Friday, October 10, 2014

Research and More Research

When Brian's not crafting hives out of reclaimed materials, building a hive lifter, or tending to the bees, he's researching extensively not only the ins and outs of beekeeping, but also the requirements and logistics of starting a meadery.  Some of the things on this list include finding commercial space for a production facility, licensing and permits, product branding, distribution strategies and sourcing of fermenters.

Some light reading on keeping bees, making wine and starting a winery. 

This treasure from the library is a 1935 copy of 'The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture' by the well known beekeeper and founder of the A.I. Root Candle Co.

Upon finding out the costs of an individual fermenter, Brian set to researching either welding his own or hiring a welder to do the job for him. He needs about a dozen fermenters and he's now found a local company who will fabricate them for us. To be able to provide engineering specs, he set to building these scale models of fermenting tanks out of paper.


Part of the research process had been visiting new and established meaderies. Brian has now been to several meaderies located in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and Ohio. He's also been to lots of wineries and breweries to see their operations.  Every visit has been invaluable for providing information on permits, operations and/or handy tricks of the trade. We've been encouraged by how welcoming all of the mead makers have been and how willing they are to share anything they have learned or wished they had done differently.

The most urgent task on our to-do list currently is finding commercial space to house the meadery. Once this is secured he can begin the six to twelve month process of getting federal, state and local permits. Unfortunately, fermentation can't begin until all permits have been secured and since our mead can take up to a year to make, having a product in hand is feeling a long way off as it is.

We're feeling a bit antsy about getting the right commercial space as there is a delicate mix of considerations including whether or not it should include room to expand, whether the space allows for a tasting room and selling of mead on-site and if it will be located in an industrial district or somewhere with foot traffic. All of these factors impact on cost per square foot of course, and we're exploring options all over the city to see where we might find the most optimal space. Thankfully we're able to call on a growing network of friends and contacts in the brewing and sustainability sectors and beyond to meet relevant people, get ideas for location options and help us to remember what an exciting venture this is when it all seems a bit overwhelming!



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