Mark Lyon

Mark Lyon, clad in a T-shirt with his future brewery’s logo on the front, stands next to beer-making equipment he has used to hone his skills and recipes.

Mark and Judy Lyon can brew about 15 gallons of homemade beer in their garage. They plan to expand that capacity by opening a brewery and taproom — within the next year, they hope.

The Lyons don’t have a home for Maquoketa Brewing, but they are searching.

“I want it to be downtown if I can,” explained Lyon, who is a retired software developer and represents Maquoketa’s 5th Ward on the city council. “We’re doing it not so much for money but for economic development, and it would be a kind of cool thing to have downtown.”

A 2016 article in “The Atlantic” magazine titled “Eleven Signs a City Will Succeed” sparked the idea. 

“I saw a lot of things Maquoketa is doing on that list,” Lyon said, “with a progressive city council, the city working well with businesses, and I thought, ‘Yeah, we’ve got this.’ But then I saw No. 11. Whoa, we don’t have that.” 

No. 11 was a brewery.

“A lot of people like to hyper-local source their food, so this is an opportunity to locally source their beer,” he said.

The Lyons have been homebrewing for eight years with friends, creating their own craft beer recipes. They’re ready to share those recipes and others as soon as they can pin down the perfect location. One possibility is 110 S. Main St., which is currently being rehabbed by 563 Designs, Lyon said. 

The couple began working on the taproom and brewery idea in the spring of 2019. But before they can open Maquoketa Brewing, they must obtain a federal brewer’s notice, which amounts to a certification. Before they can obtain the notice, they must sign a lease on a location and buy the equipment, Lyon explained.

Lyon said the federal brewer’s process is about five months behind, “so even if we signed a lease today, it would be at least six months before we’d get up and running.”

Customers would enter the brightly lit, family-friendly Maquoketa Brewing and sample an assortment of beverages in the taproom knowing the beers would be made fresh in the brewery out back. There will be beverages for people of all ages, child through adult. The Lyons also hope to have canned beer or growlers for customers to take home with them.

Watch for further developments.