9.15.2018 West Seneca Bee

Meadery to open on Center Road


The site at 290 Center Road, next to Buffalo Ultrasound, will soon house West Seneca’s first meadery.

Approval of a special use permit was granted to Queen City Meadery Monday night during the Town Board meeting.

Owner Brian Bookmiller said the site will serve as a production and distribution facility, with a small tasting room in the front. The meadery will open in October.

Mead is an alcoholic beverage that is created by fermenting honey with water, Bookmiller said. At times, various fruits, spices, grains or hops may be used in the process.

The alcoholic content of mead ranges from as low as 5 percent alcohol by volume to more than 20 percent alcohol by volume.

Bookmiller said the defining characteristic of mead is that the majority of the beverage’s fermentable sugar is derived from honey. Mead may be still, carbonated or naturally sparkling, dry, semi sweet or sweet.

Queen City Meadery will be a licensed, bonded winery through the New York State Liquor Authority and the federal Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. The company has three owners.

“We might produce 400 gallons a month, at most,” Bookmiller said. “There’s no limit when you’re a fully bonded winery; you can produce as much as you want. You just have to pay taxes to the federal government and the state accordingly on how much you do produce.”

Mead will be stored on the property, he said. Depending on the alcohol content, it will need four to 12 weeks to age before it can be bottled and sold in the establishment.

Bookmiller serves as vice president of operations at Queen City Meadery. Robert Schweizer serves as vice president of mead operations.

According to Bookmiller, both he and Schweizer are award-winning mead makers, each having more than 20 years of business operations experience.

Ken Voelker, vice president of sales and marketing, has more than 20 years of sales and marketing experience and will focus on educating the public on the business and promoting product awareness, Bookmiller said.

“Initially, it’s just going to be the three owners because we’re going to be producing for a while until we can gain inventory. Once we open, we intend to hire a few employees here and there to cover the tasting room hours and retail space,” Bookmiller said.

The tasting room area will be small, with an expected capacity of about 15 people at a time, Bookmiller said. An official occupancy limit will be set by the town’s code enforcement office once the building is open.

“This is going to be similar to a tasting room if you were to visit a winery in Lake Chautauqua or the Niagara Trail. You come in, try a couple small glasses. If you like anything, you buy a few bottles, or, we hope you buy a few bottles,” he laughed.

Queen City Meadery products will be available through area farmers markets and events in the Erie and Niagara region. Eventually, Bookmiller said they plan to sell to liquor stores and bars directly, distributed from the facility.

Tasting room hours will be limited, but subject to change depending on demand. At present, hours are proposed as 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday; 2 to 8 p.m. Friday; noon to 8 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. The tasting room will be closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.