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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Erin, NY /Florence SC
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    3,361

    Default Mead in quantity

    My kids are finally home and back in the business - That's great! My son-in-law comes from a long line of Vintners in Sicily and is going gang busters on plans for producing mead for our retail markets, an idea I've tossed around in my mind for years but never had the time to explore in depth. He is not an experianced vinter although he is pretty smart and pretty meticulous. I've made mead and beer over the years but a batch here and a batch there with a wide range of results. I've seen the good, the bad and the ugly in wine bottle. I'm not the type A personality though and I'm more about the fun and the experiance in my brewing than the science.

    I'm of the mindset work on getting the Bureaucratic stuff in place and accept we may have a couple years of a research stage to define a consistent product and process. I think he and my accomplice of a wife are more in the mindset of doing 10-5 gallon batches at a time recording the results and be up and running next year making mead for retail markets. There seems to be a ton involved, not least of which is the art of brewing.

    Anyone doing this on a commerical basis? Any thoughts from the many brewers here on the concept that brewing is just a science and once the science is a plan the results are stable?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Algonquin, IL, USA
    Posts
    638

    Default

    In order to sell any alcoholic beverage for human consumption, you need to be licensed and probably inspected regularly by the Health department. Can you say "taxes"? There will definitely be some costs involved. Don't make the mistake of offering any alcoholic beverage for sale without the proper licenses. You could get into some serious trouble.

    I have been brewing now for 15 years, and although I don't sell anything I brew, I have seen many home brewers "try" to get into the business.

    A great resource on home-brewing is

    http://www.brewboard.com/

    The "brewboard" is to home brewing what "beesource" is to beeks. A great bunch of "guys" giving great advice.

    Ken

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Swalwell, AB
    Posts
    579

    Default

    In Canada, there is a growing number of cottage meaderies, encouraged as a 'value-added' project for small farms. There are regulations, but they are relaxed somewhat for on-site production and sale. The rules vary by province and in some, there are government agencies who provide guidance and encouragement with food testing facilities and consultants available for reasonable cost. There are minimal taxes blow a certain (fairly high for a farm) production level, then the heavy taxes really kick in.

    The first thing to do is contact your State liquor and/or farm agencies by phone and ask if there are special provisions for farm brewing, then if not, what the hoops are to jump through to get started and stay legal.

    It may be much easier than you think.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Jenison, MI
    Posts
    1,514

    Default

    Checkout www.gotmead.com if you haven't already. There was several articles over there that I've seen about starting commercial meaderies (or wineries).

    Lots of very serious mead makers.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Enfield,Ct.
    Posts
    470

    Default

    Erin seems to be midway between the wine trails,Ithaca and the Corning Glass Museum. Good tourist area.

    It's also my wifes name.

    Good luck!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Erin, NY /Florence SC
    Posts
    3,361

    Default

    "There are regulations, but they are relaxed somewhat for on-site production and sale."

    Thanks Allend, I searched this out and found NYS does have something very similar. Much like farm processing for other types of processed foods.

    Thanks for the web sites and information. We aren't home brewers to speak of, my family runs a rather busy honey business between the Fingerlakes and NYC. I've made some mead and beer but by know means proficient at it in any sense of the word. This will be done by my adult kids who are quite a bit smarter than me! Mead just seems like the next logical product. I have a hunch this is moving ahead in my family and business with or without me so any insight is greatly appreciated. I don't mind being on the tail of the bull sometimes as long as I have an idea where it's going.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Erin, NY /Florence SC
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    3,361

    Default

    "I have seen many home brewers "try" to get into the business."

    Ken, those you saw fail, any particular common cause for the failures?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Algonquin, IL, USA
    Posts
    638

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Joel View Post
    "I have seen many home brewers "try" to get into the business."

    Ken, those you saw fail, any particular common cause for the failures?
    They usually bite off more than they can chew. I believe that the equipment costs for a micro can run in the 100K range easily. We have had two micro-brewery closures in the last year around here, and one more on its way out.

    Thinking of it though, it doesn't seem too applicable in this situation though. I would just try not to dump a bunch of money into it all at once. Take it slow. A couple of 12 gal. conical fermentors could be had for $1500. Not too big of an investment.

    I felt really sorry for this one particular home brewer. His dream was a micro and a cigar bar combo. He spent a boat load fixing up a NICE place, only to have Illinois go smoke-free on him within his first year. Bummer for him. I heard he'll be out of business soon. Hopefully not.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Swalwell, AB
    Posts
    579

    Default

    One option potentially is to have a winery or brewery do the actual brewing using your honey and recipe and also the bottling on a custom basis, then label and sell the product from your farm.

    The rule may permit this some places and not others.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Newberg, OR USA
    Posts
    146

    Default

    Don't forget you have to have a "GOOD" product.

    I would not even worry about the rest untill you can produce a HIGH quality mead, and repeat it over and over again. That alone will be years in the making.

    Not to rain on the parade, but quality product first, OR really you have nothing to start with.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,045

    Default

    Andrew's right on. Most of the folks I've talked to have had a devil of a time getting licensed. Most regulatory agencies, it seems, can't understand anything what ain't beer, wine or likker. Both meaderies in our area struggled to even find anyone who knew who they should talk to.

    The more successful one, IMO, is successful because in addition to trads and big meads, they make a few modest-alcohol, sparkling fruited meads that are very dirnkable and very "approachable" for a not-very-mead-savvy public. Kind of an "intro" mead. New Belgium, a large regional brewery, used the same strategy in making a beer that has character but is light and drinkable so as to not put off McBeer drinkers from giving it a go. (That's Fat Tire for those who've met it).
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Erin, NY /Florence SC
    Posts
    3,361

    Default

    The concerns raised here are the same ones which I have had. It seems a consistently high quality product, a must (no pun intended) for me, is a 1st step and should be done a few carboys at a time, honing the skills and process. I look at this and figure 7-8 months per test batch. I will say I have customers who make knock your socks off good stuff in their 400 sq. ft apts in Brooklyn with our honey. I've looked at the prices on commercial operations. We are not looking at a huge amount to start, just one more bee specific product to add to our line and grow. Even at that we still have to, at the very least, lease a building.

    Perhaps my 1st step should be to see how much my son-in-law wants to invest in this endeavor? Is there a school for this?

    {Erin seems to be midway between the wine trails,Ithaca and the Corning Glass Museum. Good tourist area.}

    It is and it is. We have done 90% of our marketing IN NYC ironically. This year we are planning on increasing our local exposure. Jack, you should come visit and have Erin get her picture taken in front of our town sign!

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