It’s not every day BK goes along with my spontaneous ideas — and lord knows they happen often. “I’d really like to try that restaurant all the way out ‘iiiiiiiin Milford,'” or “Let’s drive out to Eastgate for Red Sesame and Jungle Jim’s,” or “How about we walk from work to Wooden Cask for happy hour and dinner?” Most of the time it’s, “Let’s go to to that new brewery” because these ideas usually stem from drinking beer, and it’s always fun when he agrees to making impromptu weekday plans.
Enter BIRCUS Brewery, the part-beer-part-circus, Ludlow-based brewery that has been brewing beer for the better part of the past year. BIRCUS was founded by Paul Miller, “Chief Goof-Officer,” former Ringling Bros. clown, and Circus Mojo creator, as a way to sort of marry entertainment, education, and development to good beer.
Before opening their “tasting room” in Ludlow, Kentucky, BIRCUS could be found at festivals and events in Northern Kentucky. Now, while the Ludlow Theatre is being made over to be their permanent space, BIRCUS calls the neighboring tasting room home, where there were nearly a dozen beers available.
We parked across the street and walked into the red-and-white-striped building (see what they did there?), where we were greeted by a half dozen tables and a really friendly and knowledgeable bartender, Ryan, who also brews, designs (print and web), spins tunes on the record player, and ensures we all have snacks readily on deck. (Think free popcorn and pretzels currently.) Ryan was excellent. He gave recommendations, information behind the beers and styles, and told us the history of BIRCUS, the nation’s only brewery funded entirely by stockholders — essentially the Green Bay Packers of the brewery scene. He also introduced us to the head brewer, who is a Cincinnati transplant hailing all the way from The Windy City. It was in Chicago where he was groomed by the family brewery that specializes in German lagers. (Willkommen in Zinzinnati!)
Whenever I visit a new brewery, it’s important to try as many beers as possible.* (How else do I get a feel for the quality of beer?) Flights at BIRCUS were made up of four, so that’s what we went with. In fact, we ended up having two flights, because one just wasn’t enough. My favorites from the eight beers I got to try were The Breaded Lady (kölsch), Comic Walrus (golden ale with ginger and cranberry), and Diving Elk (Belgian dubbel). (See below for full beer list.) BIRCUS had a pretty good selection as far as styles were concerned, but seemed to feature more Belgians than anything else with three on tap.
After we finished our flights, snacks, and conversation with Ryan, we were told to head next door to the main event, where Sean, the head brewer was cleaning up and could give a brief overview of the space and beer.
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but it was absolutely “half beer, half circus” as I heard another patron describe it. Walking in, there was circus equipment throughout the building with brewing tanks in the back — an event space that will feature circus acts, trapeze artists, aerial silks, and even musical performances.
BIRCUS was really great with an interesting history and and even better concept. It is sure to be a very fun brewery and I’m really excited to see the circus come to life hopefully by spring.
For more about BIRCUS, the history of Circus Mojo and Ludlow Theatre, and how to invest in the brewery, read more on their website.
326 Elm Street
Ludlow, Kentucky 41016
Wednesday, 4–9pm (One For All Wednesdays = $1 off pints/flights + $1 to a cause)
Private lot and street
Featured image: tap handles in the tasting room
View this list for Tour de Cincinnati’s guide to all things local breweries.
Complete Beer List
Miss Patterson (Belgian blonde)
Showman (dry-hopped IPA)
Comic Walrus (golden ale with cranberry and ginger)
IronFest Ale (golden ale)
Alta Via Altbier (traditional German altbier)
The Breaded Lady (kölsch using Blue Oven Bakery’s bread)
Kilpatrick’s One Legged (dry Irish stout)
Diving Elk (Belgian dubbel)
*It’s important to be mindful of how busy a brewery is before ordering flights. Most breweries do not offer tasting boards during their grand opening and in the weeks that follow, but for those that do, please be considerate. If it’s packed, maybe go a different route.