By Gary Glancy
It’s amazing the creative ideas that longtime buddies can conjure up when meeting over a beer. Brandon Edwards and Brad Fountain are living proof, and now Madison County has a craft brewery to call its own.
“We thought, ‘What if we opened a brewery here in Marshall?’” recalls Fountain of the conversation he had with Edwards about pursuing real-estate investment opportunities in the area. “And bam, we just ran with it.”
The Madison County Brewing Company was born.
Tucked quaintly on the banks of the French Broad River 30 minutes north of Asheville, downtown Marshall provides a gathering place for locals and an intimate, small-town escape for outdoor-loving Ashevillians and tourists to enjoy Main Street’s shops and eateries, following a scenic hike or river excursion.
Thanks to Edwards and Fountain, who say the Marshall community supported their venture in a big way, the town has added malty ambers, hoppy IPAs and earthy farmhouse-style ales to its allure for visitors and locals alike. They converted the old Town Hall building next to the fire department on North Main Street to a 3,000-square-foot tasting room, brew house, covered patio and back deck overlooking the French Broad and Blannahassett Island.
“The deck was very cool,” says Andy Wallace of Asheville during a recent mid-day visit to Mad Co Brewing, as it’s called. Wallace and Niki Gilbert stopped in following a hike to nearby Max Patch and a delicious meal at Main Street neighbor The Sweet Monkey Café and Bakery. They were enjoying a pint of one of Mad Co’s house beers, a Cascadian dark ale (or black IPA).
Mad Co opened its doors last October, and until only recently had been mostly featuring guests taps of other breweries’ beers while head brewer Ian Yancich was busy crafting recipes and testing them out on the small 1.5-barrel brew house. In July, Yancich began introducing “slow, quiet releases” of his beers on Fridays, “to give something to our customers who had been waiting for so long for our own beer.” Then in August, the brewery hosted a celebratory event unveiling its full lineup of six house-made brews.
While Mad Co brews a variety of different styles to appease many tastes, one of its specialties is farmhouse ale. In fact, four of the fermentation vessels are dedicated exclusively to these unique, complex ales. The first two released were a surprisingly huge hit among locals who had originally been requesting more traditionally popular offerings such as pale ales, IPAs and amber ales. Yancich would like to eventually incorporate fresh, local farm fare into his farmhouse ales, a practice for which the style historically is noted.
“That’s the beauty of this (small brewing) system—we can be so nimble,” says Edwards. “We can turn on a dime and decide what [styles] we want to do.”
Mad Co offers a limited food menu with an uber-local flair: house-prepared bratwurst with condiments made especially for the brewery by Hollie West of Sweet Monkey. The brewery also hosts live music each Friday and trivia night on Thursdays. It has all added up to bring a new dimension to Main Street.
“We feel super lucky to be here in downtown Marshall,” says Edwards. “It’s got a good vibe and good people.”
Madison County Brewing Co. is located at 45 North Main Street in downtown Marshall. Hours are 2 to 9:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday, noon to 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 8:30 p.m. on Sunday.