Pull up a chair near the fire and relax. I’ll tell you the tale of the Ozark Viking Meadery, LLC.
Many years ago, a man began to explore a re-enactment that allowed him to be a Viking! While attending local events, in the evenings around a campfire there were stories told of the adventures of brave men and women, their deeds on the field of battle, their skills with broad ax and arrow. And along with these tales of daring around the warmth of companionship also came bottles of mead. A friend suggested they make some, and so our brave and adventurous warrior learned the basics of making this special brew. The combining of yeast, honey, and water. Watching it brew, sometimes adding berries or spice to create the delicious beverage called MEAD!
Our hero was intrigued and began exploring the actual process, the types of yeast, the various recipes that he found through books on mead making, online with the mystical Internet, and from his own trials and experiments to perfect the various flavors of mead. Along the way he shared his results with friends and family until he developed the recipes, as well as the knowledge for mead-making that cannot come from books. The knowledge of experience, of talking with others who brew this beverage to compare experiences and beverages.
With the encouragement of family and friends, our hero entered two of his flavors of mead into an amateur wine contest in November 2019. His experience there not only demonstrated that this mead could have a larger market, but the Blackberry Mead also won the contest and his other flavor had only 3 votes less (and would have taken second place if there was a second place).
Next our intrepid hero began to investigate the possibility of opening a professional meadery. With only a very few assets, he began looking for assistance through federal, state, and local grants and loans. He took his retirement monies to begin with renting a basement and establishing a kitchen in which to make the mead. He applied for the licenses to meet federal and state regulations. Then COVID hit and the pandemic slowed down everything.
At the end of May 2021 (a year and a half after beginning to apply for licenses), the final state license came through and the beginning of the Ozark Viking Meadery and the production of its mead. Alas, due to his lack of business assets or personal assets, he was unable to find financial backing in the financial sector. He therefore has had some assistance from personal investors and his own money to begin his dream of the Ozark Viking Meadery, LLC. The beginning is much smaller than he had originally desired, but it will be open for wholesale clients in late December / early January and the Grand Opening will be scheduled for some time in the Spring 2022.
The Ozark Viking Meadery, LLC has determined that to keep the quality of the mead, it should be made in the ‘old school way’, in small batches. Six and a half gallon carboys are used to make the mead. It’s allowed to ferment till ready then racked over to remove the sludge from the bottom, it gets pasteurized, and allowed to rest and again let anything settle to the bottom that might remain. It gets racked a second time. Now it is tasted, the flavor of the mead is checked for the desired complexity and corrected if needed. It then is allowed to set a bit longer until it’s done. It then gets bottled, labeled, and readied for sale. This process takes about six months to go from yeast, honey, water, and possibly adding berries or spices to the smooth, delicious meads. The flavors that The Ozark Viking Meadery, LLC is beginning to produce includes Wildflower Mead, Orange Blossom Mead, Elderberry Mead, Spiced Elderberry Mead, Cinnamon Vanilla Mead, and Viking Brew. Later flavors to be added to this will include Strawberry Mead, Apple Pie Mead, and some other flavors that are still in development.
To begin with our Hero, Daniel Watkins, is the brew-master with the knowledge and experience of 20+ years. He has been working steadily to fill the carboys with mead, doing the racking, and working with a helper for the technology. He has begun working with his son, Bo, teaching him the processes for making the best mead you have ever tasted.
The Ozark Viking Meadery, LLC has a mission not only to create the best mead commercially available in Missouri, but to also help with the local economy through eventually creating more jobs for the area, for using local, Missouri based ingredients to make the mead, and to even eventually become a favorite of tourists in the area. People now come to the area for the natural wonders, the fishing, camping, and floating on the rivers. In the future, plans include tours of the meadery, local crafts sold in the meadery and a tasting room set up for retail sales.
Up soon: A Social History of Mead