The faint aroma of honey is in the air inside the newly built workroom that houses Bee Boyzz Meadery.
The fledgling craft meadery operation is a labour of love for owners Kon and Julia Paseschnikoff, who also operate Bee Boyzz Honey from their property at 4742 McGillivray Blvd. in Oak Bluff. They have about 175 hives in Sanford, Oak Bluff, Winnipeg and the Assiniboine and Pembina Valleys.
Mead is a fermented alcoholic drink with a history going back centuries. Any ancient people who harvested honey were likely to use some to make mead. Julia said the main ingredients are honey, water and yeast with fruits or spices added for flavouring. The trick is to identify when to stop the fermentation process.
Kon and Julia have full-time jobs as well as being regular vendors at the St. Norbert and Downtown BIZ Farmers Markets, so their commitment to getting their meadery off the ground has consumed what little spare time they had for the past two years.
Julia said as part of their initial research, they contacted meadery owners in the U.S. and B.C. for advice. A couple who operate a meadery in Langley, B.C. offered to mentor the Paseschnikoffs as they went from producing test batches to larger production.
They also took a four-day course in California earlier this year that Julia said was extremely useful. “They taught us how to taste mead.”
Kon said there’s a process to sampling mead: study the colour of the mead in your glass; smell it; take a sip; swish it around in your mouth; then swallow.
The couple took samples of the honey they produce with them and the others taking the course were surprised by the pale creamy colour of honey coming from bees gathering nectar from canola and alfalfa blossoms.
“People were amazed at the white honey we have on the Prairies,” Kon said, adding that many other meaderies use a darker honey that gives the fermented product a stronger taste.
The Paseschnikoffs have experimented with adding saskatoons, strawberries and rhubarb and pears to the mead, as well as spices such as vanilla, star anise, nutmeg and cinnamon to make spiced mead called metheglin. Julia said they discovered that the fruit must be added at the beginning of the fermentation process, as the mead can’t be flavoured later as is done with the flavoured honey they sell.
The shining metal tanks and other equipment used to brew the mead, as well as the brightly lit new workroom, are an investment in the couple’s new business. Julia said they also spent months completing all the application forms to allow them to get the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba’s approval to market their mead and have it stocked in Manitoba liquor stores.
“Now we know how to do that and we can probably help the next person,” she said.
The Paseschnikoffs recently began offering samples and selling bottles of their Harvest Sunset mead at the St. Norbert and Downtown BIZ Farmers Markets. They will also be promoting their made-in-Manitoba product at St. Vital Centre’s Behind Closed Doors event on Sat., Nov. 16 from 7 to 10:30 p.m.
They have come up with a festive spiced blend that they hope will appeal to shoppers in the upcoming holiday season.
Kon said they are selecting product names that reflect the local nature of all of the ingredients as well as their own love for their rural roots.
“We’re both born and raised on the Prairies and we want our wine to show that,” he said.
Looking into the future, Julia said they hope to create a home-based business that will give visitors the chance to sample various flavours of mead and honey that they produce. Being located a few kilometres outside the City of Winnipeg makes the Paseschnikoffs’ property easily accessible and has the potential to become a tourist destination.
Kon agrees but adds that a lot depends on how the next few months go.
“Christmas will dictate how we’re going to do with this. It’s a long road,” he said.
For more information on Bee Boyzz Honey, see http://beeboyzzhoney.com or on Facebook
Community journalist — The Headliner
Andrea Geary is the community journalist for The Headliner.
Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Call her at 204-697-7124