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Big Top Brewing's New Facility Is Massive, and It's Opening Soon

The Sarasota brewery may have opened 10 years ago, but it's just getting started. Here's a first look at its new beer garden, gastropub and production facility.

By Lauren Jackson March 27, 2024

Big Top Brewing is slated to open in mid-April.
Big Top Brewing is slated to open in mid-April.

Sarasota's Big Top Brewing is about to get a major upgrade. Its new building, located on Fruitville Road east of I-75, is a whopping 18,000 square feet that's equal parts beer garden, gastropub and beer production facility. It’s set to open in mid-April.

“We started Big Top 10 years ago,” says co-owner Mike Bisaha, who shares the business with partners Seth Mauraskas and Josh Wilson. “Seth was my neighbor and was really into craft beer. We’d sit in the driveway and watch our kids run around. One day he suggested we sell our own beer, and he wasn’t kidding. I didn’t know the first thing about making beer, but Seth knew Josh, who’d been home brewing for more than 20 years before we got started. From the time that we first sat down to talk about it to opening the first facility only took eight months.”

Now, Bisaha says, Big Top is in a strategic growth phase. “We don’t want to be big [just] to be big—we want to make great beer.”

Big Top's dining room before tables are added.
Big Top's dining room before tables are added.

But the new building is definitely big, with a seating capacity for around 700. That includes a sizable AstroTurfed beer garden, shaded by two old oak trees lovingly named Wilbur and Lewis.

“The entire project was designed around those trees,” Bisaha says. ”Because of them, we selected this spot and wanted to preserve them and build our model around them. We want people to sit under them, read a book and have a beer.

"We want an area where people can just gather and have fun with no worries about tables turning," he continues. "We have the space and capacity, and we want people to be able to just come and hang out if that’s what they’re looking for.”

Assorted appetizers at Big Top Brewing.
Assorted appetizers at Big Top Brewing.

As far as food goes, indoor dining will be full-service. The Big Top guys have teamed up with industry veterans Joe Seidensticker and Joe Guli to help manage Big Top's large-scale service endeavor, which includes designing the menu.

Meanwhile, outside guests will also be able to choose their preference for food service. Servers will be available if needed, but guests can also order from Big Top's full menu via kiosks or grab a beer or liquor drink at the outside bar, which will seat 60.

“We make beer. That’s what we know we’re good at. We’re good at getting people to gather and have fun," says Bisaha. "But food on this scale is next-level, and we don’t know how to do that. That’s where Joe and Joe come in. Without them, we would have been so far behind.”

“We’re all about elevating the experience,” Seidensticker says. “We know what the people like, and this is right in our wheelhouse.”

So, alongside Big Top’s 10 or so permanent products and seasonal beers comes a menu that reflects both the owners’ and Seidensticker and Guli's taste. Sure, it’s beer-friendly—but it also sounds better than it needs to be.

The falafel burger at Big Top.
The falafel burger at Big Top.

For example, tomato bacon jam toast is topped with whipped ricotta and candied bacon. Cubano tacos are made in the style of a Cuban sandwich, complete with mojo pork, crispy ham and pickled vegetables. And a falafel burger looks so tempting, it will likely sway even the staunchest carnivore.

Big Top will also move all of its production to the new building, with 4,000 square feet on the first floor of the production room and an additional 3,000 on the floor above—sufficient space to reach its targeted 10,000 barrels. With 31 gallons in a barrel, you do the math on the amount of beer the team can make.

Plans are in the works for brunch, too, and Bisaha and Seidensticker anticipate that the brewery could be open from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. on weekends.

“[The gastropub] will be open until bar closes. If that’s 2 a.m., then that’s 2 a.m.,” says Seidensticker.

And athough Big Top has been making beers for the last decade, Bisaha anticipates the added space will allow for even more tinkering and product development.

“We have 14 people on our brew team, and what they’re capable of doing is nothing short of a miracle—downright inspiring,” Bisaha says. “It takes a team to accomplish something like this.”

Big Top Brewing will be located at 3045 Fruitville Commons Road, Sarasota. For more information, click here.

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