at your local beer store, as well as at Big Top's tasting room at 6111 Porter Way in Sarasota.

It's appropriate that a Florida brewery would perform well in the category — after all, Florida breweries were largely responsible for the enduring trend of heavily-fruited Berliner weisse, a.k.a. Florida weisse — but a silver medal is no token nod. This is a good beer.

The label art depicts Big Top's cartoon ringmaster, Sir Wellington, standing amidst floating raspberries and lemons, the two fruits used in the beer. The beer is a hazy pink-purple, with a frothy, white head. The nose is lemony-tart: part lactic acid, part actual lemon zest.

The rise of Florida weisse has conditioned us to expect bombastic fruit flavors and shocking tartness, but Ringmaster is comparatively subdued, with a rich, smoothly tart raspberry flavor and clean, dry finish that plays well with the beer's restrained acidity and authentic fruit flavor.

A straightforward and balanced fruited Berliner in cans is a relative rarity that we could always use more of. Big Top's version has done Florida proud, and it has a silver medal to show for it. If you're in the market for a crisp and even-keeled Berliner, this is a solid pick — no toll required.

— Justin Grant, tbt* correspondent

Have a suggestion for the Local Craft Beer of the Week? Brewers, have a limited release coming that we should know about? Email

Local craft beer of the week: Ringmaster Raspberry Berliner Weisse, Big Top Brewing 12/07/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 6, 2017 7:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Straz Center reviewing Tavis Smiley theatrical tour in wake of sexual misconduct allegations


    The theatrical tour about the death of Martin Luther King Jr. that broadcaster Tavis Smiley is slated to bring to Tampa in March is still on schedule, according to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, though it is under review.

  2. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Dec. 15


    Katy Perry: The Teenage Dream songstress is ready to Roar as she sets off on a tour in support of the album, Witness. Synth-pop duo Purity Ring opens. 7:30 p.m., Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $45.75-$195.75. (813) 301-2500.

  3. From Crystal River to Brooksville, branch out to shop on these unexpected main streets


    You don't have to stare at a greeting card to picture a bustling old main street lined with decorated shops and lampposts. Historic small-town shopping districts are easy to find, and more charming than Walmart.

  4. New locations for Tampa's New Year's Eve fireworks, plus a Mario Lopez appearance


    New Year's Eve fireworks in downtown Tampa will be a little different this year, as free, public viewing moves from Channelside Bay Plaza to Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park behind Amalie Arena due to ongoing construction.

  5. Bar review: Spanish flair at Bulla Gastrobar in South Tampa

    Bars & Spirits

    Take a second and try to think of a few of the world's biggest drinking cultures. Ireland is a freebie, but then you'll probably move onto Germany, Russia and possibly even South Korea (yep, South Korea goes hard).