We are Mead-Makers!
When we moved to the farm 15 years ago and I got my first beehive, Rog began dreaming of making mead (wine made with honey.) We did start making mead with my honey and then toying with the idea of opening a little meadery to enhance our wood-fired pizza nights. Several years ago, the owners of Post Town Winery (which, sadly, no longer exists) invited us to make a commercial batch of our mead in their winery under their label. We made 80 gallons of raspberry mead and it was a tasty success; we began serious meadery planning then, and now, three years later, we are poised to open!
It was the bean-to-bar chocolate-making that actually prompted us to start construction of the kitchen addition. We needed a dedicated space, one that was more climate-controlled than our commercial kitchen, and we decided to make it a mead- and chocolate-making room. This space used to be a lean-to wing of the barn, with a dirt floor and large barn doors, not walls, where we stored our wood for baking wood-fired bread and pizza.
True to our usual modus operandi, we incorporated reused, repaired, repurposed and re-imagined materials everywhere we could. Rog had a brainstorm idea of using wallk-in cooler walls that he found on FB Marketplace to enclose the room. We also found used windows to let in natural light and provide a view of the farm while we are working.
We love the floor - epoxy over the poured concrete. The room looks smaller than this now, with fermentation tanks, chocolate-making equipment, a 2-compartment sink, a hand-washing sink, shelving galore, work surfaces, and a big refrigerator.
With Rog's work hours greatly reduced and no public events on the farm, building the meadery became our Pandemic project. We found used bowling alleys in Winona and installed them in the south side of the barn, which we planned as the future mead-tasting room.
We searched for a bar for a long time and finally found this beautiful artist-created bar-top in Frontenac, once built for a woman who wanted an English pub in her basement. Rog built a bar base from beautiful, old, farmhouse doors.
Because he was so pleased with the walk-in cooler panels in the mead-making room, Rog acquired a semi-load of panels from a huge warehouse reconstruction for other farm projects, including the ceiling of the mead-tasting room.
I thought they looked a bit industrial, and offered to stencil them to make them look sort of like a pressed tin ceiling. We ordered a large stencil online that reminded us of our Squash Blossom Farm logo. The greenhouse was the perfect place to stencil these huge panels (some are 4 feet by 16 feet.)
Installing them was easier said than done in a 110-year-old barn where nothing is square and the ceiling has crazy angles. Thanks to Jason McKenzie for his hard work and clever installation ideas.
While he pursued licensure from the Bureau of Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau, Rog began acquiring equipment, such as the fermentation tanks.
We will be serving mead by the glass, both from bottles and on tap, during the summer, so he was delighted when he found the perfect kegerator. I found this gorgeous cherry shelving unit for our back bar at the ReStore!
In our search for meadery materials, we have stumbled upon other cool elements, such as a huge etched glass window and a large painting we both love that depicts a cozy bar scene. We later found out it was painted for and hung in the Loring Cafe in Minneapolis!
Rog was finally able to begin making mead and has been experimenting with a variety of plain meads, session meads (meads that are less sweet, lower alcohol and carbonated, more similar to beer), melomels (meads made with fruit or berries - so far our melomels\s include elderberry-aronia, raspberry, and cranberry with a touch of rosemary) and methaglyn (meads made with spices, such as ginger.) He has even made one mead with a hint of our bean-to-bar chocolate!
We hired a chef, Travis Heim, to serve appetizers and food in our mead-tasting room this summer! Rog had a training session with our staff so that they will be knowledgeable about how mead is made - and, of course, some tasting was involved.
We bottled our first batch of raspberry mead in time to serve at our Mother's Day Brunch in the greenhouse.
We now have a great variety of delightful meads ready to drink and our mead-tasting room is nearing completion! We intend to open as soon as the final electrical wiring and inspections are complete - tentatively the weekend after Memorial Day!
Two weeks ago, Rog and I toasted our accomplishment with our very first labeled bottle of mead.
We are so eager for you to come to the farm this summer and enjoy our meads! - as well as food selections from our tempting mead room menu, and our pizza, of course!
We will open for our first pizza night on May 29th (click the "pizza" tab onthei website to order pizza). Meadery opening details and schedule will be posted as soon as we know them!
Hope to see you soon!