Seattle’s newest brewery, Mirage Beer Company, is making its debut this Friday, December 1, at Chuck’s Hop Shop in Greenwood. The farmhouse-focused brewery is concentrating on styles like sours and fruited beer, some of which are spontaneously fermented. But the brewery doesn’t yet have a taproom and won’t for the foreseeable future, as owner Michael Dempster is choosing instead to focus on the beer-making process first.
Dempster, who has brewed at Greenpoint Beer Works in Brooklyn and Buoy Beer Co. in Astoria, says he’s chosen not to take on any investors. And that means he’s growing slowly: “I'll open a taproom when Mirage generates the capital to build it. For now it's just the production facility in South Park, and the cooperage at a farmhouse out in Vaughn.”
It’s a model adopted by other breweries in the past: Holy Mountain released a beer before the taproom was ready, and Jellyfish has started distribution while its taproom is still under construction. But those each had taprooms actively in the works; Mirage’s is, for now, a distant plan.
Dempster’s beers will range from fruited to funky to sour, and some will be fermented spontaneously, or using cultures he’s cultivated throughout the Northwest. He says each beer will be completely unique, with no repetition, and his output will appear in a mix of cans and 750ml bottles as well as on draft. There will also be a bottle club for super-fans, similar to what another new brewery-sans-taproom, Floodland Brewing, is offering. While non-members will be able to stop by on release days to pick up any leftovers, priority will be given to members.
Mirage’s four initial beers include Drie Valleien, a saison aged in pinot noir barrels from the Willamette Valley with wild cultures; fìor, an oak-aged brett saison; 1st Day Out, a Czech-style pilsner; and Palo Duro, a Northeast-style pale ale.
Ultimately, Dempster wants the freedom to brew as he pleases, with no investors or partners looking over his shoulder.
“Every brewery says they put the beer first, but Mirage doesn't have the priorities that commonly come before that ‘first,’ like making loan payments, meeting delivery expectations, observing a budget, distributing profits, or meeting sales goals,” he says. “Mirage beer is only released when it's at its best, and no time, consideration, or expense is spared in its creation or presentation.”