With the dawning of a new year, McDowell County’s first brewery is ready to start making and serving craft beer.
Mica Town Brewing Co. is scheduled to have its grand opening on New Year’s Eve in the brick building at 25 Brown Drive, just off North Main Street behind the Crooked Door Coffee House and Sun Kissed Tanning. Owners Jason Snyder and his wife Emily Causey have worked hard throughout 2017 to transform this old two-level structure – which at one time in the late 1980s was the headquarters for MACA and then later an FM radio station – into the first craft brewery for Marion and McDowell County.
Just a few nights ago, the large metal sign for Mica Town, which was made by Turtle Laboratories, was installed on the building’s front.
“We’re super excited,” said Causey. “We love the look of the building.”
The inside of Mica Town covers a total of 2,600 square feet with 1,300 for each floor. Inside, the brewery seats 49 and there is also an outdoor deck with additional seating during warmer weather. The main level holds the actual brewery and the bar. The upper level has lots of room for people to enjoy games like cornhole and darts.
Mica Town is a four-barrel brewhouse with four eight-barrel fermenters. Snyder, who makes the beer, said a brew day lasts around four to six hours. Then, the wort will ferment in the tanks for a minimum of two weeks. After that it is done, it is carbonated for 24 to 48 hours. “Then it will be ready to be kegged for sale,” he said.
Patrons at Mica Town will be able to get a good look at the brew barrels and the fermentation tanks but the actual brewing will done outside of regular business hours, added Snyder.
Over the past few months, Snyder has been busy making an assortment of craft beer, with one containing ingredients such as cacao nibs, cherries and cinnamon sticks. He has made a beer that will be served at room temperature with a frothy head, which is very common in England.
For the grand opening on New Year’s Eve, Snyder has crafted a wide assortment of different types of beer. They include Jack Frost Winter Lager, Black Quartz Schwarz Bier, Miner’s Delight Grisette, Mount Ida IPA, Wiseman’s Belgian Dubbel, Chocolate Cherry Porter, Silver Lining Kolsch and McDowell Scotch. There is a guest beer from Burial Brewing in Asheville: the Burial Harvest Porter. Another item on the menu is cold brew coffee on nitrogen. He’s also made Ginger Beerd, which is a ginger beer and is 100 percent gluten-free.
Each of them will have information about the ABV (alcohol by volume).
Patrons will have the option of ordering different amounts. It will be available in glasses of 4, 8 or 16 ounces, with different prices for each. You can order a flight paddle of four 4-ounce glasses of beer for $7.
“We wanted to break it down so people have choices,” said Causey.
In addition, 32-ounce crowlers are available and they will fill 64-ounce growlers for folks who want to take some of Mica Town’s craft beer home. Wine is also available at Mica Town.
The McDowell News asked the couple if they plan to ever have their beer canned or bottled for retail sale in stores. “We’d love to in the future but for now it’s not on our radar,” said Causey.
Mica Town will have two other bartenders working there, in addition to Snyder and Causey.
On the right side of Mica Town’s first floor there is a large bar with a cedar top. The inside is decorated with antiques to give it that down-home atmosphere.
“It’s very much familiar to me,” said Causey. “We grew up with antiques. This is what our house looks like.”
The mugs belonging to members of the Mug Club will be stored here behind the bar. Mug Club members are those patrons who made a donation earlier this year to help this brewery become a reality.
In addition to the sign, Turtle Laboratories made an inside metal wall around the barrels and fermentors, which are housed on the left side of the first floor. The artistry in the wall’s panels highlight the different ingredients of beer: water, malt, hops and yeast. One panel proudly declares “Craft beer made in Marion NC.”
Snyder said they are doing their best to use locally sourced ingredients for their beer. All of the spent grain left over from the brewing goes to Whitehouse Beef & Berry Farm in Marion, which is helping a local grower.
“He’s helping us by not having to put so much in the trash can,” said Snyder.
The work that was done for their building was locally sourced as well. They used mostly McDowell companies along with some from Buncombe.
The outdoor deck’s metal wall was also made by Turtle Labs and the metal panels feature the symbols of Mica Town. Lights are suspended over the deck. During the warmer months, this should be a popular spot for local and tourists alike. It will also be a welcoming place for canine companions. “We invite people to bring their dogs for the outside deck,” said Causey.
Like Refinery 13 and Spillway Bridge & Co., Mica Town won’t be a restaurant. But pre-packaged food like chips, cheese and hummus will be available as well as free popcorn. Patrons are welcome to bring in food or have it delivered.
“We’d love to make connections with food trucks,” said Causey.
There’s also an assortment of non-alcoholic drinks.
Mica Town Brewing is the latest in a series of other similar businesses that have opened in Marion during 2017 and more are planned for 2018. XYZ Spirits, which sells craft beer, wine and assorted spirits, opened for business on Monday, March 20 on East Court Street. Refinery 13 taproom opened later that same month at 13 N. Main St. Both have been quite popular and have brought renewed activity to the downtown. Spillway Bridge & Co. taproom and music hall opened earlier this month. A meadery and another brewery could open next year.
Mica Town and Refinery 13 are on the same block of North Main where Burrito Bros. and the Crooked Door Coffee House are located.
“Asheville has its South Slope breweries, now we have the Marion North Block - I’ll drink to that,” posted Jon Ridings of Marion on the brewery’s Facebook page.
Mica Town will be open from 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and from 3 to 11 p.m. on Friday. It will be open from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. More information can be found at their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/micatownbrewing/
In July 2016, Snyder and Causey moved to Marion but they did not plan to stay or even open a brewery at that time. Instead, they fell in love with the city’s charm and its potential for something better. They also learned that the city of Marion, the McDowell Chamber of Commerce and the Marion Business Association were all working to recruit a brewery here. Snyder’s engineering background and experience with home brewing along with Causey’s event management experience at the Montreat Conference Center seemed like a natural fit for Marion’s first craft brewery, according to an article by the Chamber.
What they have done is similar to what has already happened at Refinery 13, Burrito Bros., Turtle Laboratories and Spillway Bridge & Co. This young couple has taken a vacant old structure in downtown Marion and invested their time and money into making something new and exciting for this community. As young entrepreneurs, they believe in Marion’s potential.
“We want to be a family space, a community space,” said Causey.