Houston - We Have Landed!

The Houston Market has long been asking for our award winning meads and after a few months of self-distribution to test the market, we realized the potential was huge and we needed help to get into all of the best venues across the city. So we started our search for a distribution partner that shared our values and our commitment to bringing our products to Houston's craft scene.

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We are proud to announce our partnership with Favorite Brands. Together we are working hard to introduce our meads into the greater Houston area.

You can already find us at your favorite local grocers and liquor stores like HEB, Total Wine and Craft Beer Cellar; as well as some great bars and restaurants like BJ's, Old Chicago, The Hobbit Cafe and Ship and Shield.

We continue to expand our presence across the city and encourage you to participate in our growth. How, you might ask?

1. Go to our Mead Finder and look for a retailer or bar near you.

2. If you know of a great fit for our product and it's not on the list, let us know and we'll work with Favorite Brands to get in as soon as possible.

We look forward to becoming Houston's go to craft beverage. We appreciate all of our customer's support and patience as we continue to grow our presence. If you've yet to try our mead, what are you waiting for? 

Join us in the Craft Mead Revolution!

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Cayce Rivers is the head of Finance, Sales and Marketing for Meridian Hive. While not technically qualified to handle any of those areas, his 20 plus years in the corporate world provides a wealth of ammunition to allow him to fake his way through most of it. He brings a balance of extraordinary vision, sharp focus and practicality to help the team reach seemingly unachievable goals.

A day in the life of....

So you want to be a Sales Rep in the alcoholic beverage industry?

This Monday I got up at 5:45AM to grab a big cup of coffee to help me get through our weekly sales meeting that starts at 6AM. We finally finished just over an hour later and then I started prepping for my day - It was travel day!

I was heading up to DFW for a few days to check in with our customers and distributor. I mapped out my route for my account & lead visits and created a call list for my Austin customers. I had to touch base with them while in the car, because I couldn't visit them this week. I packed my suitcase and all product samples I needed for the week. Then I threw an ample supply of stickers, coasters & koozies in the bag to hand out at my glass nights and a festival on the week's agenda.

The plan was to get on the road around 9:30AM so rush hour traffic should have dissolved by then. I knew I probably wouldn't check into the hotel until around 9:30PM at night! A long day for sure, but I'd done it many times in the past.

The drive only took around two and a half hours before I stopped at the first retail account in Arlington. From there I traversed the city, visiting other bars, growler bars and more retail accounts (as well as some prospective new customers). The last stop before heading to the hotel was reserved for my glass night at a bar. I planned extra time for dinner and a drink (or two)!

Of course the day never goes as planned. The second bar manager was not in - That's ok, I left my card, our product info sheet and planned to call or email later. And I don't recall if it was normal traffic or some closed road due to construction, but I got delayed on the way to my next stop. I also chatted longer with the manager there, causing my schedule to slip even more. Then I had to wait because there was a line of other reps at the bottle shop. If I just had some time to stop into the bar I just past that looks like a great potential customer...maybe tomorrow.

While on the road, I got a call from our Delivery Team about issues with receiving at a major customer that I needed to help with. And our South Austin Rep called to confirm we finally got set up as a new vendor at a new big account so he can start selling them our mead. Then I realized I had missed my turnoff...where was I?

I really want to know how people could do this jobs years ago and be anything close to efficient. Thank goodness for GPS.

At 5PM... stuck in traffic again...didn't make it to this last Whole Foods because I know the buyer left at 5, dang it. And I couldn't go in to sample the bar manager at the restaurant either because the dinner rush was about to start... hmmm... good thing there was a bar close by. I stopped in there to get some administrative work done before heading to the bar for my glass night starting at 7pm. That should keep the boss happy and off my back!

So, why do I go through all off this?

Because I love craft mead/beer/cider and I love to help spread the word to a new audience and hopefully win a few over from the dark side. 

There are a few bad days where I get up on the wrong side of the bed, but I still put on my best face for our existing and soon to be customers.  Some days I drive home with zero sales for the day wondering if I've lost my touch and what my boss will think. It's a good thing the majority of the time I'm getting new orders and new accounts and having a lot of fun.

I do this because, even though I complain sometimes and it can be exhausting, I really do love doing this. I love meeting new people, making new friends, seeing the pleasantly surprised faces of my new customers and hearing them say -
Mead. Who Knew?

Support your local mead rep.

Drunken Pecan Pie

Our “in-house chef”, Robert already posted his recipe for a main course, Oven Braised Brisket. If you really want to show off your mead infused recipes, try this Pecan Pie for an indulgent dessert?

At Christmas time last year I wanted to make something special as I had family visiting from overseas. I really wanted something typically American, and Southern to be more precise; so I couldn't think of a better choice than Pecan Pie! For the “special” part of the recipe, I decided on Bounty, Meridian Hive's bourbon barrel-aged Apple Mead. The idea of the Drunken Pecan Pie was born.

I chose Bounty to add to the warmth and richness of the pecan pie. The honey and apple character bring a new flavor dimension to this age old classic.

For the Crust:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup ground pecans
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold butter
8 tablespoons Bounty

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, pecans, sugar, and salt. Mix well. Add the butter and mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add Bounty and let it sit for 1 minute. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out on the floured surface into a circle about 12 inches in diameter and 1/8-inch thick. Gently fold the circle of dough in half and then in half again so that you can lift it without tearing it, and unfold into a 9 by 2-inch deep-dish pie pan.
 

For the Filling

1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup dark corn syrup or ¼ dark corn syrup and ½ cup honey
3 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 to 2 cups pecan halves
2 tablespoons chilled Bounty

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar and melted butter. Add the corn syrup, eggs, pecans, and Bounty, and stir until all ingredients are combined. Pour mixture into an unbaked pie shell, and place on a heavy-duty cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and continue to bake for an additional 25 minutes, or until pie is set.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Serve a slice to each guest, pile on your favorite vanilla bean ice cream and don't forget to pair it with a generous pour of Bounty. Enjoy!

 

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Angi Wilkes is Meridian Hive’s Brand Manager and key woman in the field, meaning she mostly drives around listening to music in a car full of mead . You might be thinking “Hey, that sounds like a pretty cool job, how can I get that job?” The answer is that you can’t because we just told you that’s Angi’s job. We actually don’t see her as often as we'd like, but we really like it when we do. She can hang with the best knurds on all beer, wine and mead topics; and she's clever, funny and pretty awesome (even if she's not from around here).

The Mazer Cup that almost wasn't

As the Mazer Cup weekend approached, the team arrived in Denver a couple of days early to prepare for meetings with potential distributors, visit and sample products to potential customers, do some sight seeing and visit with old friends. All of those things were going according plan until, out of the blue, we got a call from the Mazer Cup staff at 3:15 PM on Thursday (the day before the judging started) - our entries had not arrived at the competition venue.

A few of us happened to be in the area where the product was supposed to be shipped in Denver. We raced over to Elite Brands (the Mazer Cup receiving company) to pick up the entries and hand deliver them to the Mazer Cup staff. When we arrived, we were greeted by Miles, who told us that our boxes were nowhere to be found. Panic set in. We immediately shifted into Magnum P.I. mode.

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Our first clue was a shipping document from Eric that showed delivery 4 weeks earlier to Elite Brand's address and signed by Raymundo. Miles assured us that no one named Raymundo worked at Elite and panic levels jumped a few notches higher. Miles joined in to continue our investigation by calling the shipping company to attempt to get to the bottom of the misplaced delivery. This yielded no results.

Continuing our investigation, Mike decided to walk the industrial row of businesses next to Elite Brands (a long shot at best, but what else could we do?). Low and behold, the business next door did indeed have an employee named Raymundo, but he was certain that no deliveries had been made that didn't belong to them. After some coaxing, they let us roam around their warehouse of drywall and building supplies. We were just about to give up, when I saw a pile of boxes near the entrance. I led the warehouseman to the boxes and started to explain that the missing boxes were very similar to the size of the boxes in the pile. When I started to uncover the boxes in question, I saw our labels "Samples Only. Not for Resale" taped on the top of the boxes.

Angels sang from above and my heart jumped, we had found our missing entries, and just in the nick of time. A huge thanks goes to Miles at Elite Brands for taking his time to help out out, searching his warehouse, calling the shipping company and even coming over to the neighboring warehouse to join the search. What a great guy. A final thanks to Wayne from the Mazer Cup team for picking up the entries and getting them back to the venue on time.

Lesson Learned: Double check with the receiver to ensure your entries made it, even if Raymundo signs for them!

So was it worth it? All the time spent, the panic and being late for an engagement with friends? Find out in an upcoming future post.

 

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Cayce Rivers is the head of Finance, Sales and Marketing for Meridian Hive. While not technically qualified to handle any of those areas, his 20 plus years in the corporate world provides a wealth of ammunition to allow him to fake his way through most of it. He brings a balance of extraordinary vision, sharp focus and practicality to help the team reach seemingly unachievable goals.

How we made our Discovery

Discovery was a culmination of a lot of different perspectives...

I was fairly proficient at beer making before a fellow home brewer, Mark Schoppe introduced me to mead. My first reaction was “Wow, this is quite different, and very tasty.” This piqued my interest for sure, and over the course of the next couple of years I increased my knowledge of mead and gained exposure to a variety of styles by judging several home-brew competitions.  

The majority of mead in this initial experience was of Still style (uncarbonated), higher alcohol (>13%), and tended to be on the sweet side, somewhat similar to Port wine. I’m a Texas native and I enjoy the fact that the weather is hot for almost 1/2 of the year.  However, at the time I didn’t know a huge number of casual Port drinkers, so I didn’t really think much of it as an everyday drink in the hot weather here in Austin.

As I began to get more serious and educated about creating wine and mead, I noticed and appreciated the technique differences between making agricultural wine and beer. I was also surprised that (according to the style guidelines for judging) there wasn’t much thought given to mead with less than 10% ABV.  So I started making some lower alcohol batches to find out for myself why it wasn’t a popular craft. 

My first few batches didn’t taste or smell like much at all. But my brewing experience had taught me the effects of adding carbonation to an initially flat beer. I decided to try it with the mead and I really like the results. After a few iterations, I felt like I had gotten a highly drinkable mead, but I still wasn’t sure who I was really making it for.

Around the same time, hard apple cider was starting to crop up in a few cutting edge beer bars. (Quick aside, Central Texas isn’t exactly the best climate for growing apples, so we are well behind some of the northern states in our appreciation for apple cider). I decided to position my newly created, super refreshing, low alcohol, gluten-free and carbonated mead as an alternative at the craft beer bars. It was now time to make a move, so I partnered up with Eric and we formed Meridian Hive.

We came up with a plan to start several pilot batches with a goal of finding the right combination of honey varietal and yeast. Additionally, we started experimenting with a few different techniques to reduce the time to make the mead. I’m not sure if I should mention, but not all of the experiments were successful. The biggest challenge was wrangling the yeast. We were prodding them to do their job at the fastest possible pace while trying not to make them angry. Without going into too much technical detail, when yeast get angry, they don’t exactly put out the best flavors for the mead. We eventually came up with a great combination and a workable technique to create a batch in around 20 days.

The final challenges revolved around ramping up from a small pilot to a large-scale production batch, It should be noted that I was personally terrified when we first pumped $5000 worth of honey into a tank for the first time – what could possibly go wrong? We learned a lot along the way, but I’ll save those details for a future post.

I really wanted a name to reflect what I was trying to do…to give the public a chance to love mead. This was a new craft, very approachable and very drinkable. I thought it would be a great way to make your discovery into the world of mead. With solid aromatics, flavor that strongly suggests orange blossom flowers, off dry sweetness and a crisp finish…I hope you love it as much as I do.

 

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Mike Simmons is the head mead maker and face of Meridian Hive. His passion for crafting alcohol spans across mead, beer and wine. He holds a National ranking in the Beer Judging Certification Program (BJCP) and has performed judging duties across the US over the last decade. Mike brings an unparalleled blend of technical skills (from his engineering background) and artistic instincts (past life as a musician and designer) to every endeavor he tackles. He'll discuss a breadth of topics at a depth you didn't even know you wanted to hear about... just ask him.

Packing entries today - Mazer Cup 2017

Today we are very excited to be shipping our entries to Mazer Cup 2017. Mazer Cup held March 9 -11 in Broomfield, Colorado, is in its ninth year and is by far the largest mead competition in the world. The competition continues to grow with 2017 showcasing 400 entries from commercial meaderies like ours, and 450 entries from home mead makers across the world.

This is our fourth year to enter as a commercial meadery; and every year we see increased quality at the competition. We have been fortunate to improve our medal count year over year. In 2016 we tied with three other meaderies for top honors, bringing home 5 medals.

We have worked hard over the last year to create a variety of meads that we are proud of and excited to present. We are entering 12 meads in eight different categories. It is always a bit nerve racking while waiting to see how the judges receive them. Wish us luck this year; we know the competition will be tough.

The Mazer Cup is still looking for judges and volunteers; if you are interested in joining us in March, sign up at http://mazercup.org/volunteer-signup/

 

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Eric Lowe is Meridian Hive's Operations Director. His software engineering background has prepared him to not only master all the regulations associated with operating a meadery in Texas; but also handle the logistics, batch planning, forecasting, and manufacturing planning processes. Eric brings attention to detail to his artisanal crafts of mead, wine, and home brewing. He holds a National ranking in the Beer Judging Certification Program (BJCP) and is the competition organizer for the Texas Mead Cup, one of the largest mead competitions in the US.