Philly Beer

Opera meets craft beer in a new brew from Flying Fish

You’ve heard of IPA? Here comes OPA.


Ever had an OPA? No, we’re not talking about smashing plates at a Greek wedding. OPA is a cool new beer from Flying Fish.

The letters stand for Opera Philadelphia Ale, a limited edition release created in collaboration with Opera Philadelphia for its forthcoming O17 festival — the 12-day event that will flood the city with so many performances in so so many different styles that people of any age will be able to find some kind of opera they enjoy.

The festival doesn’t happen until September 14-25, but OPA is out now. It’s currently only served at the Kimmel Center’s Balcony Bar pop-up, but come August, availability will extend to all the venues where opera will be performed this fall: The Academy of Music, the Art Museum, the Barnes and the Wilma.

How’d this all come about? Flying Fish founder Gene Muller isn’t really an opera guy, but he was very excited to participate in the project.

First, he’s pretty sure it’s “the universe’s first opera-themed beer.” (If it’s not, he doesn’t want to know, so direct all your operatic “actually, so-and-so did one last year” to us directly.) Second, he loves supporting the arts in Philly, and though his brewery has done several collabs with various nonprofits over the years, this was the first with a professional arts organization.

“As soon as they said I could wear the Viking hat with the big horns, I was in,” Muller joked.

That’s not quite how Opera Philadelphia communications VP Frank Luzi tells it.

As one of the people behind the music company’s recent outreach to millennials, which succeeded in making it so the audience is nearly half under the age of 35, Luzi is tapped into what might make younger folks excited. And a custom brew, he thought, was definitely one of them.

“We need a festival beer!” Luzi remembered saying early on during planning for the fest. Flying Fish is one of his favorite local breweries, so he was looking for a way to get them involved from the start. Happily for him, the opera’s branding agency, Karma, was also working with Flying Fish on a separate project. The connection was made, and discussion on what kind of beer to make began.

Since this is a first-time collaboration, it’s still relatively experimental, Muller explained, so the beer in the bottle is actually just Flying Fish Extra Pale Ale with a cool new label.

“We didn’t want to do a whole new brew because we’re not sure how it will sell,” Muller said. “But this is a great beer [for O17]. It goes well with food, it’s accessible, and it’s perfect for warm weather.”

The opera is also looking for interested bars who might want to carry OPA during the actual 12-day fest (contact Muller Beverage for more info), and is in talks with FringeArts about having it served at that org’s beer garden outside La Peg on Columbus Boulevard.

Karma Agency came up with the label design, which features rainbow colors, a faded wall of words and a giant O, and Flying Fish absorbed the cost of getting it licensed, printed and packaged. Only a couple hundred cases were created — so if you score a bottle, you might want to hold onto the empty as a keepsake — but that could change in the future.

If this works, Muller said, he’ll look into doing something even more exciting for next year’s Opera Philadelphia festival, like a custom brew, or a much bigger run.

And he’s looking forward to attending O17.

“I’m planning on going!” he said. “It’ll be something new, anyway.”

Want some more? Explore other Philly Beer stories.

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