Mead-making company Retro Meadery to start concocting at Rocky Point soon

Retro Meadery, operating community partnerships and a nostalgic brand, recently did well in a crowdfunding campaign and now plans to set up a production facility in their backyard. (Port City Daily / Courtesy of Mike Fields)

PENDER COUNTY – After a recent crowdfunding success, a mead brewing business with a retro theme and presence in Pender County is now looking to start a backyard operation as a next step.

Founded by a group of friends who successfully experimented with the Viking drink, Retro Meadery infuses fruit from local farmers into some of its recipes, which require weeks of fermentation. The age-old formula centers on honey, water and yeast, said Michael Fields, co-founder and resident of Rocky Point.

Along with co-founders Daryl Benitez and Matthew Clemmons, Fields showcased their product at tastings at local bottle shops and venues, like Panacea Brewing Company and Fox & Hound. As the name suggests, Retro Meadery opts for a nostalgic angle.

“You have your Bob Ross, who is our Bob Rass Berry,” Fields said. “You have your Pac-Man, which is our Pac-Gria, which is a version of a white sangria.”

Other flavors include the Viking Breakfast Club and the traditional sweet wildflower.

Mead, an important substance in mythology dating back thousands of years, has a range similar to wine, Fields said, with flavor spectra ranging from dry to very sweet.

“It just depends on the amount of honey or the amount of natural sugars added to the fermentation process,” he said.

On the crowdfunding platform Mainvest, where users can invest in local start-ups, Retro Meadery raised $ 45,300 in a campaign that recently ended. The immediate plan is to fashion a mead-making shed with five fermenters in the backyard of Fields, and the long-term vision is for a tasting room in downtown Burgaw and later a possible outpost. in downtown Wilmington.

The establishment of an alcohol production plant, even a cottage industry, involves many administrative formalities. As part of the federal licensing process, Retro Meadery must show that it has the necessary equipment and local government clearance. Fields applied for a special use permit in Pender County and convinced the Council of Commissioners to approve his application on October 18.

Detailing the process to county chefs, Fields said their traditional mead flavor takes about a month to age and their product’s average alcohol volume is around 13%.

The company also has an environmental initiative to use recycled glass for its bottles.

“It’s not something that someone is just going to come out and, I’ll just say it, get drunk on it,” Fields said, adding that they are marketing to customers looking for something “more than. natural side of an alcoholic drink. ”

Five-gallon buckets of blueberry or blackberry honey can cost as much as $ 500, Fields said.

“Another honey that we have played with, which is a rarer honey, is raspberry blossom honey,” he added. “It’s actually the bees, they go to the raspberry blossoms of the plant and bring back the nectar – which gives you a different flavor to this honey.”

After the licensing process, Retro Meadery may move production from the Raleigh apartment from its main mead maker to the new facility.

“We decided to take a step back, and that way we could start smaller and increase our profits, and then we can get a tasting room,” Fields said. “We plan to do this year one, two years, depending on how fast we are growing. With the interest that we already have from local restaurants, cafes and bottle shops, we anticipate fairly rapid growth. “

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