If we told you, we'd have to kill you.
Fairport Brewing Company introduces Monroe County's and Rochester, New York's first Meadery.
What do you get when you cross twin beekeepers, a Rochester, NY brewery owner and a fellowship trained neurologist? Well....it's a secret, but here are some of the clues.
It started during Covid-19, the brewery at University Ave had just opened from lockdown on January 15th, 2020, and as you can imagine, it was quiet. It was so quiet that Tim, the owner, would bring in his guitar and play to an empty facility in hopes for better times. Kind of a sad sight to see for sure. That's when the door opened and three human beings (two guys and a girlfriend) and a beautiful golden retriever walked in. It was the start.
Jason and Jacob (left) had moved back from fighting forest fires on the west coast with a dream of beekeeping. They loved Fairport Brewing's beer and became regulars onsite as people started to drift back into normalcy. Tim got to know them well and was impressed by their character, work ethic, sense of humor and interests; especially in beekeeping. Before long, as the definition of luck would have it, preparation would meet opportunity.
Just a quick note on opportunity... It's funny- it never comes along when you are ready. It just happens when you least expect it and it's up to you to run with it or let it go.
The timing couldn't have been worse from a post-Covid financial standpoint, but it's tough to watch an opportunity pass you by.
A few weeks later in mid February a dynamic, and we mean really dynamic, scholar of Neurology at URMC named Dustin Smyth walked into the brewery and after about a six-hour conversation convinced Tim that he needed to make mead and hard cider. Always eager to learn, Tim was convinced and excited that he knew exactly where to get the honey. Things were really coming together.
Tim introduced Dustin to Jacob and Jason and the four started experimenting with mead, amongst other things. It quickly became a brotherhood.
Dustin has since graduated URMC and is now practicing in Idaho. He will be checking in from time to time and hopefully doing some tele-zoom-meadery with us in the near future.
Vertical Integration is Cool
After the first test batch, Fairport Brewing hired both Jason and Jacob (the beekeepers) to head up not only the mead program but also everything else honey-related. We immediately filed for a Meadery license from NYS in June 2021, received it in November 2021, and combined our craft beverage licenses.
Have to say...there's something really cool about vertical integration. Making mead is one thing, but to make it with the honey cultivated by your own employees is out of this world. These guys go to war with bees to get the goods. Oftentimes they would come into the taproom with swollen hands from getting stung through their protective equipment. It takes passionate people to put on that equipment and go in for the honey. Think about it...what other animal goes after honey? The bear and the honey badger. Two really tough animals. You know the story about the honey badger! Unlike grapes in wine, you have to contend with those little stinging, flying insects known as bees that will try to kill you for taking their food supply.
Vertical integration means we have something to do with every step of the process, from maintaining hives and supporting mother nature to slapping the labels on the bottles. It's about as down-to-earth as you can get.
A cool collaboration that started with Covid.
A Little Bit About Mead
Mead is the undisputed oldest alcohol beverage known to man, probably found in a tree stump somewheres around 8000 years ago. In its simplest form, it is fermented honey. It can range anywhere from 3% to more than 20% ABV and it can be still or sparkling, and can range from dry to sweet.
Mead was produced in ancient history in Europe, Africa and Asia. Pottery vessels found dating back 7000 years in Northern China have shown chemical signatures consistent with honey and organic compounds associated with fermentation. But depending on who you ask and how much they have had to drink, mead can go back 30,000 years.
Our family of Beekeeper's Secret Mead
Bee sure to come in for a taste. See you soon!