Call San Diego the land of beer and honey, because the guys behind a local mead startup have won a nationally televised beer contest.
Andrew Segina, John Botica, and Mark Oberle co-founded Meadiocrity Meadery in 2016, making occasional small batches in an Escondido winery co-op. But when they appeared on a June 5th episode for the Viceland cable channel show Beerland, they did so as homebrewers of beer.
Somewhat of a traveling homebrew competition, Beerland visits a different city each episode, giving host Meg Gill a chance to meet and drink with teams of local homebrewers. She assesses their brews and advances her favorite to compete in a season finale.
Segina, Botica, and Oberle earned a victory during the San Diego episode with their brew, The Brothers’ Brood, which is actually a braggot: a beer brewed with at least 50 percent honey. Making the drink more unusual is that its base beer was a milk porter recipe, made with lactose (the sugar found in milk).
However, the distinction that helped Brothers’ Brood beat out four competing beers in the finale was that honey. Meadiocrity operates its own apiary in Valley Center, and the homebrewers supplied their own honey to the beer, lending its unique terroir.
“The winning characteristic of the beer was the terrific self-made honey,” said TV host Gill. “While terroir is a characteristic found often in wine, I had never tasted a beer that truly tasted of the land from which it was made.”
Gill is best known as a co-founder of Los Angeles beer company, Golden Road Brewing, where the finale was filmed. In the episode (which aired June 26th), she cast the deciding vote after discussing the beers with a judges panel that included Nate Soroko, a bartender at Modern Times Beer and North Park taproom Toronado. Soroko previously appeared on Beerland's San Diego episode to share insights into San Diego craft beer culture.
Thanks to its win, 100 barrels of The Brothers’ Brood milk porter braggot has been produced by Golden Road (a subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch), and will be distributed in 19.2 ounce cans to select retailers in Southern California.
While the Meadiocrity brand didn’t feature much on the show, Mark Oberle hopes the win will shine some light on a burgeoning craft mead movement. “We were going on with a desire to help promote honey and local honey production,” Oberle says, “to get some air time for mead.” The rare distribution of a braggot in cans may be a good start. “People are always looking for the new thing,” he says, “and braggots are certainly new to most people!”
He adds that Meadiocrity is looking to produce braggot collaborations with local breweries later this year, as it finalizes plans to open its own mead brewing facility somewhere in North County.
Meanwhile, Meadiocrity has timed its latest bottle release to coincide with the team’s win; a carbonated session mead flavored with vanilla and oak.