After years of planning and considerable effort, Marion’s meadery is finally ready to start serving up the tasty honey wine that has been enjoyed for centuries.
Located at 175 W. Henderson St., Keeper’s Cut Meadery is open and will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday with the McDowell Chamber of Commerce. This Memorial Day weekend, downtown Marion’s newest business will feature live music and tastings of their assortment of honey wines. Keeper’s Cut seeks to put Marion again on the craft beverage map and in an even bolder way.
A meadery, similar to a winery, serves honey wines or mead, which is an alcoholic beverage made from fermenting honey with water. The honey is fermented sometimes with various fruits, spices, grains or hops. Mead is probably the oldest alcoholic beverage in history. It was popular among the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.
While western North Carolina is known throughout the world for its craft beer and numerous breweries, meaderies are much less common in the region. In fact, a search on the Internet found only a handful of other meaderies in western North Carolina.
But what owners Charles Myers and Kathryn Curran have accomplished with Keeper’s Cut Meadery is unlike anything else in McDowell County or even western North Carolina. It is also a safe bet that no other meadery around looks as appealing or spacious.
Keeper’s Cut Meadery makes all of its honey wines at its 175 W. Henderson St. location. You can sample the different varieties of mead and take them home in their beautifully labeled bottles.
Myers keeps bees at his home and uses the honey produced there, along with others, for the making of his mead at Keeper’s Cut.
“What we are offering now is the traditional style which is honey added to water and yeast,” he said.
What is being offered now is melomel, a form of mead brewed with fruit. Keeper’s Cut has melomels made with strawberries, wild blackberries, blueberries and cherries. “All of our fruit was handpicked by us,” said Curran.
During the fall, they will have a dry pumpkin spice. This is a metheglin (a mead brewed with spices). There will also be carbonated mead, which tastes more like beer.
“We’ll be constantly changing it out,” said Myers.
Curran assists Myers in making the mead and running the meadery. It is very much a family-owned operation because Myers’ son Kurt is another owner of the business. He is a chief warrant officer in the U.S. Navy. In addition, Myers’ daughter Amie is the events coordinator/manager of Keeper’s Cut.
Kurt Myers’ 3-year-old daughter has leukemia and Keeper’s Cut plans to host an event that raises awareness of finding donors for bone marrow transplants, according to Charles Myers.
The McDowell News first reported about the plans for this new business in 2016. Myers had spoken with The McDowell News years before about his passion of making downtown Marion a more exciting and interesting place, especially on the weekends. He wanted to see Marion’s central business district more vibrant like those in other nearby cities like Black Mountain or Morganton.
“We were willing to take that risk because we are residents of Marion and we want to contribute to the growth of the downtown and the city in general,” said Myers in 2016.
At one point, Myers and Curran thought their business would end up going to Morganton. Instead, they found a suitable place here with the former Employment Staffing building and the old Laughridge Furniture warehouse on Depot Street. The buildings are close to the Marion Depot and the Tailgate Market and across the street from the Municipal Event Center.
In 2017, Keeper’s Cut Meadery was one of the 35 businesses that received a $6,000 grant from WNC Agricultural Options. The $6,000 grant was used to purchase equipment.
“Our hope is that we will have a hand in helping breathe life back into downtown Marion,” said Myers in 2017. “We are confident that Keeper’s Cut Meadery will be just what we hope for downtown Marion, McDowell County and western North Carolina residents and a great stop for tourists.”
Although western North Carolina is world renowned for its craft beer, mead is quickly becoming more popular. Myers said a new meadery opens for business every three days in the United States.
During the past two and a half years, they have put their money and energy into creating something new. They have expended a considerable amount of time and resources into transforming those old buildings into a place sure to attract tourists. From the hardwood floors to the beautiful ceiling, the interior of Keeper’s Cut Meadery looks like nothing else in this area.
“It’s been a blood, sweat and tears project,” said Myers recently. “Our focus is to draw people into Marion. We turned our hobby into a passion.”
Myers said he and Curran did everything inside their building themselves with the exception of the electrical work, heating and air conditioning and plumbing. Turtle Laboratories provided the metal work for the sliding barn doors inside the building and one of their large signs. The outside deck along West Henderson Street seats about 25 people.
“Our goal is to offer a place where people can come and share a bottle or a glass of our mead in a friendly, welcoming and upscale atmosphere,” said Myers to The McDowell News.
“We hope we will attract tourism to the town,” said Curran to The McDowell News. “We hope it will have a beneficial impact across the town. It’s a passion. We’re the only meadery in western North Carolina that offers a large tasting room.”
Keeper’s Cut Meadery is open Wednesday through Saturday from noon to dusk and on Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. It will be open late on Sunday for the Memorial Day weekend and will be open on Memorial Day itself from noon to 6 p.m.
Even before it opens, Keeper’s Cut Meadery has garnered rave reviews from excited patrons.
“Amazing people with a unique idea and exactly what McDowell County needs!” wrote Myloni Price.
“Love the wild blackberry wine, so delicious! Wonderful local wine made by great people,” wrote Abigail Winchester.
“You won’t believe this new renovated facility!” wrote John Wyatt.
Keeper’s Cut Meadery will also be an event space. There is a dog-friendly patio and there are plans for regular live music and food trucks to visit.
The 4,000-square-foot building is available for weddings, receptions, parties and meetings. In addition, you can take a “bee to bottle” tour and see how mead is made. Along with the selection of beverages, Keeper’s Cut will offer fine chocolates, charcuterie and snacks.
The meadery will host its first musical act at 6:30 p.m. Saturday with Todd Greene and Dave Reep performing. At 6 p.m. Sunday, Asheville’s Freewheelin’ Mamas will take the stage.
Keeper’s Cut Meadery will be the first in a series of similar businesses for what is already being called Marion’s Depot District. The Feisty Goldfish will be located opposite Keeper’s Cut on Depot Street. It will be a bar serving craft beer and other beverages combined with a retro arcade featuring all kinds of games for young and old.
Just further up West Henderson, Taylor Bros. Brewing, Marion’s second craft brewery, will be housed in the former Laughridge Furniture building. Brothers Steve and David Taylor are now making extensive renovations to their building like Myers and Curran did with their meadery.
For more information, visit the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/keeperscut/?epa=SEARCH_BOX