I read this in Monday’s Westfield evening news, in the yearly focus section. It had to do with Opa Opa brewing in Southampton mass. Now I know some people including me at one time, didn’t think much of this brewery. That has all changed for me in about the last year. With 20 to 30 different brews it’s hard not to find a few you will like. For all those skeptical souls, they just have to give it another chance! Back to the story I was reading! It was saying that they won a gold award for their blueberry lager. Something didn’t make sense to me? For a guy like me that loves blueberries and beer, the best one I’ve had to date is Bar Harbor blueberry ale. But that’s ale and this is a lager, which makes it unique in Massachusetts. I know I read this from the beer nut back when? All I can say is this guy will be trying it this weekend and I will let you know how it is. Read articles below will also include one from last year!
By CHRIS PUTZ
SOUTHAMPTON — Southampton resident Themis Rizos can easily recall a time when he and his brother, Tony, lived in a poverty-stricken area of Greece where hot water and bathrooms were sparse. He remembers the hardship the brothers endured when they came to America more than two decades ago.
“We came to Springfield 25 years ago with $32 dollars in our pockets,” Rizos said, sitting in the confines of his Opa Opa Steakhouse & Brewery on College Highway (Route 10) in Southampton. “We were sleeping on the streets, working hard every day — seven days a week, 16 hours a day.”
The two brothers worked around the clock at a local pizza shop in the city for nearly five years until they saved enough money to open their own, Pizza King, in West Springfield in 1989. A couple of years later, the Rizos added to their portfolio when they opened another shop in Southampton, Red Rock Pizza. They have expanded that business five times over the last 20 years.
Six years ago, the brothers opened one of the most renowned breweries in the area, a 6,000-square-foot mecca — Opa Opa.
“From the first day, it’s been successful,” Rizos said of the steakhouse and brewery. “We’ve had lines of people. Everyone loves our beer.”
The beer became such a hit with the locals that they began packaging and distributing it just two years later. They expanded the business to include Brewmaster’s Tavern, in Williamsburg, where the majority of the beer is now brewed for distribution. Most of the beer brewed at Opa Opa is sold there for immediate consumption — and satisfaction.
According to Rizos, Opa Opa is now selling close to 100,000 cases of its own locally-brewed beer annually.
“People are drinking it faster than we can make it,” Rizos said. “The beer is doing very, very good. It’s a good beer. It’s unique.”
Opa Opa makes 24 different brews, ranging from fun light beers such as a watermelon flavored one to a Double IPA (more malt/more sugar/14 percent alcohol) and one of the state’s only light lager beers brewed according to German purity law — made only with the four basic ingredients: malt, hops, water and yeast.
“If you add something else in Germany, it’s not beer,” Rizos said.
Today, Rizos serves as quality control.
“My brother says I get paid to drink — it’s a good business,” Rizos said. “It’s a dream come true. … My brother grew up watching John Wayne movies, wanting to come to America. The reality has come true. Even with a tough economy, we meet our goals to be successful. We always work hard and always aim high.
“We have had the opportunity to work and make big things happen.”
Published Friday, February 26, 2010