Local Arts

What happens when you mix opera and beer? Ask Opera Carolina and this local brewery

When Opera Carolina’s season opens on Nov. 10 with “The Daughter of the Regiment,” guests will be treated to a new beverage option at the Belk Theater called “Carmen Get It!”

It’s a spicy cinnamon beer, a twist on Bold Missy Brewery’s English Brown Ale and a collaborative project with Opera Carolina.

Opera Carolina’s Megan Miller, director of marketing, approached Bold Missy about creating a beer that would represent the 2018-19 season. Bold Missy is owned and operated by women, Miller said, and the opera’s theme for its shows this year is “The She Season,” featuring strong, empowered women.

Last season, Opera Carolina partnered with D9 Brewing Company to produce the craft beer, “Hopera: Dramatically Hoppy.” Miller wanted to integrate opera into what Charlotte already loves -- breweries.

While sitting in D9, Miller noticed how the initiative was creating a community, as well as providing education about opera. “Without realizing it, they’re talking about opera,” Miller said. “The bartenders are talking about opera. They’re asking about how they came up with the name. Most of the time, people didn’t realize we had an opera company here.”

Carli Smith is the brewmaster at Bold Missy in NoDa. The brewery celebrated its one-year anniversary in May, and features craft beer with names that are inspired by famous women such as its American IPA, ‘Rocket Ride,’ named for Sally Ride, the first American woman in space.

Smith’s appreciation for opera started when she was a child in San Diego. As part of a school program, she was able to see the opera company’s dress rehearsals. She’s excited to see how this partnership with Opera Carolina will spark interest in opera-goers and brewery customers.

Smith, Miller and other colleagues chose to do a spin on one of Bold Missy’s darker beers because they are more popular during the colder months.

Once they had the name for the beer, it was easy for Smith to see how she’d develop the flavor. She researched the history of the candy, Red Hots, and found out that the intense flavor is from large amounts of cinnamon. “We’re taking one of our core beers which is English Brown Ale, and I’m taking that and infusing it with cinnamon sticks,” Smith said. “This is going to be like red hot cinnamon.”

Smith infused cloth bags of cinnamon into a small amount of beer. The cinnamon was broken up to increase the amount of surface area interaction. Then Smith added this concentrated mixture to a keg of English Brown Ale.

Miller’s mother suggested the name, “Carmen Get It!” It fits Carmen’s bold and spicy character.

Carmen Get It! is available on tap at Bold Missy and at the three opera performances at Belk Theater during the opera season.

This story is part of an Observer underwriting project with the Thrive Campaign for the Arts, supporting arts journalism in Charlotte.

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