Roswell has become regionally known for its craft beverage scene, made up of breweries, distilleries, beverage markets and the newest addition—a meadery! In this month’s Q&A, Roswell Inc’s Kimberly Allred chats with 5/4 Meadery owner Sean Walcek to discuss the growing industry of mead making, the story of 5/4 Meadery and why they chose Roswell.
Kimberly: Tell us the background of 5/4. What got you into making mead and what led you to open a commercial brand?
Sean: I’ve been making mead at home for the past 10 years. I had a friend offer me a large batch of honey, and I didn’t know what to do with it. As I started researching, I discovered that making mead was very similar to making beer which I was already making at home, so I gave mead a try and was very impressed with the results.
My dad and I ran a marketing and advertising firm for over 25 years, and I also do programming and coding on the side as well. I am a very creative type. I’ve dabbled in just about everything from building stringed instruments to motorcyles, so we just decided that we wanted to try something new and creative and were confident that we knew how to run a business, so we started pursuing a commercial space to open a meadery.
Kimberly: What made you decide that Roswell was the right location for your business venture?
Sean: After talking with Community and Economic Development Departments in several cities, we got connected with Roswell Inc. We were attracted to the vibrant downtown and the synergy in the craft beverage market in Roswell from the get go. Honestly, Roswell Inc made it a lot easier for us because they were so responsive. They listened to concerns throughout the process and helped us find answers. We needed an industrial spot and not a typical storefront, and we ended up finding this quaint spot off of Oak Street.
Kimberly: Talk to us about opening a business in the middle of a global pandemic.
Sean: Well, we took over the lease in January of 2020 with a projected open date in late spring. After COVID hit, we figured things would pick back up by summer, but when that didn’t happen month-after-month, we decided to go ahead and open our doors anyways on Black Friday. That time gave us a period to be able to develop product because mead takes about 3 months or more to make depending on the style.
Kimberly: Have you partnered with any of our local or regional businesses, especially in the craft beverage sector, on collaboration? Do you have any visions of partnerships?
Sean: We have a Georgia farm wine license which requires that 40 percent of our raw ingredients come from Georgia. Right now, we are sourcing 100 percent of our ingredients from the state and using some of our own honey from our hives in Hickory Flat. We have also started developing a coffee mead through a collaboration with a local coffee roaster. We believe that our most valuable market is the immediate local market, so we’d love to pursue partnerships with the breweries in the area and eventually get our taps into local restaurants.
Kimberly: What would you tell people who may have preconceived notions about mead or may know nothing about mead!
Sean: There has been quite a renaissance in mead over the last 10-15 years. The US had about 50 meaderies at that time and now are up to over 500 nationwide. Similar to beer, and there are lots of different things you can do with the flavors and profiles of mead. Most people think about mead and immediately think of the sweet stuff they’ve had from festivals and farmer’s markets, but that’s just one style of mead, and not the type of mead we are making. Our mead is drier and more experimental. We really want to change the perception of what’s possible with mead in the market. Most people are pleasantly surprised after they try our mead because it’s nothing like what they expect.