Birmingham craft brewery to host new opera

The medieval tradition of beer brewing by women will be explored at Birmingham’s Dig Brew brewery and taproom this Friday in a new opera.

The craft brewery on River Street in Digbeth is supporting local artistes on International Women’s Day by hosting the premiere of Infinite Opera’s production of Besse.

The opera has been created by two Royal Birmingham Conservatoire graduates, Daniel Blanco Albert, who composed the music, and Roxanne Korda, who wrote the text. The two of them co-founded Infinite Opera, a professional troupe resident at Grand Union, Digbeth’s internationally renowned gallery.

The trilogy centres on the experience of brewster (medieval for ‘brewer’) Besse whose independence and love of beer making in the 14th century, when brewing beer was still a woman’s occupation, are about to be threatened by men who see brewing as an all-male business opportunity and use accusations of witchcraft supported by the church to try to end brewing by women.

Infinite Opera will perform the Besse trilogy on Dig Brew’s live music stage, and the brewery will provide added support by offering a limited-edition beer as part of the £10 ticket price.

For Part 1 of the trilogy, entitled Water, which starts on Friday, March 8 at 8pm, guests will receive a specially brewed can of Hathor’s Revenge, a sour red fruit Berliner Weisse that will also be used as a prop in the show and be available for sale at the bar – at 40ft long the second longest bar in Birmingham.

Dig Brew will also brew two other limited-edition special beers, Maleficarum and Dark Abbess, for Part 2 (Rye) and Part 3 (Hops) of Besse on Friday, April 12 and Friday, May 10 respectively.

Roxanne Korda of Infinite Opera said: “We are delighted to be able to team up with Dig Brew in staging our thrilling new opera which charts one woman’s struggle against a difficult and dangerous medieval world to practise the art of fermentation to its greatest heights.”

Oliver Webb, a graduate of the Slade School of Fine Art who founded Dig Brew with the support of Peter Towler of Mad O’Rourke’s Pie Factory in Tipton last year, said: “As a business, we are looking to establish ourselves at the heart of the craft beer movement and to export our beers internationally.

“We are also keen to advance the heritage of beer brewing and to contribute to the growth of Digbeth as an artistic and cultural centre.”

Dig Brew brews and distributes a constantly changing range of seasonal lagers, stouts, sours and pale ales to pubs, bars and off licences nationally from its converted industrial premises. Open to the public on Fridays (from 4pm) and Saturdays (from 12pm), it also runs a pizzeria on the premises, as well as a bar, and organises a regular programme of food, drink, music and art-based events.

Tickets are available, priced at £10 (£7 for students and Under 25s) on the door, at the bar, or through social media at www.instagram.com/digbrewco.

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