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. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Dec. 11-17


    Katy Perry: The Teenage Dream songstress roars into Tampa's Amalie Arena on Friday ($45.75-$195.75).

  2. Sting rocks the house with old and new hits in Florida Orchestra gala


    ST. PETERSBURG — In some ways, the Florida Orchestra's gala with Sting looked like other concerts of a mega-star. Most of the fans who packed the Mahaffey Theater bought their tickets the day they went on sale. They cheered and sang along at the opening strains of the singer-songwriter's instantly recognizable …

  3. Chabad Jewish Center plans Hanukkah festivities for Winthrop


    RIVERVIEW — Chabad of Brandon and South Shore presents a family Hanukkah Festival at 6 p.m. on Tuesday (Dec 12) at the Winthrop Town Center, 11109 Winthrop Market St.

  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Dec. 10


    Gin Blossoms: The Grammy nominated band fuses melodic rock, pop, folk and country elements. 7:30 p.m., Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $35-$45. (727) 791-7400.

  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Dec. 9


    Santa and Ice Skating in St. Petersburg: Santa and his sleigh will be appearing on select nights in St. Petersburg for visits with area children. After visiting Santa, stick around for "glice" skating on a simulated ice rink. 6 p.m., North Straub Park, Fifth Avenue NE and Bayshore Drive, St. Petersburg. Free; $5 …