Gordon spends a little more time on the business than Terry because it is located in his basement. He estimates it takes about 20-30 hours a week. Gordon is also the details guy who makes sure the company follows government regulations. The Louisville Mead Company had to submit its recipes to the federal government and then have its facility inspected by the state before it could sell products to the public.
Terry brings a child-like sense of fun to the operation. He likes experimenting with different recipes, some more successful than others. One failure that he’s reluctant to talk about is his bacon mead. He claims he used just a little too much bacon, but even then a few people liked it. Tina has a pained looked on her face as she reminds him that her house smelled like bacon for days after his experiment. However, she still believes Terry is the ideal business partner for her husband.
“Terry kind of dabbles in everything,” Tina says. “Gordon is more regimented. He will make sure the process is done in exact timing sequence. That is definitely not Terry’s strong point. Terry brings to the table a lot of stuff that Gordon can’t do. Basically, he came over here in a weekend and created that mead room. He could throw up a house if he wanted to. He’s also good at the marketing and the social aspect of the business.”
It was Gordon who contacted the River City Distributing Company about carrying Louisville Mead’s products. Russell Glass, River City’s wine and spirits director, says his company was aware of Louisville Mead because some of his salespeople had seen the products at the farmers’ market. In fact, Glass was already considering them for River City’s spirit line when Gordon contacted the company.
“Mead is a product that some of our beer salespeople understand,” Glass says. “It is a stepping off point between beer and wine. The fact that Louisville Mead is local was a plus. Also, a lot of our beer people are also home brewers. They were sort of rooting for the Louisville Mead guys because of how hard it is to make that jump from home brewing to distribution. It is a quality product and it has been received quite well by our customers.”
River City started distributing Louisville Mead in May. Glass did not have an exact count of the retail outlets carrying Louisville Mead products. But he did say it is doing well in Liquor Barn and Kroger, and several independent stores have recently picked it up as well. Louisville Mead has huge growth potential because River City has customers all over the state.
Gordon and Terry have big plans for their company. They are partnering with a local coffee house to add a coffee mead. They also have a carbonated version of their mead that they sell at renaissance fairs. Louisville Mead’s longterm goals include purchasing new stainless steel fermenters as well as moving the meadery out of Gordon’s basement in order to increase production.
Louisville Mead’s owners still spend four hours each Saturday trying to attract mead converts at the Douglass Loop Farmers’ Market, where samples can be had for 50 cents a cup. The partners are converting people into mead drinkers one taste at a time. “Mead is not really a beer, and not a wine,” Gordon says. “It sits in its own chair and it’s always looking for a companion.”