Somewhere between the intersection of Lowenbrau and Heilenman’s and just a stone’s throw from a vintage longneck bottle of Heurich resides one of Olympia’s true treasures, the exotically-monikered Headless Mumby Brewing located – in reality – at 232 Division Street NW.

Headless Mumby owner Alex Maffeo greets customers during Oktoberfest with his usual cheeky smile.
Headless Mumby owner Alex Maffeo greets customers during Oktoberfest with his usual cheeky smile. Photo courtesy: Headless Mumby

Opening its doors back in 2018, Headless Mumby quickly became to many Olympians a brewery unlike any other. Serving up an exclusive menu dedicated to craft lager beer, founders Alex Maffeo and Keith Ciani quietly set up a patron-friendly taproom that, at first blush, looked to be out of an old Red White & Blue lager commercial. In other words, it was instantly the very fabric from which dreams are made of, a community watering hole that took distinct pride in serving up drinks that ran the gamut from German-influenced to Cascadia-inspired. And though Ciani is now sitting out this next phase in the life of the seven-barrel brewery, co-partner and friend Maffeo is still very much a guiding force in the only independent brewery in Washington State to specialize in the art of an oft-times unrecognized beer.

Lagers in Olympia

Maffeo, who in a past life plied his trade in construction, is a veritable Euripides of lager and he’s quick to point out the appeal and why it’s become such an abiding passion.

“It’s because of the challenge,” Maffeo ruminates. “They’re a lot harder to make. The difference between a lager and an ale is basically the yeast that you use. An ale yeast ferments at a higher temperature and gives a lot more yeast character to the finished beer. The lager yeast ferments at more of a colder temperature and you don’t get a lot of those yeastier flavors. It’s more of like a naked beer in that you can taste any kind of flaws. But it also lets all of the ingredients really shine through, too.”

That shine of special ingredients has translated into a thriving and still-growing business that has taken the local community along for an open-arms ride. Simply put, an afternoon or evening out at Headless Mumby is akin to putting a peppermint patty on your heart. The forging of friendships and deep ties within the community was enough to endure the trials and tribulations of COVID and there’s yet another reason for that steadfastness according to Headless Mumby taproom manager Kaylee Zimmerman: This unicorn of a brewery is actually fun.

Family-Friendly Brewery in Olympia

Headless Mumby owner Alex Maffeo and his daughter standing in the distillery
Kieth Ciani and his daughter Nola survey Headless Mumby Brewing. Photo courtesy: Headless Mumby

“Everyone that comes in is laid back,” Zimmerman explains. “We are family friendly and parents are happy that they have a spot where they can relax and also have their kids with them. As soon as you come in through that door, you realize just how relaxed the whole place is. There’s not a whole lot of hustle and bustle and you can chill if you want to.”

“Irreverent” is a word Maffeo brings up regarding the secret alchemy that has endeared the young brewery to its neighborhood and beyond. “It’s just a real cozy and welcoming environment, very irreverent,” he says. “We built the place we would want to come and hang out in. That’s why we have these ugly chairs to hang out in.”

Keeping things light as well as engaging to its patrons both old and new has become a Headless Mumby specialty. To that end, the union-friendly brewery offers up a once-a week open dialogue with customers called Drafty Dialogue. Essentially a community forum where anyone who has a hankering to chew over the subject matter of the day can do so in a friendly manner, Drafty Dialogue has quickly become one of the most popular aspects of the brewery. “It’s an open conversation,” says Maffeo. “There’s no judgment. It kind of suits our vibe here.”

Also on the Headless Mumby dance card is a weekly Thursday Trivia Night where trivia connoisseurs can flex their gaming skills, with one trivia night a month hosted by Packmule, which brings in little-known beers from Western Washington and Oregon for customers to purchase and take home with them.

The Headless Mumby sign hints at the irreverent fun awaiting you at the family-friendly brewery in Olympia. Photo courtesy: Headless Mumby

Maffeo is quick to point out, too, that Friday night Cask Night is not to be missed at Headless Mumby, an event that is part Dr. Frankenstein, part good old fashioned Yankee ingenuity and complete and total fun.

“Every Friday at 4 o’clock we tap the cask and we’ll take any one of our beers and add something fun to it, an ingredient or whatever. Just this last month we did our German Pils with grapefruit juice. The week after that was our IPL lager with Starburst in it. It’s a sealed vessel, so once we seal it we have no idea what it’s going to taste like,” Maffeo notes, underlining that a recent experiment that incorporated Shiitake mushrooms was one of their more controversial offerings: “It was awful,” he laughingly admits.

Also on the dockets for brewery fans are a Sunday Family Game Day, a monthly Vinyl Saturday and an American Sign Language Night, which is held on every third Tuesday of any given month. Just getting started, too, is an open-mic comedy night and an upcoming partnership with the Timberland Regional Library called Books & Brews.

Summing up Headless Mumby Brewing and its philosophy for continuing success, Alex Maffeo smiles and notes the secret behind his unique passion: “Lagers are for lovers.” We’ll drink to that! Stop by for a pint or visit the Headless Mumby website.

Headless Mumby Brewing
232 Division Street NW, Olympia


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