New brewer brings unique flavors to Marion tap room
Peanut butter and jelly beer or smoked habanero stout, anyone?
Beer fans ready to try something unique can head to Another Road Brewing Company in Marion, where new head brewer Neil Blair is adding some experimental brews to the craft brewery’s regular mix of wheat beers, stouts and ales.
His twists are just one of the changes at the brewery, which owners Alex Zoll and Jeorgia Robison first opened two years ago. They started with a tiny tap room tucked into a basement on Eighth Avenue in Marion, but on July 1, they relocated to a much bigger tap room at 631 Ninth St., expanding seating from 24 people to 88.
“Most days in our old location, people would walk down there and leave because they couldn’t get a seat,” Zoll said. “For a long time, we worked really hard not to advertise, because we were so busy we couldn’t keep up with the sales.”
They also recently moved their brewing facility to Cedar Rapids, expanding from a one-third barrel to a three barrel system. But it was important to them to keep the tap room in Marion, Zoll said.
“We all absolutely love being in Marion,” he said.
Their new tap room originally was a grain storage facility and has more recently been a fish store, a Baptist church and a counseling office. Zoll and Robison spent more than six months renovating the space, working with contractors to expose the wooden floors and ceiling beams.
Regular events from the original tap room, like vinyl night on the second Tuesday of each month and live music continue, in the new space.
With 24 taps, compared to six taps in the original tap room, Another Road Brewing now offers craft beers from other breweries as well as its own brews. Next month, owners hope to add liquor as well, and a kitchen still is under renovation – this fall they plan to begin serving “higher end bar food.” The menu still is being developed, Zoll said.
Other developments also are in the works, including plans to get Another Road Brewing beer on tap at other bars and adding outdoor patio seating.
In May, the brewery brought on Blair, 22, of Cedar Rapids, as its new head brewer. Largely self-taught, he got his start as a home brewer and recently started training with former Big Grove Brewery brewmaster Bill Heinrich.
He has learned how to make Another Road’s flagship beers and has been adding his own touches to the lineup, with brews like rosemary pale ale, the peanut butter and jelly stout and the habanero stout.
“I like experimenting in the kitchen. Once I started drinking craft beer, I thought, huh, it would be interesting if I could do this kind of experimenting with beer,” he said.
He likes to play with the same flavors he enjoys in cooking and seeing if they can translate to lagers, ales and stouts. The habanero beer, for example, is meant to reflect the flavor profiles of food cooked with the spicy pepper.
“It should hopefully have a little bit of the fruitiness of the pepper and have a little bit of heat on the finish,” he said. “It should just warm the back of the throat.”
WHERE: 631 Ninth St., Marion
WHEN: 3:30 to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday
DETAILS: (319) 212-8563