Carolina Beer Guy: Mica Town Brewing is Marion’s first brewery

O PIONEERS: Mica Town Brewing opened in Marion on Dec. 31. It is the first brewery in McDowell County, which still does not allow alcohol sales outside of the city of Marion.
O PIONEERS: Mica Town Brewing opened in Marion on Dec. 31. It is the first brewery in McDowell County, which still does not allow alcohol sales outside of the city of Marion. Photo courtesy Mica Town Brewing

The craft brewing boom has moved into McDowell County.

Mica Town Brewing opened Dec. 31, the first brewery in Marion and the latest arrival in a seemingly endless wave of craft brewing around the mountains. More than 70 breweries are now open in Western North Carolina, with a little over half of those in Asheville and Buncombe County.

Mica Town occupies an old storefront at 25 Brown Drive in Marion. Former homebrewer Jason Snyder and his wife, Emily Causey, started work on the project last March, when they purchased the building. The brewery takes its name from Snyder’s former career in the mining industry.

“We realized that there wasn’t a brewery within a 25-mile radius of Marion,” Snyder says. “We started talking with the city, and it had a lot of interest in having a brewery. So, we decided to take the leap.”

The history of the two-story brewery building is uncertain. A deed indicates it was constructed in 1900, but it does not appear on a 1922 map. “We’re thinking that it was built in the ’30s or ’40s,” Snyder says.

Through the years, the space has had a variety of uses, including a tax office and a radio station. “We went in ourselves and gutted it out and got it back down to the original brick,” Snyder says. “We went for a retro look and the original feel.”

The building has an occupancy rating of 49. The upstairs room offers games, and there’s also a deck that Snyder hopes will be popular when warmer weather returns.

Snyder installed a 4-barrel brewing system with four 8-barrel fermenters. To open the brewery, he turned out 1-barrel batches of an IPA; a light, spiced winter lager; a German-style schwarzbier; a grisette (an old style once popular with Belgian miners); a Belgian-style dubbel; a ginger beer; a Scottish ale; a kolsch and a cask porter. Snyder looks to produce around 500 barrels of beer in his first year.

“I would like one of the flagships to be the grisette because it fits my background in mining and geology,” Snyder says. “As a homebrewer, I was all over the place. I love to experiment with different styles. Come springtime, I’ll dabble in some sours.”

Being the first brewery in town, Snyder predicts some customers will likely need a little education on styles. “Craft brewing is new to Marion — McDowell County is still dry. We are more than willing to share our knowledge with people,” he says.

For now, Mica Town beers will only be sold on draft at the brewery. “We want to get a handle on traffic through the tasting room, but I would love to distribute some to local establishments by spring or early summer.”

Mica Town Brewing is at 25 Brown Drive, Marion. Tasting room hours are 4-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 3-11 p.m. Friday, noon-11 p.m. Saturday and noon-6 p.m. Sunday. The tasting room is closed on Mondays. For details, visit micatownbrewing.com.

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About Tony Kiss
Tony Kiss covers brewing news for the Xpress. He has been reporting on the Carolina beer scene since 1994. He's also covered distilling and cider making and spent 30 years reporting on area entertainment. Follow me @BeerguyTK

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