Hi all, aspiring mead maker here!

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Dominicanis

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Looking forward to reading over the forums and learning a bit.

I do have a question to kick things off:

If my eventual dream is to open my own small meadery (equivalent to a microbrewery), with a 5-10 year timeline from now, what are some steps to take in my home production to start figuring out the quirks of scaling up and if that goal is really for me?
 

dralarms

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Welcome to WMT
 

Ajmassa

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Good for you. And welcome.
If it were me, I'd want to start networking and building a brand. Firstly I'd make some killer meads of different varieties. And then come up with the name of the company.
Slap some labels on the bottles with your info, and test the market. There's a place near me in Columbus New Jersey which is like the Walmart of fleamarket's. For a small fee you can set up a booth on the weekend and hawk your product. It's always packed. I've seen some really great little companies expand this way. There's the "hot sauce" couple there every weekend, the pickle making family, the guys selling refurbished furniture-- all kinds. Have samples on the ready and see how it goes.
 

Mismost

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BEE HIVES...start now, it takes lots of honey to make lots of mead. If you have your hives, you have more control of your basic raw material. The hives could also turn out to be a good "side line business" leased to gardeners, farmers, fruit orchards.

JerriCurl here on this site prodded me into my first mead which is "sitting until summer is over" per her instructions. A blueberry mead, awesome color, very clear now and I haven't even tasted it yet PER INSTRUCTIONS!
 

BernardSmith

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Hi Dominicanis - and welcome.
Not involved in any business of any kind- I'm an academic - but I think you really do need to have a very deep understanding of both the market AND the product. Are you planning to play in the same pool as wine makers or in the pool with brewers and cider makers? In other words, are you making a honey wine or something that folk will drink by the pint? The first is relatively high alcohol by volume, the latter is much lower. But low ABV meads may be thin in flavor since all other things being equal all the flavor comes from the honey and low ABV meads use far less honey.
How good are the meads you make today? When you share your meads with people at your local home brew club what do the club members tell you? Your friends and family are poor judges because anyone getting anything for nothing from those they are friendly with are not likely to be blindingly honest.

Professional mead makers presumably face problems that home mead makers don't. One simple example: yeast under the weight of a column of 1000 gallons of mead behaves very differently from the way that yeast will behave when the column of the liquid above them is one gallon or five. Where will you acquire that kind of practical knowledge? Another example: backsweetening 5 gallons of mead with honey is very different (I have to imagine) from backsweetening 2000 gallons - How easy is it to thoroughly mix and incorporate hundreds of pounds of honey into a finished fermentation?

Not looking for answers but have you thought what your business model would look like: how many barrels of mead will you need to sell each year to remain afloat given fixed and variable costs? How long will it take you make a sellable mead? One month? Two? Six months? A year? More? How much will it cost to make a sellable bottle (think: power stations - They may need to spend billions before they can produce 1 watt of energy). How much money will you need simply to survive before you can package a single bottle? And I am not raising any of these issues to pour cold water on a dream. Far from it. I just think it is always so very important to be very aware of the challenges and hurdles. With such an approach your dream won't become a nightmare
The very best of luck!
 
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