View Full Version : Suggestions when starting a Meadery...

02-10-2004, 11:02 PM
Hi All out there who want to start a meadery! We applaud and support you.

For any type of Meadery no matter the budget it is agreeably a large task to figure out how to start. I know meaderies who are commercial and operating out of their homes with a pretty small production capacity to meaderies operating with the goal of over 20,000 liters a year and more.

First I would define the type of Meadery one wants to operate

-There are basically three ways to go: 1) Set up a meadery and produce your own product. 2) Start a grape winery and also produce mead, maybe 25% of the mead on the market is made by a winery also producing grape wine 3) Contract out the production of your mead (much lower start up costs).

-Determine the name of the Meadery, logo design, etc.

-Decide will you have a tasting room or not?

-Beginning staff (a mead maker is a wise first employee)

-What state will the Meadery in? Figure out the laws of that state to determine what you are allowed to do as a winery, when you are allowed to be open, what licenses you need, what will your state taxes be, etc.

-Type of equipment (wise to have the mead maker help in these decisions). More of a winery or more of a brewery?

-What market will you go after (wine drinkers, beer drinkers, both?)

-Apply for your Federal and state paperwork as soon as you can because it sometimes takes a VERY long time. Again, apply early. So figure out some of your key recipes first because you will then have to submit the formula of each brand to the BATF for approval and once approved then submit your label for approval. Wine America's http://www.wineamerica.org/ label submission service to submit labels to the ATF is a very helpful service.

-Signage for your store front, promotional materials, etc. should all be designed right in the beginning.

-Design a plan (based on estimated production time) of when you think your first product will be ready for market. (Remember to apply for those labels from the BATF asap because this can hold you up).

-Plan a PR push for when that first product will be available for the market. The day you release the first product is when you can consider you are really open for business.

-Plan to attend and or enter if you have commercial product the International Mead Festival - Honeywines of the World November 5 and 6. You can taste the largest collection of commercial meads and talk shop with others in the industry. Go to www.meadfest.com for dates and information.

Type of Equipment to get:

I get the question allot in regards to what type of equipment is best to purchase for a commercial meadery. I will always argue that one should prioritize finding the mead maker first before purchasing any equipment.

Whoever will be making mead in a commercial facility is going to have strong feelings on what type of system will allow them to produce quality mead. Could be a brewery set up (just without the mash ton) or a winery set up too.

Another key item to cover is production capacity. Meaning how much mead does the company plan to produce in the first three years? Factor in costs of ingredients (honey is up there as one of the most expensive base fermentables on the market) and also try to figure out how much mead will you need to sell in order to eventually cover costs. You don't want to buy a system that you outgrow too quickly and in the same vain you don't want to buy a system that is so large that you simply won't ever utilize all your fermentor space.

Also base your needs on the physical space that the meadery will be in. Some equipment is so large it needs to be housed in high ceiling facilities. Other equipment is so wide that you need to make sure it will be able to fit through an entry way into the facility.

Used equipment is a hot item for many start ups. Check out North American Brewing Services Kelowna, B.C., Canada http://www.nabrewing.com or
Ager Tank and Equipment http://www.ager-tank-equipment.com here in the states.

An essential piece of equipment I would recommend for any meadery is a hot box (to heat honey so it is not crystallized and much easier to work with).

Best of luck and again my advice is to hire your mead maker, go tour some meaderies, wineries and breweries and then decide what system to purchase.

If you need more specifics feel free to contact us directly as we are available for consulting.

Julia Herz-Honeywine.com and Redstone Meadery
David Myers-Redstone Meadery
For information on the International Mead Festival visit: www.meadfest.com

02-11-2004, 04:25 AM
You raise interesting points, But I'd think most of the readers here have the dream/insanity to believe they are the meadmaker.

Vicky Rowe
02-11-2004, 09:18 AM
OK, Thirsty, I gotta wonder what you meant here.....I read the post and interpreted it as a basic guide to getting started in a commercial mead venture. Did you read it different?


02-11-2004, 07:03 PM
What I meant was that in the posts, which were very good advice IMO, there is an emphasis on hiring a meadmaker. Presumably someone with experience on the commercial level.

As opposed to my opinion that the people with intrest in starting a meadery (for the most part anyway) people who are making small batches of homebrew and think it might be a really cool thing to scalle up to commercial basis.

I admit being possessed of such dreams/insanity myself... If I do start I would find a way to get a local gentleman here to Assist me for a year or so Making a large batch of his barrel Cyser. In this case it would be , say 10 - 15 barrels instead of the 1 barrel a year he normally makes. Just seems that experienced professional Meadmakers are a little thin on the ground..

As Proof that I am a sufferer of delusions of meadery. I've started touring small Wineries in TN and asking about equipment, process etc. In the last three weeks I've been to 2 different winery, not thier normal tour, but arranged tours with thier winemakers. It has been very interesting. I've even started trying to put together a list of equipment that would be needed to start.

hehe where financing would come I have no clue.