Like all of us, mead’s roots began in Africa. It is estimated that approximately some 20,000 to 40,000 years ago, Africans started to make a basic version of mead (aka honeywine) which they learned from a natural occurrence in their environment. In the dry season, wild bees would build hives in hollowed-out tree trunks, and those cavities would fill with rain water when the annual rains came. Nature would add some wild yeast (which was floating in the air) as the final addition to this sweet solution, and a spontaneous fermentation would occur. The resulting sweet and alcoholic beverage spread far and wide to multiple geographic locations, into pharaoh’s cups, Viking drinking horns, Medieval courts and these days to a meadery, bar or bottle shop near you.
No one knows precisely when the first meads were made in San Diego County, though home mead making in the region took off in earnest in the late nineties. Harold Gulbransen, a veteran member of the QUAFF homebrewing club and award-winning mead maker recalls that, “I know that this sounds sexist, but a lot of the female spouses found mead a little more interesting… I think the women in the club pushed it more than anything.” Fellow QUAFF veteran member, Mary Anne Bixby concurs. She is a mead maker and her late husband, Horace “Bix” Bixby, was the beer brewer in the family. On American Homebrewers Association’s Mead Day, which started in 2002, QUAFF members would gather at Mary Anne’s and Bix’s house to make and drink mead. To this day they still do so, though Mary Anne readily admits that “the first ones weren’t so good, as we didn’t have the information we have nowadays.”
The most famous of the early “home brewed” mead recipes are probably Charlie Papazian’s mead recipes in his seminal publication, The Complete Joy of Homebrewing. Yet another QUAFF member, Greg Lorton, recalls making Papazian’s “Ginger Mead” in the late 1980s and “using hops and not a lot of honey.” The resulting beverage, he says, “was like an alcoholic ginger ale.” Then, in the early oughts, the publication of Ken Schramm’s book, The Compleat Meadmaker: Home Production of Honey Wine From Your First Batch to Award-winning Fruit and Herb Variations, “upped the game,” says Gulbransen. Nowadays there is plenty of additional information online, with mead makers (both home and pro) adding to the canon on a daily basis.
The good news is that today in San Diego we have a wide variety of meads of all types from a growing number of meaderies. As Vince Obarski of Twisted Horn Mead and Cider reminds us, “never go into a meadery and expect it to taste a certain way — keep an open mind and open palette — don’t fear it, just keep your mind open… no two are ever going to be the same.”
Golden Coast Mead: Oceanside (Est. 2010)
“It takes approximately 10,000 flowers per sip of mead,” Frank Golbeck tells me, based on the calculation that bees have to visit two million flowers in order to create a pound of honey. Golbeck is firmly ensconced in the not-so-secret lives of bees, their honey and the mead it allows him to produce.
When he was a kid, his grandfather used to make and sell mead as a hobby after he retired from the family apple ranch near Yucaipa, California. Golbeck recalls seeing “grumpy old people coming into the tasting room… and my grandpa would pour this golden drink, and they would transform in front of me to laughing friendly people.” When he asked his grandfather what they were drinking, the response was “it’s the adult drink made from honey.”
When Golbeck was around 18 years old, he was helping his grandfather clean out the attic, and was rewarded with the last bottle of mead (which had been there for 14 years). He took the bottle back to UC Berkeley, where he was an undergrad, and shared it with his girlfriend. Golbeck, whose natural tendency is to wax poetic, remembers “a magical evening, like drinking sunshine in the golden hour.” That mead must have had some magic, as his then-girlfriend is now his wife.
Golbeck decided to “cobble a recipe together from the internet,” the result of which was not very good, but Golbeck persisted to the point that eventually his Berkeley buddies were occasionally drinking a lot of his sweet potion.
In 2007, after finishing his undergrad degree, Golbeck headed to San Diego and specifically to the Naval Station at 32nd Street, where he ultimately became a Surface Warfare Officer and would over time find himself “tired and not happy.” With his wife’s encouragement, he changed course and set sail on a journey of mead making. Initially, Golbeck focused on mead making at home in order to refine his recipes and then recruited some friends as business partners to test the viability of a local San Diego meadery.
Praveen Ramineni, a friend from his Berkeley days, came on board to be “the numbers guy,” and Joe Colangelo, an ex-Navy buddy, joined to round out the original trio of investors. In the early days they rotated responsibilities, including helping make the mead.
In October of 2010, Golden Coast Mead (GCM) was born as the first commercial San Diego meadery. The initial goal of the enterprise was to test a proof of concept for a meadery, done by utilizing various co-packing facilities (local wineries) in order to try and prove the concept without having to make at that juncture a heavy capital investment. They were eventually also joined by another mead maker, Joe Connely who came on board to assist Golbeck.
By 2014, Golbeck, Ramineni, and Colangelo had moved GCM to a place of their own on Oceanside Boulevard, where it remains today, sandwiched between a barber and a bagel shop. A distinctly added value is that the parking lot out front also serves the College Boulevard Sprinter Station.
At around the same time that GCM opened in Oceanside, Chris Herr moved from Portland, Maine to California and fortuitously ended up living about a mile and a half from the meadery. Herr, who had previously worked in the tech industry, was also a homebrewer and had over time switched to mead making when he realized that “you can home brew a beer in eight hours or home make some mead in three hours, and have the remaining time to drink!”
Herr says that he “adopted GCM as his clubhouse” before eventually taking a job there in the tasting room to supplement the relatively meagre income he was earning from his primary job, which was working at a convenience store on Camp Pendleton Marine Base. At that time, he was still making mead at home in Oceanside and started sharing some with his new employers. It didn’t take Golbeck long to realize that Herr “was making better mead than we were!”
By 2017, Herr had taken over as the GCM mead maker. Around the time he came on board, the guys had been experimenting with “hard” (as in alcoholic) honey kombucha. A S.C.O.B.Y. (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) from the kombucha accidentally contaminated a batch of traditional mead aging in American oak, causing the mead to sour. This “sweet and sour” mead would eventually become a staple of the meadery, a delicious elixir called “Something Something Sour.” I say “eventually” as Chris had to figure out a bunch of issues in order to reformulate the happy accident; one hundred batches later, he had it down!
In addition to “Something Something Sour” and other “sour meads,” Chris now crafts traditional meads that tend to skew slightly dry, and he’s constantly experimenting with non-traditional meads such as a banana bread bochet mead (bochets are made with caramelized honey). GCM is also currently working on a series of “sweeter, carbonated” lower ABV (7%) session meads.
Raging Cider and Mead: San Marcos (Est. 2015)
While in no way advocating underage drinking, once in a while there is an occurrence with a happy ending. Such is the case with Dave Carr, the co-owner (with his wife Kerry) at Raging Cider and Mead in San Marcos. When Carr was thirteen, he traveled with his parents to England, the country of their birth, to visit family. During that trip, Carr discovered that his height allowed him to be served in pubs despite his age. Back then, Carr had not yet developed a taste for English ales, and so he started drinking ciders and scrumpy (a type of English cider), ensuring the importance of an educated palate going forward.
Carr, who has lived in North County since the age of nine, was a home brewer for about twenty-five years. Like many home brewers during that period, Carr wistfully recalls that he “always wanted to open a brewery,” but as a million breweries opened up, “I realized that the dream was slipping away.”
Then, about twelve years ago, Kerry had to adopt a gluten-free diet, so Dave attempted to make some gluten-free beers. He sprouted his own grains, malted them, crushed them, and “made two big batches of porridge,” he says with a grin. After that, he had a flashback to those miscreant moments of his youth; why not make cider instead? And so he did, making his initial homemade ciders using commercially bought apple juice and then adding different fruits, herbs, and spices.
By 2015, Dave had officially established his business, and then started making ciders with fruit from the 2016 harvest. “We had apple trees on our property, so I started crushing those apples,” he says. By 2017, he had hung out the “Raging” shingle in a business park in San Marcos that also houses his primary business, Crown Steel Manufacturing, which provides custom sheet metal predominantly for restaurants and breweries. Within a year of starting to make ciders, Carr got interested in making meads, admitting that at the time, “I didn’t really know what I was doing… I was making mead like I made cider or beer or anything else.”
At that point, Carr started doing some research, learning modern mead making techniques such as adding nutrients during fermentation. He also began a dialogue with Billy Beltz of Lost Cause Meadery. “I had a lot of talks with Billy,” Carr says, adding that “he gave me some frame of reference and talked to me a lot about temperature control, which was another huge step up for me to be able to make meads.”
Most of Carr’s meads tend to be melomels (fruited meads), which are in this case semi-sweet. They are a nice counterpoint to his ciders, which tend to be on the drier side of the spectrum; the clientele who visit Raging have a varied choice across the board, and Carr has recently noted a shift in the perception of meads. “Sales of mead have really taken off in the last six months. I have customers now asking, ‘why can’t you put more meads on tap?’” Some of his clientele visit solely for the mead, the making of which Carr admits was more or less an afterthought: “It was something to do after harvest, because we are primarily a cider company and work mainly around the harvest.”
Dave and Kerry have made a commitment to source their fruit and honey only from within San Diego County. They are doing this, as they state on their website, “in order to support the local farming community and to try and regrow the rich apple & pear orcharding traditions of the local San Diego mountains (in particular the Julian region).” Carr notes that “I don’t go buy single varietal honeys. I use all multifloral honeys for the most part, usually dealing with just the local beekeepers; the honey is a story of the place it came from.” He adds that “it depends on the season… from the same hives, at one time of the year, there is a lot of orange blossom and eucalyptus in it, and at other times of the year there’s just wildflower; it varies wildly.”
Being a cider maker first, Carr tends to approach his mead making more from that point of view. “If it is a wildflower honey, I tend to target that more for using in my melomels. I tend to celebrate the fruit a little more with my melomels, more than celebrating the honey and what’s within it, but the honey does shine through!”
As of now, their mead is only available on tap at the San Marcos location, but that might change in the not too distant future. As Carr notes, “we’re getting such a demand for mead I am having to ramp up my mead production.” Local mead lovers can only hope that occurs sooner rather than later.
Twisted Horn Mead and Cider: Vista (Est. 2016)
Vince Obarski first encountered the word “mead” in his youth playing Dungeons and Dragons. He had no idea what it was, only that it cost two gold pieces to buy. Cut to a little later in his life, circa late ‘80s/early ‘90s, Obarski, then in the Navy but working in the Fleet Marine Forces, found himself deployed in Norway and “discovered mead for real.” He notes that the mead was “unlike anything I have ever had… it left an indelible mark.”
After he returned to the U.S., while stationed at Camp Pendleton, he tried to make some mead himself. “I gave it a couple of tries, but it was a dismal failure… I didn’t understand real sanitation,” he says with a note of “if only” in his voice. Eventually, Obarski left the service and became a dental hygienist. One of his patients turned out to be a guy named Mike McCague, who was a member of Barley Literates, a North County home brew club. Obarski soon joined the club, and made mead making his primary focus, noting that “the intelligent and also positive feedback” from Barley Literate members helped Obarski refine his process and recipes.
At a certain point, Obarski approached McCague to say that he and his wife Robin “had these epiphanies… like we’re done with what we’re doing [career wise]” and that they wanted to do something for themselves. Obarski explained to McCague that he was thinking of opening a meadery and cidery, and wondered if McCague knew anyone in the brewing business who would be willing to consult with him. Unbeknownst to Obarski at that time was that McCague had also toyed with the idea of opening a brewery for some time, but it had never panned out.
After nearly two years of hard work, Twisted Horn Mead and Cider opened up in December 2016 in a business park in Vista. McCague was on board as the cider maker (though he also kept his day job), and his wife Lisa joined to help run the tap room and run events, and Obarski’s wife Robin moonlights as office manager and running the company’s admin.
Obarski makes all the mead, and has a very specific approach. Although the meadery/cidery has a Viking theme, the meads are very different to those that Odin might have sipped. Obarski notes that his meads are “usually traditionally lower in alcohol than most others you’ll find out there. Between 8 and 10% [ABV] is my comfort zone if you will. I prefer more of an off-dry style (it’s a rarity that I’ll ever go bone-dry, or do something that’s heavier), I still want a little sweetness, still want to get the honey [taste] out of it, but without putting people on the floor.”
Obarski primarily utilizes beer and ale yeasts (versus wine yeasts) to ferment out. “It may be a little slower during the fermentation; I purposely try to drop my fermentation speed down to get rid of any off-characteristics and any off-flavors, but it becomes more presentable a lot faster… a nice lighter, fresher way of doing it,” he says. The meads at Twisted Horn are force-carbonated, so in addition to the off-dry flavors there is also a delicate effervescence that adds to the complexity.
Obarski’s meads are being very well received. In the 2019 edition of San Diego International Beer Festival, Obarski entered six meads into competition and medaled with four of them, which is an incredible entry-to-win ratio.
The best place to taste Obarski’s mead in both draft and specialty barrel-aged bottle form is at Twisted Horn, though more draft accounts and specialty bottle shops should be stocked by the time you read this — no horns required!
Lost Cause Meadery: Miramar, Bay Park (Est. 2017)
“Billy Beltz is a mead savant,” Harold Gulbransen tells me. Gulbransen knows a thing or two, because he’s made, tasted, and judged many a mead over the past 30 or so years. Billy is the co-founder of Lost Cause Meadery, along with his wife Suzanna. They opened the business in November 2017 in the Miralani Makers District, sharing a space with Serpentine Cider.
Billy is the mead maker, and he and Suzanna collaborate on all other aspects of running the meadery. They have had great success in the relatively short time Lost Cause has been open, winning acclaim from both tasting room visitors and, perhaps more notably, other mead makers. They have also won a slew of awards to add to the many that Beltz won as a home mead maker. The overall success of Lost Cause has led to the Beltz’s expansion to a second location, next to Deft Brewing in Bay Park. The planned grand opening is on March 28, 2020.
Billy was born and raised in the Santa Cruz mountains and got his undergrad degree at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He moved to San Diego to attend SDSU to earn his MBA. Billy discovered mead during his time as a home brewer, making extract brews “just for fun.”
“I had [tried] some commercial mead and was intrigued, and then just started making them on my own,” Beltz says. “Once I started making my first meads, I just kind of fell in love with everything about it… it just became so much fun to experiment with things I’ve never seen or heard anyone else do. You know, there’s so much to explore with mead,” he states with both excitement and the satisfaction of a man who has clearly found his calling.
As Beltz soon found out, there was not a huge amount of detailed information on mead making. He notes that, “it’s tough… there are no peer reviewed studies out there, there is no history of literature showing the best practices, and it [fermentation] can be different from yeast to yeast.” So, as a home mead maker, Beltz started experimenting on his own and took the deep dive. Ultimately, the results of his work were published in both Zymurgy Magazine and American Mead Maker, the official journal of the American Mead Maker Association.
In a nutshell, what he learned was “that it all comes down to keeping the yeast happy and healthy during fermentation.” Beltz adds that “mead has a lot of things going against it: you are usually starting at a high sugar content, which is stressful for the yeast, and then honey has little to no nutrients for the yeast (so no nitrogen). People knew you had to add nutrients, but they would add it all in the beginning, which is not the way you want to feed the yeast.” The knowledge that Beltz acquired was not only in regard to the type of nutrients added, but also the amount and when they are added, and how temperature control plays into that. “All these things really matter, and how you supplement the nutrients plays a huge role,” he says. From my conversations with a number of other local mead makers, Beltz’s discoveries, which he is more than willing to share, have helped them to make better meads too.
As a result of his numerous mead making experiments, Beltz is now creating some delicious meads in numerous styles to satisfy a curious, and growing, local public. “What we try and do, and what I think you’re going to see increasingly in the next five to seven years, are meaderies that offer the complete range: bone-dry, carbonated, big fruit bombs, desert-style meads, fortified meads… but I do think right now as a whole, on the West Coast you are going to find drier, more carbonated meads.” He continues, “I think when we were opening we assumed that most of the San Diego craft beverage customers would want something dry, sparkling — you know, as close to their craft beer as possible — and what we’ve discovered is that the real hardcore craft beer drinkers actually gravitate to the bigger, sweeter, crazier meads more than the lighter, more carbonated ones.”
At the time I chatted with Beltz, Lost Cause had just released a desert-style mead named Shadier Neighbors, made with caramelized honey (a natural occurrence in some beehives), toasted pecans, and coconut. They also make a very popular Lemoncello-style mead, and other more traditional fruited meads. In those melomels, “there’s like ten times the fruit you’d use in a fruited beer, so you have a huge fruit and honey profile, but it’s balanced with big acid, big tannins,” Beltz says. “Meaderies are now using five to 12 pounds of fruit per gallon. That has become the expectation. We use high quality whole fruits that haven’t been cooked and we don’t use purees, though we do use juice concentrates to dial in certain flavors.” He also adds that “we are trying to build our barrel program; oak and mead, it’s like a match made in heaven!”
Beltz is also into sourcing numerous styles of honey to add to the complexities of the Lost Cause meads. In addition to locally sourced wildflower, wild buckwheat, wild sage and alfalfa honeys, he has also sourced meadowfoam honey from the Pacific Northwest which, he says, “tastes basically like a marshmallow.” Lost Cause are also one of the few meaderies to use Brazilian pink pepper blossom honey, and at the time of our interview, Beltz was planning to acquire macadamia nut honey from Hawaii, and a mustard blossom honey from India.
Currently, one has to go to the meadery to try the fare from Lost Cause, as there is virtually no distribution of their meads. Says Beltz, “we have grown faster than I expected. The tasting room is a lot more popular, and we’ve seen a lot more customers, than we ever expected to. We thought we’d have to do some distribution by now and we really don’t… we are trying to keep up with the tasting room [volume].” Lost Cause? I don’t think so.
P.S.: For those locals reading this who have a deeper interest in mead, Lost Cause run a “Mead Geek Society.” Here is the info from their website:
“We are a mead appreciation club for people that enjoy drinking, talking about, sharing, making, and basically just geeking out over all things mead. Membership is free and open to anyone. Meetings are held roughly every other month on Monday evenings at Lost Cause Meadery. The Lost Cause Meadery tasting room is closed to the public during meetings so members can bring homemade mead or commercial mead they want to share.” Check out https://www.lostcausemead.com/mead-geek-society for more details.
Meadiocrity Mead: San Marcos (Est. 2019)
“Meadiocrity?” I ask Mark Oberle, my voice clearly tinged with a note of incredulity. Oberle, who is the public face of Meadiocrity Mead, chuckles when he hears this. Some years ago, while sitting around the table with his now meadery partners, tasting their mead and “just spitballing” and struggling with what to call their nascent mead company — “honey this or bee that” — Oberle eventually said, “this stuff is pretty good, why don’t we just call it Meadiocrity?” He continues, “everyone laughed and then decided that it was actually kind of catchy.”
Initially, they tried to avoid the name Meadiocrity, given that it was self-deprecating, but then decided that it was okay, because as Oberle says, “they are all self-deprecating guys.” He adds, “many customers try and convince us that we have bad branding, but they remember the name!”
The original guys in the partnership with Oberle (who is front of business, negotiates the deals, and handles sales and marketing) are John Botica, the head mead maker [and also their graphic designer], and Andrew Segina. Nate Fredricks, “[their] boots on the ground beekeeper,” is also a partner. Meadiocrity opened their meadery in San Marcos in October of last year, a contemporary and welcoming environment located at the opposite end of the business park that also houses Rip Current Brewing Co.
Oberle, Segina, and Botica all grew up in and around North County, and have known each other socially over years of living in the area. All come to the meadery from a variety of different work backgrounds. Oberle, who is currently the only partner “working full time” at the meadery, was previously a computer software engineer and systems architect in defense industry, though he has dabbled in some winemaking and is also a sommelier. Botica works in the tech world as a user experience designer, and Segina is a high school science teacher who also does some beekeeping on the side.
Botica, a long-time home brewer, started making beer with Segina, and later Oberle ended up hanging out with them. They started out making mead “casually, for fun,” says Oberle. Then at some point someone joked, “we should sell this!” This suggestion led to the group trying whatever commercial meads were available at the time, finding out that they were not that great, and that there was perhaps opportunity in the broader mead marketplace.
As Oberle notes, “we really thought that the [commercially available] meads in the market weren’t representing what mead could be.” A number were either too sweet with a lot of fruit added, or bone dry with high alcohol. “We wanted something that was easier drinking style, something you could drink more of, not a fireside sipping mead. We wanted something that could showcase the honey.”
They started out making numerous test batches, trying to get a recipe they liked with different varieties of honey and yeast, and varying levels of sweetness. This process took about a year, until they came up with a mead that they really liked. At that time, when only Golden Coast was open in the county, “we didn’t want to open up a tasting room right away,” says Oberle. “We didn’t want to go a couple of hundred K into debt without any real proven capability.” So, they decided to make mead on a contract basis with Golden Coast, bottling and kegging some product, which went to specialty bottle shops (such as Holiday Wine Cellar in Escondido, and Bine & Vine in Normal Heights) and various bars and restaurants.
That mead, Foundation, is still being made at the Meadiocrity meadery, and their website describes it as such: “Crafted with 100% raw San Diego alfalfa honey and spring water to yield flavors of crisp apple, bright citrus, and earthy honey notes. Slightly sparkling and semi-sweet, Foundation is the perfect food-friendly traditional mead.”
As Oberle says, “nothing short of a miracle, we ended up getting picked up by Trader Joe’s!” Initially, they were in one store, then three stores, then seven stores, and eventually all twenty-three stores in Southern California. For the first couple of batches, the mead was still being made under contract at Golden Coast, but as production required scaling up, they moved to a co-op in Escondido with the 298 Enterprise Group (and Vesper Vineyards specifically), which ended up with Meadiocrity getting licensed as an “02 winery” at the end of 2017.
Once Trader Joe’s picked up their mead, it had passed “the risk point… as in, ‘will people actually drink this?’” And so began phase two; Meadiocrity started to seek out their own space for a meadery and tasting room, and also the associated financing, all while working their day jobs. Eventually, the guys signed a lease for their current space in November of 2018, but then failed to meet the bank’s somewhat onerous lending requirements, and so the guys “did a Hail Mary to friends and family to raise capital,” which fortunately was successful.
Unlike most meaderies, Meadiocrity is somewhat vertically integrated, as the ownership group also owns more than one hundred beehives in Valley Center and Palomar Mountain (plus more in Ramona and Julian depending on the season) that they manage and collect honey from, a task overseen in the main by Nate Fredricks. Andrew Segina, who as mentioned earlier also does some of the beekeeping, is the liaison between the business side of things and the beekeeping operation. “Andrew came up with the concept and pulled the team together. We started out with a set of colonies and have continued to grow them, learning our lessons all along the way,” notes Oberle. “Honey is already the most expensive fermentable sugar out there, so why cover up all the hard work the bees have done and make just a raspberry wine or some fruited wine? Anything that we make, you can taste the honey, and any extra ingredient that we add we always want it to be a complement to the honey, where the honey is always the showcase.”
There are a number of different meads on tap at Meadiocrity, in addition to the aforementioned Foundation. According to Oberle, “we wanted to be able to make different styles of mead — something for everyone. We’ve got some meads that are high alcohol, dry and still, we have some that are semi-sweet and carbonated, we have some that have fruit, some that have spices, some that have flowers.”
In 2020, one particular focus will be smaller batch, “traditional” meads that are meant to highlight the unique honeys. “We’ve done that in the past for a few, but we really want to be able to put several side by side, made at the same time, made with the same yeast but made with different honeys, so that people can see not all honeys taste the same.”
During my visit I tried the Mead A Colada which is served on nitro. Now, normally I am not a Piña Colada fan, nor for that matter a fan of any drink that usually arrives festooned with a paper umbrella or wedge of fruit on the rim. However, in the name of science and exploration on your behalf, dear reader, I accepted the glass of what looked like a Hazy IPA, with a fluffy white, nitro-infused head, and took my first admittedly skeptical sip… and low and behold… a melange of pineapple, lime, and coconut flavors all beautifully balanced and in delicious harmony. Many things for sure, but mediocre NOT!
WORKS IN PROGRESS
Waiting in the wings to start a “brick and mortar” version of Mjødhall Meadery are husband and wife proprietors Eric and Anya Olson. They currently make mead at their house in Valley Center, and serve their mead at home brew festivals and other festivals, such as the annual Vista Viking festival. They also collaborate with other established enterprises such as North County’s Guadalupe Brewery, with whom they joined forces to make an award-winning braggot (a beer and mead hybrid) which was made to raise money for a local teen cancer patient.
Eric grew up making mead, helping his father and grandfather with beekeeping and mead making on his grandfather’s former rabbit farm in Vista. This mead making is a family tradition brought over by his grandfather from Lithuania where, according to Eric, “they have a very rich tradition of beekeeping and mead making.”
“Traditionals are my favorite by far,” says Eric, though he adds, “I often think that some of the other styles are easier… [but] if you really want to become a good meadmaker, you need to focus on making a clean traditional.”
Eric, who also works seasonally at a winery and does hive rescues on the side with Anya, is very humble about his mead making exploits. That said, he has a cheerleader in Anya who is quick to inform me that, “Eric has won over 60 medals on the homebrewing level.” Anya, who currently works in the corporate world, is also very much involved with Eric as the “guinea pig” in developing new recipes. Their next commercial mead steps that are in planning involve a potential “custom crush” at a Ramona winery, as they contemplate plans for a physical space of their own.
Brian LaMere, a security consultant for medical device manufacturers who sell their products to the military, and also a home mead maker, needed some help with technical writing and advertised for some assistance. The respondent who got the job was Marie Newman, who has a both a degree and background in marketing.
Newman, who by her own admission is “not a big consumer of alcoholic drinks,” at one point tried one of Brian’s “sherry honey wines” and developed an affection for this mead. She found it “extremely dynamic, not too sweet, and different to any alcohol I’d had before.” Suitably intrigued, it was not long before Newman was doing local mead market research for LaMere who had long expressed a desire to open a local meadery.
The result of their combined endeavors has been the co-founding of Good Omen Mead, a meadery and restaurant which will be located at 141 E. Grand Avenue in Escondido. The space in question, which happens to cover two levels and occupies approximately 13,600 square feet, is currently being refurbished in order to make their plans a reality.
In addition to a full-service restaurant, the goal for the associated meadery is “to produce three styles of mead: session meads (to match the current industry standard), honey wines (aged for more than six months), and reserve honey wines (fermented twice and aged for one year or more).”
Newman also adds that “the current goal is to open a members-only honey wine club while the property is still being renovated.” Those interested in the club can contact her at Marie@GoodOmenMead.com. To learn more, check out their website, Facebook, and Instagram (@goodomenmead).