Slowly but surely, San Diego’s mead industry is growing. The latest example: Meadiocrity Mead, a brand that, now a little over three years since contract brewing its first mead, has finally opened its own meadery and tasting room in San Marcos.
1365 Grand Avenue, San Marcos
For most of its three years running, the small startup more than made do producing 20-barrel batches as part of an Escondido winemaking co-op. Though unable to serve the public directly, it placed bottles of mead in Trader Joe’s grocery stores, and its founders appeared on nationally televised brewing contest Beerland, ultimately winning the season-long beer competition by making a braggot, a beer and mead hybrid.
Significantly, the winning braggot used honey culled from Meadiocrity’s hives, and several of the meads it serves show off honeys from roughly a hundred beehives the mead company keeps in east-of-the-15 San Diego County, and those of other regional honey producers.
Fittingly, the new taproom adopts a honeycomb theme: honeycombs are inlaid within the wood bar top, hexagonal wood patterns hang from the ceiling. Meanwhile, a beekeeper suit hanging in one corner of the space provides visual reminder of the length these guys have gone to understand honey production more directly and how it changes according to a hive’s access to flowers – from alfalfa blossoms to wildflowers.
Having its own production space will allow Meadiocrity to explore the ways their honeys yield differing flavors from season to season. “You can have a hive on a hill,” says Meadiocrity co-founder Andrew Segina, “and if you harvest in March, you’re going to have a different flavor honey than if you harvest in June.”
With the launch of the new production and serving space, Segina and co-founders Mark Oberle and John Botica are transitioning out of careers in education, defense, and design. While Segina and Botica bring a beer homebrewing background to the partnership, Oberle has a background making wine, and many of Meadicrity’s meads take on more refined, white wine characteristics than casual mead drinkers might expect.
“I like to say we have the elegance and finesse of winemaking,” says Oberle, “but the creativity and a little outlandishness from the craft beer world.”
Meadiocrity’s flagship mead, Foundation, remains a reliable first taste for new mead drinkers. The semi-sweet, lightly carbonated mead, made with alfalfa blossom honey, finishes at 12.5-percent alcohol by volume, offering a sense of the traditional mead experience.
Whether still or sparkling most of the meads here remain traditional. However, as they pursued mead making full time, the partners added a couple of five-barrel brewing vessels to their repertoire, so they may now experiment with smaller batches. Early results have included a mead flavored with red jasmine petals, and the so-called Meadacolada, which features, lime, coconut, pineapple, and milk sugar, poured out of a nitro tap. Next up with be a dry strawberry mead that, despite possessing almost zero residual sugars, may trick the brain into perceiving sweetness due to the familiar aromas of strawberry and honey.