If you go down to the woods today, you’ll find the beer of the future. Brasserie Mira is an innovative brewery and gastropub like no other – rising from the wild dunes and pine forests of Arcachon Bay in south-west France, they produce award winning beers using the region’s ancient spring water.
TEXT: KATE HARVEY | PHOTOS © BRASSERIE MIRA
There is little better way to describe the Mira brewery, other than utterly weird and wonderful. Founders Jacques Bellec and Aurélien Rey trace their origins back to their travels through the wilderness of Northern Canada; it was here that they were inspired by herds of caribous, alongside the ethereal atmosphere of the Landes forest back home. “After travelling, we were reminded of the fantastic local resources available to us in our region. That is when we decided to open our own microbrewery,” recounts Rey.
Ancient Aquitaine alchemy
The rare quality of the spring water in this corner of the world has existed for an incredible 22,500 years, and contains no pesticides, nitrate or chlorine. Perfectly mineralised, it’s no wonder that the founders returned to Arcachon’s turquoise bay to brew craft ale. You might notice the graphic creatures etched on to each of the bottles: “Our symbol is the two-headed chimera, because the water that we use is almost as old as this mythological creature itself,” Rey reveals. “The name ‘Mira’, in fact, comes from the Latin word mirabilia, which means ‘a marvel’.” And it certainly is.
Making waves across the Atlantic
Their collection currently spans a range of blonde, pale, brown and amber ales along with a handful of organically produced brews. Rumour has spread as far as the United States regarding the quality of craft ale produced in the basin of south-west France. And for the eighth edition of the Miami Challenge in Florida, Mira came home with three gold and two silver medals – they’re certainly taking the world by storm.
It doesn’t stop there, either – they’ve won gold and silver medals for their No.1 bottle at the acclaimed World Beer Awards, silver for their gluten free organic beer and No.2 Pale Ale – and are Country Winners for a whole host more. Rey explains, “We were selected out of 4,000 beers from the USA, Asia and Europe in a blind testing competition.”
A bit of ‘gin ne sais quoi’
Mira has recently turned its hand to distilling its very own London Gin – a beverage that pairs exceptionally with its very own Mira tonic. Produced with expertly selected botanicals such as juniper berries, coriander, kaffir lime, kampot pepper and pine needles, this gin is a testament to their ambition. “We collaborated with a talented illustrator, Steven Salvat, to illustrate the myth behind the gin’s conception. You can see this on the bottom of the bottle – the little details are particularly important,” says Rey. The Mira Gin also won its first Gold Medal at the Miami Challenge this year.
Serving up something savage
Visitors are also invited to step into the Pub Mira, a gastropub concept that was launched in 2017 in the coastal town of La-Teste-de-Buch. “We collaborate with local bakers to produce fresh bread, and we also have a garden for growing vegetables sustainably and seasonally. All of this is then freshly served in our restaurant,” Rey says. “Our bar now also has a happy hour, from 6pm to 8pm every day.”
A cave of musical pleasures
Wielding a team of musicians, plant scientists and malt brewers, they are passionate about the chemistry of brewing fantastic ale. But they haven’t lost sight of their other passions: “We’re both musicians, and can’t deny that this is what brought us together. We decided to weave it into our brewery concept, and now we have our own music academy. We’re also selling custom Mira musical instruments in our shop,” reveals Rey.
The Mira brewery is quickly becoming a musical hub of sorts – hosting open-mic nights to attract local talent. ‘We have a concert hall hosting two to three gigs a week throughout the year, and four recording studios for artists to use. We’ve created a convivial cultural space in Arcachon Bay, and we’re excited for what the future has in store.” he explains.
For art’s sake
It’s no surprise that Mira is also creating a vibrant artistic space within its four walls. Mira’Art is the brewery’s very own artist collective that is set to host a series of workshops and exhibitions at the pub. Mira’s whimsical brand image is only set to expand, in both France and beyond.