In 1976, legislation was passed that legalized the production of homebrew and home wine making in all of the United States, except Alabama and Mississippi. Two years later, the first homebrew shop in Ed Schweiger’s home town of Louisville, Kentucky opened. He spent the rest of that summer brewing various batches of kit beers. This culminated 4 years later with Ed brewing the beer for his class graduation party from the University Of Kentucky, College Of Mechanical Engineering.
After graduation, Ed moved to Newport News, Virginia to start a career working on the reactor plants of nuclear powered submarines and aircraft carriers. At the same time he continued to pursue his interest in home brewing. It was there that he met with a fellow home brewing enthusiast (who also was an avid Beowulf and J.R.R. Tolkien fan) that suggested that Ed should endeavor to produce Mead. Neither one of them was sure what exactly mead was, nor how to make it, just that it was the beverage of choice in the Middle Ages and Middle Earth. After a little research, Ed finally decided to give the mead making a shot. It was a warm and stormy day in early July 1989, that Ed’s first batch of mead was made. It was a memorable day for two reasons. The first batch of mead and it was the day a tornado struck in Newport News. A rare event in this part of Virginia.
In 1995 Ed bought the Farm. Literally, not figuratively. In the spring of 2004 Ed and Jane finally built their house, a log cabin on the Farm and moved out there permanently. The following spring, a beech tree near the cabin died as a result of the house construction and needed to be cut down before it fell on the new house. Well, when the tree hit the ground the sky turned dark from all the bees that came out of the tree, intent on doing harm to whoever it was that had disturbed their home. He got the bee hive and suit and waited until the following January to cut the tree open. As it turned out the tree was empty of bees having been vacated the previous fall and all that remained was some empty comb. Since he had all the equipment, Ed decided to give beekeeping a try.
Ed has since grown the number of hives. And with his neighbor who joined him in the beekeeping activity, has made it into a part time business on the side. His wife even caught "the bug" using the by products from the hive, the bees wax, propolis and honey to make candles, soaps and salves. This also became a plentiful source of honey for making mead. Enough so that Ed increased the batch sizes tenfold due to the availability of honey. Eventually, the honey production increased sufficiently to accommodate the construction of 3600 square foot honey house, near the original silo to house the honey production, both extraction and bottling, soap and candle making
Several batches later with different honeys, yeasts, and increased size proved to Ed that not only was the process repeatable but also that making batches in the 100 gallon range would be the ideal size based on the Class A Winery licensing. As Ed started his research for starting a meadery, several friends became interested in joining in on the process. Some left, and one dear friend passed away, but all of their contributions have played a part in making this meadery a success.
JAJALA (JANE) SCHWEIGER