Wassail, an old English toast to good health and good times, reflects the character of Rohan Meadery.
“Our business is built on a hobby that got out of hand,” John Rohan, owner, said laughing. “We wanted to share our passion with other people.”
The couple enjoyed exploring the nuances of different mead makers around the country.
“The timing just seemed to be right,” Wendy said. “Mead, the oldest fermented beverage known to man, just seemed to be a natural fit with the slow food movement.”
They discovered they preferred the Czech-German style of mead, which is fermented in a manner similar to wine, drier than most styles and is relatively unique in the marketplace—and it just happens to reflect the heritage of the Roundtopolis™.
“We make 14 styles of mead, and have eight available at any given time depending on the season and fruit availability,” John said. “Seasonal availability is also a marketing advantage because people have a reason to come back to get their favorites.”
The farm-based meadery’s rural Fayette location turned out to be ideal.
“It’s in the middle of nowhere—and the middle of everywhere,” John said, noting that families or friends who live in Austin and Houston often split the difference by meeting at Blissful Folly Farm.
The adults while away afternoons at picnic tables under the covered pavilion while the kids run and play on the farm. The lucky ones get to help gather eggs or do some other farm chore. “I looked at our Instagram account, and all of the pictures are of the sheep, the sheep dogs, the guineas or the chickens,” John said. “There’s not a glass of wine to be found, unless it just happens to be behind a chicken.”
While the Rohans are dedicated to producing top-quality fermented beverages, they are equally committed to creating a memorable, family-friendly atmosphere that allows people to experience the beauty of nature and get a taste of life on a small farm.
“We’re a farm winery, so we’re never going to be pretentious,” Wendy said. “We spend our money on equipment and ingredients not on crystal goblets and polished brass. We may have weedy grass, but we’re busy making the best mead possible.”
The Buzz on Honey
Honey is crucial to mead production because it not only provides sugar for fermentation but adds distinct flavor. “Mead’s terroir—it’s sense of place—comes from the honey, which reflects the flowers the bees feed on and the soil that sustains those plants,” John said. At Rohan Meadery they use Texas-produced wildflower honey.
“There are a lot of weird imports,” Wendy said.
For instance, she said, the Chinese are inoculating their bees with growth hormones to stimulate honey production, and they also export ultra-filtered products, which removes all traces of pollen and the only clues as to the honey’s origin. In some cases, the imported product is not actually honey but a man-made substitute.
“Honey is too important to what we do to take any chances, so we depend on regional sources we can trust,” Wendy said.