After graduating college, two high school friends decided to move to Atlanta searching for fortune and fame (they’re still looking). Like many recent grads, Martin Key and Justin Schoendorf found themselves relatively poor and possessing an insatiable appetite for craft beer.
At the time, the selection in Georgia was quite limited; Georgia did not allow beer above 6% ABV until 2004. They thought making their own beer was the answer to their dilemma and the two dove into beer making at a furious rate (due to legal reasons, they cannot disclose how much they actually made). The legal amount of beer any one person can make in a year is 50 gallons, so let's just leave it at that. Martin and Justin learned to make new and interesting beers, they tinkered with styles and recipes - making things that weren’t available in the market. Eventually, they stumbled upon a drink called mead.
Mead has a very alluring history with stories of aphrodisiacs, orgies, battles, and lore - not to mention it packs a pretty stiff punch.
They just had to make some to see what it was all about.
Nicknamed “the nectar of the gods”, they wondered how could it possibly be bad? Never having tried commercial mead before, they went about making mead the same way they made beer: carbonated with very little sweetness. Initial attempts turned out good and were upwards of 15% ABV. The ABV alone got their attention and it quickly became a product that they kept in their brewing rotation.
Friends that enjoyed their brews gravitated more and more toward the mead and would often check in to find out when more would be ready. These friends would “randomly” stop by when a batch was near completion just to get it while it was fresh.
For the next few years, they would make many different versions of mead. Finally, they got curious and decided to try some of the commercial meads on the market. They soon realized that none of what was available tasted anything like what they were doing. They developed a recipe suited to their tastes, their friends seemed to like it, so they decided to start a meadery and share their recipe with the world. And that is how Monk’s Meadery began!
So please sit back, relax, and take a load off - pop a cold mead and enjoy life.
What's the story behind the name "Monks Mead"?
Justin and Martin decided on Monks Mead because of the historical significance of monasteries in mead production (and the loss of the popularity of mead in England).
Monks were the main keepers of bees; to harvest the wax used in religious ceremonies. Since there was not a big demand for honey, they would make mead to earn extra income for their monastery. During the English Reformation, Henry the VIII dissolved all the monasteries and destroyed most of the hives - as the honey disappeared, so did the mead.
Justin and Martin thought it would be suitable for "Monks" to usher in the comeback of a once popular beverage...either that or they just like the sound of the name :)
What are their brewing and industry backgrounds?
Both Justin and Martin have been avid home brewers since the turn of the century. Justin has been in the alcohol business for more than 15 years, so he provides a lot of industry knowledge and experience.
Outside of that, they've had a lot of on-the-job training and they both have a passion for what they make - that drive keeps them going and learning everything needed to get Monks Mead up and running.