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Medovina: The Formative Years
An Introduction by Mark Beran

I suppose it all started as a childhood curiosity. Not a proud moment in beekeeping, but the adventure was to capture a docile bee or two in a jar and then the challenge – releasing them without getting stung. It worked some of the time.

The next chapter in beekeeping started three or four decades later, in 1993. Kellie, Medovina’s master mead taster, my partner in life and Miss Ragweed-Allergy extraodinaire read that eating raw, locally produced honey can alleviate the symptoms of pollen allergies. So we decided to visit Jerry Web, a local beekeeper and bee equipment supplier in Littleton, CO. We just wanted to see what beekeeping was all about. At the end of the day, we left Jerry with 2 beehives in the trunk of our Volvo. We figured we had learned enough about getting started from our 2-hour ear-bending visit with Jerry. I don’t quite remember what happened when we got home to Niwot, except to say that I do remember Kellie and I making tracks in opposite directions, both being pursued by a host of angry bees. So the next day we did what we should have done a week earlier – a trip to the public library to pick up books and videos on beekeeping.

Chapter three, a milestone, was written about 2 years later over a tennis match. My team member, Chris and I had been speaking about beekeeping when he asked if he could buy 3 or 4 quarts of honey to make mead. “Mead?” I asked. “Normally I enjoy brewing beer or making wine, but every now and again I like to make a batch of honey wine,“ said Chris. So I agreed to supply the honey and Chris agreed to allow me to look over his shoulder. Our batch of Chief Niwot’s Mead was a success and a few bottles still remain in our cellars (most of it is Chris’ and some day I’ll let him know). A couple of month’s later Kellie and I were having dinner with our good friends Volker and Ursula. We talked about mead and Volker mentioned that he had some old home brew equipment somewhere in his garage and batch two was born. Actually, between the time we agreed to undertake batch two and actually doing it, Volker, a world traveler, visited Scotland and brought back a bottle of mead from an offshore monastery accessible only on low tide. We enjoyed it as we embarked on our mead making project. It was truly incredible –sweet as can be, but it spoke to every taste bud on my palate. I was hooked.

Chapter 4 lasted for years on end and involved Kellie and I making a batch of mead every other month, keeping mostly good records, and experimenting like crazy. Needless to say, we ended up with lots of mead and little closet space in our modest home. Before long, the normal greeting we got when attending local parties and social events was, “Hey great to see you guys, thank you for coming…you did bring some mead, didn't you?” We never tested the concept of showing up to a party without a bottle of mead and so far our house has escaped most toilet paper wrappings and neighborly pranks. Neighbors Brad and Jane are usually good for something very corny on birthdays, but that’s another story. Well, now there is a mead following in old town Niwot and after some level of indulgence and off the wall neighborhood chats in the hot tub an idea is born – take the avocation to vocation plunge.

The mead and hot tub combination makes almost anything sound enticing so the next day I penciled out a business plan. The plan was very revealing, chock full of rock solid reasons not to go forward, so we did. After all, I had been dabbling in the stock market and every time I felt like buying it was time to sell and every time I felt like selling it was time to buy. Extrapolating this life’s experience, I figured going forward was a sure bet – damn the torpedoes! Medovina was born! Production started a year later and our first sale was for Chuck and Kim’s wedding in September 2003. And so, the ancient Egyptian custom of sending off the bride and groom for a full cycle of the moon with a jug of mead (for their honeymoon) is in tact. Thank you Chuck and Kim for loving each other, for enjoying our mead and giving Medovina an historically appropriate beginning.

To Be Continued...