Circus owner aims to revitalize Ludlow with new 'Bircus' Brewing Company

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LUDLOW, Ky. -- Have you ever wanted to run away and join the circus?
Well what about brewing beer for the circus?

The owner of Ludlow’s Circus Mojo is looking for someone to do just
that. He plans on turning his theater into a “bircus” and open a
brewery called the Bircus Brewing Co.

Paul Miller got his start in circus life in 1996. He bought the old
Ludlow Theater at 322 Elm St. in 2009 to perform and teach out of.
Miller said he has operated Circus Mojo for five years now.

A large portion of the circus’ work is spent on charitable
performances. Miller said their largest client is the Cincinnati
Children’s Hospital. Circus Mojo also performs for the Red Cross and
other charities to help those in need.

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Currently, the circus is a youth and adult circus arts program.
Students and performers can learn a plethora of circus skills such as
juggling, balancing, stilt walking and much more.

However, Miller has plans to change all of that and it’s all because
of a trip to Europe. That change means Northern Kentucky will see
another brewery spring up.

Miller said the idea came to him when he made a new friend while
traveling in Europe who operates a “bircus” in Ghent, Belgium. He said
the performers earn money to operate the circus by selling their beer.

The owner of Circus Mojo aims to turn the old Ludlow Theater on Elm
Street into a brewery. (Photo courtesy of Paul Miller/Bircus Brewing
After talking with his new friends at Circusplaneet, Miller gained
permission to license the concept and beer back home in Kentucky.
Miller tried to work with local brewers to contract out the
beer-making process but said both parties found it just wouldn’t work

Miller said his brewery will use the same recipes as the brewery in
Belgium and will focus on styles that “appeal to a wide variety of

“It will be a destination. People want a destination and who wouldn’t
like to drink craft beer while watching a circus,” Miller said.

Since that fateful meeting in Belgium, Miller started working with
local preservation groups and Ludlow officials to get the theater on
the National Historic Registry as part of the renovation efforts. He
also worked with the city to get zoning ordinances changed to allow
for a brewery.

Miller said the process was made easier due in part to the work of
Second Sight Spirits. Miller met the owners through his work in the
circus as they are former prop builders for Cirque du Soleil.

He said Second Sight plans on being a microdistillery in the
community. The two companies were able to work together to lobby
Ludlow officials to create an ordinance allowing microbreweries and

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In addition to that, Miller worked with the city to apply for tourism
development loans to redevelop a church close to his theater. He said
the church will be redeveloped and that the circus operations and
education efforts will be based there.

The circus owner was able to secure a $250,000 loan from the state. He
said he is working on more private investment ahead of making his
equipment purchase.

Miller said he has all the licensing and insurance ready to turn the
theater to a brewery and event space. Right now he’s just looking for
a head brewer and to shore up financing. He plans on holding
interviews and auditions for the position on Jan. 31, 2015.

“It’ll be wild. You will be essentially joining the circus,” Miller

The brewery will focus on draft sales first but plans for mobile
canning are not ruled out. Miller said he will bring the circus to
bars that put his beer on tap, as well.

Miller said 10 percent of his profits will be donated to the Social
Circus Fund. The fund goes toward underwriting programs for children
in Ludlow, nursing homes and hospitals.

He hopes to have the brewery open and running by the 2015 MLB All-Star

You can follow Bircus Brewing online and on Facebook and Twitter.

For the latest Cincinnati beer news and entertainment, go to or follow Jesse on Twitter at @wcpojesse.

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