The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Opening a Meadery

A New Year brings New Year's Resolutions.  I'm not usually one for New Year's Resolution but I have a lot of goals and growth I want to accomplish this year.  That's sort of like New Year's Resolutions, right?

One of my goals is to have better communication on all of our Social Media platforms. I bet you didn't know that we are on Facebook (okay, you probably knew about that one), Instagram, Twitter, and we have a pretty bad ass Website (if I do say so myself).   I don't blame anyone but myself for you not knowing.  I am terrible about regular posting.  I WILL be better this year.   This post will, hopefully, be the first of many weekly posts about what is going on in the world of Odd Elixir MeadWorks!  And if you don't hear from us often enough, please feel free to call me out on it!

We celebrated our Grand Opening 5 months ago today.  In that time we have done things wrong, we have done things right, and we have just managed to do things (sleep not being one of them).  So as not to end on a negative note, I am going to work my way backwards through The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

The Ugly

Anyone that tells you brewing is glamorous probably has some swamp land or a bridge they are also trying to sell you.  A friend of mine that is opening a brewery jokes that she is leaving her steady job to become an underpaid janitor.  She's not all that wrong.  There are a lot of things to clean, and then clean, and then clean again. I'm not new to brewing.  I've been a homebrewer for years.  But the first time you have to crawl into a fermentor to clean some crevice you just can't reach you realise that joke about brewing being 90% cleaning and 10% brewing isn't, in fact, a joke.  In the last 5 months I have been made acutely aware just how inflexible I am. 

Honey is heavy!  It states clearly on the 5 gallon bucket of honey that is weighs 60lbs. For some reason that doesn't sink in until you have to unload and carry a dozen of said buckets in by hand because your meadery doesn't have a loading dock or a dollie ramp.  Then you are reminded again just how heavy 60lbs is when you have to lift that bucket up over your head to put in into a fermentor. If it wasn't for Blair doing the bulk of the heavy lifting there would be a lot more cleaning and a lot less mead!  In addition to being inflexible, I am also reminded that I am terribly out of shape.

Last on The Ugly list is paperwork.  My word there is a lot of paperwork!  I expected paperwork, and a lot of it but I was not prepared for the sheer volume of reports and approval requests and forms I would have to fill out. Monthly Operational Reports to the Federal and State Government, Quarterly Excise Tax Returns, Quarterly Sales Tax, Federal Formula Approval, Federal Label Approval, State Brand Registration, Inventory Audit, etc...And that's just the government side of it.  The distributor has their paperwork that has to be filed for each brand, chain stores like Total Wine and ABC have their paperwork that has to be filed, invoices have to be created.  It never seems to end!  So when you see me sitting at the corner of the bar, in front of my computer, eyes glazed over, with a cold cup of coffee sitting in front of me, there is a good chance you caught me on paperwork day!  Five months in, I feel like I am finally getting the hang of it.  Hopefully in another 5 months it will be second nature.

The Bad

TIME!  We need more of it!  The meadery is just getting off the ground so Blair and I are still running our other company and Blair bartends a couple nights a week.  So our calendars sometimes look like a dreadful paint-by-numbers accident (thank the universe for color coded calendars or I would never know who was supposed to be doing what).  One of my goals this year is to get the meadery to a stable position so I can hire someone full time to run all the promos for our other company.  Until then it is all up to us to make it work.  We are slowly working out a system that has me handling the administrative side of things (because anyone that knows Blair, knows he SUCKS at paperwork), Blair handling the Public Relations/Sales side of things, and us meeting in the middle to actually make mead!

The things I want for the new year are to be able to devote more time to our distributor, more time to our customers, and more time to advancing my knowledge so I can produce better and more consistent product.  We are getting there slowly but surely and hopefully everyone understands when I am not able to make it to their event.  Unfortunately, until they perfect cloning, I can only be in one place at a time. (Someone should tell that to my calendar.)

The Good

If I just left you with the two parts above you would think we had a terrible life.  In reality, we are doing what we love, creating a product that we are passionate about, and building our dream one empty (and significantly lighter) 5 gallon bucket at a time.

We work in an amazing industry that is in its infancy but growing at an astonishing rate.  We have amazing and talented friends that are gracious enough to share those talents with us (have you seen our killer artwork!). We have a distributor that embraces the craft movement and took a chance on a tiny start up making a product most people in this area have never heard of. and we have great customers that encouraged us to go from homebrewers to professional and are still supporting us today.

Every business has its "Bad" and "Ugly" but in the end it's the "Good" that counts.  And as long as the "Good" outweighs the rest I think we must be doing something right! 

Cheers and #bringonthemead

---Ann-Marie