The Headless Mumby Brewing crew makes their lagers on site at 232 Division Street NW in Olympia. In its West Olympia neighborhood, the Headless Mumby Brewing taproom is a cozy local place where families take their kids, bring a take-out pizza and gather for good times. Furthermore, as a lager-only, union brewery, currently with an all-female brew crew, they are indeed unique. They even have goldfish crackers and juice boxes.
Among the brewery’s special attributes, is its name. Headless Mumby is the name chosen by its founders from two different backstories. Headless comes from the song “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner” by Warren Zevon, and Mumby was the name of a railroad switch location for an old logging and shingle mill. Maffeo says it came out of a pool of 25 possible names. Before starting the company, co-founder and owner Alex Maffeo had been home brewing beer since 2009. Continuing to hone his craft, he joined the South Sound Suds Society, a local homebrew club. Maffeo and his founding partner met there and hit it off.
Deciding to form the company in 2016, they hit the road to purchase used brewing equipment. Over the next two years they pieced together the brewery. The buildout of the space was done internally, with Maffeo as the lead. “I started in the electrical trade and found myself doing HVAC work,” says Maffeo. “With help from friends we were able to do the entire project ourselves.” The interior of the taproom was their creation too, from the retro yellow chairs to the light fixtures. Since then, they have been producing some very unique lagers.
The focus of the brewery is entirely on craft lagers, the bright, cool brewed, crisp beers. Uniquely, they are one in a small number of independent breweries in the country to exclusively brew lagers, and the only one in the Pacific Northwest. “There are quite a few breweries in town, and Olympia is known for brewing,” says Stacey O’Connor, the head brewer. “We wanted to feed off of that tradition, but things that differentiate us from other places in town is that we brew only lagers. Because we only do lagers, you’re going to find a bigger selection of them here than you are going to find at any other breweries in town.” That means instead of an IPA on tap, there’s an IPL. Their India pale lager has a floral aroma, is citrusy and features different hops on a revolving basis. They make a smoked rye lager, described on the menu as having a: “moderate smoked malt presence. Hefty doses of Munich and rye malts. Subtle noble hops.”
We brew the beer we want to drink,” says Maffeo. All beer is brewed on site, from grain to glass. “We only use German malt because it’s the best,” says Maffeo. “If we are going to invest all this time into a product, we need to make it the best.” Whole leaf hops are primarily used, which requires working with a hops broker during the narrow harvest window in Oregon and Washington. Through the front windows, patrons can see the production room where the grains head to the kettle, the fermenter and on to the taproom.
Their Local 66 American lager was created for the Sheetmetal Workers Union Local 66, a connection made through Maffeo’s membership. The Local asked Headless Mumby to make them a special lager. That started the process that saw the brewery sign with the union, making them the only brewery in North America to be part of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Union.
The brewery supports its employees through the union benefits and by supporting professional development. They connect with the community through fundraisers, partnerships and collaborations in addition to drawing in the neighborhood families to their taproom. They also take part in cultivating the craft brewing industry by hosting their first intern from the South Puget Sound Community College craft brewing and distilling program.
Ever present at Headless Mumby Brewing is an openness and accessibility with their family friendly, local neighborhood atmosphere. “We’ve got a welcoming, safe taproom,” says Maffeo. “It’s family friendly. People are welcome to bring in any food they want. It works out really well with Vic’s Pizzeria across the street.” Families bring snacks or treat their kids to crackers and juice from the taproom. Toys can be checked out at the bar, and they are sanitized in the dishwasher for the next visitor. Friday night casks are also a fun event in which the taproom puts a five-gallon mini keg on the bar with special ingredients added such as vanilla bean and lemon peel in a German pilsner.
“When people hear ‘Headless Mumby,’” continues Maffeo, “I want them to think of a welcoming and inclusive place to have a great beer. Olympia Beer left Olympia, but Olympia-made lager didn’t. We’re right here and doing it well.”
It is the brewery and crew’s mission to be community oriented and to be a place to gather. Maffeo and the brewery crew plan to continue to be passionate about lagers and share with people throughout the Pacific Northwest that lagers are different and great. For more information, visit the Headless Mumby website.
Headless Mumby Brewing Company
232 Division St NW, Olympia