Merlin and Mimi come from entrepreneurship and marketing backgrounds. Both also have creative passion for brewing, cooking and baking, so it was inevitable that the passions and expertise would eventually become their next venture together.
After only two years brewing under his belt Merlin knew he wanted to start a brewery. It took three more years of planning, testing, saving, and drinking before it came to fruition. Along the way Merlin became a Certified Cicerone and Recognized BJCP Judge to build a deeper understanding of classic styles and food pairings. Mimi also trained her palate to identify winning recipes from the flops, and now plays a crucial role in quality control and is the curator of the Wartega Barrel Aged Coffee.
Nearly a year from signing the lease and building out the space, Wartega became a reality.
The Wartega Name
If you don't know both Merlin and Mimi, the Wartega name seems to come from left field. Months were spent toiling over names for the brewery. Every theme was considered from their favorite movies, places they've visited, and even concepts from Merlin's German heritage. One thing was known; the brewery was going to have a heritage of its own. The beers are something unique and an experience was designed that was inspired by both their families' histories. So, everything that drew from somewhere else in the world didn't quite fit.
Then one day, while sitting on the couch–watching Family Feud of all things–it came to them. Smash their last names together! Ward + Ortega = Wartega. And so it was to be. A name that stood strong to represent both their families and something new that was started together.
Family is extremely important to both Merlin and Mimi. It's the community of people that believe in you and support you throughout your life. That's why they've created the Wartega Family Membership. It's for the beer lovers who believe in Wartega's brewing philosophy and will stand by the brewery through thick and thin. Being part of the family comes with all the reward and camaraderie you would expect. The Family is first to know about beers on tap, first to be invited to events, first to taste new creations, and the first to have a voice in what Wartega brews for them. Wartega puts customers first just like we were family.
Wartega holds its beers to two key rules: The beer must be balanced, and the beer must be interesting. Thus, beers are brewed with fruit, spices and herbs, while still respecting beer making fundamentals–balance and drinkability.
Merlin and Mimi both have a great passion for cooking and travel. The dinner table always has a mix of traditional German and Dominican foods at home. Take out is usually Indian or Asian foods; dishes that are rich with spices. Food is where many of the Wartega beers get their inspiration.
Being a radical German, Merlin had trouble sticking to the Reinheitsgebot in his brewing. While he loved and appreciated traditional styles, he constantly explored unique adjuncts, pulling for ancient beer recipes and different cultures from around the world.
Combining the culinary, historical and cultural ingredients became the basis for Wartega beers.