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Updated: 03/19/2014 08:00:01AM

The art of craft beers

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SUN PHOTO BY DEBBIE FLESSNER
Big Top Brewing Company is a Sarasota-based craft beer brewer owned and run by Sarasota natives.

SUN PHOTO BY DEBBIE FLESSNER
Inside the tasting room at Big Top Brewing Company are posters depicting the names of the various beers they make.

SUN PHOTO BY DEBBIE FLESSNER
The Big Top tasting room will keep about 12 of the company's beers on tap.

SUN PHOTO BY DEBBIE FLESSNER
Mike Bisaha is the CEO and Josh Wilson is the brewmaster of Big Top Brewing Company.

By DEBBIE FLESSNER

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Though craft beers have been rapidly gaining in popularity over the past few years, their roots in brewing history go much deeper.

Craft beers, defined by the Brewers Association, are those created by brewers that are small, independent and traditional. "Small" would be considered an annual production of six million barrels or less, "independent" implies that less than 25 percent of the company is owned by someone who is not a beverage alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer, and "traditional" means that the brewer derives its flavors from traditional brewing ingredients and their fermentation.

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