Tucked away in Mauldin sits the Upstate’s only meadery, Wandering Bard Meadery.
While Wandering Bard was founded just over two years ago by the uncle-and-nephew team of Brian and Adam Daughhetee, the love of brewing beer and mead has been in this family since 1990, when Brian Daughhetee started making mead.
“I was in college and beer was expensive,” Brian Daughhetee said. “A friend of mine, who is one of our investors, had gone out to California that summer to visit family. He told me that people were brewing their own beer out there.”
Brian Daughhetee and his friend looked around and found a home-brew supply store. They started making beer and after he made his first batch he realized he could make decent beer for less money than store-bought brews. His first beer-recipe book also had a recipe for the honey-based alcohol called mead, which he tried as his second or third batch of anything he made.
Only 12 years younger than Brian, Adam Daughhetee was introduced to mead making by watching his dad and Brian homebrew together. Although Adam saw the brewing going on in the house, he was not a brewer himself.
After moving to the Upstate from Maryland to join Brian’s IT business, Adam Daughhetee suggested that the two start a business making mead because, according to Adam, it was “an up-and-coming beverage.”
“I started seeing mead referenced in pop culture-like books, the Vikings shows on the History channel and ‘Game of Thrones,’” said Adam Daughhetee. who handles marketing and operations.
When Adam first approached his uncle about brewing mead professionally, Brian Daughhetee was not interested. Then the pair shared with friends a batch of mead Brian had just made and, based on the encouraging feedback they received, Brian agreed to go into the business with his nephew.
“Even then, I don’t think we had an idea what the scale of what we were doing was going to be,” Brian said. “We thought we were going to be perpetual mead makers, but we were going to sell to our friends.”
The transition from home mead maker to production was an adjustment, according to the pair. Just before they started, Brian Daughhetee was already making more home brew and had the opportunity to buy a 75-gallon fermenter. According to the elder Daughhetee, a home-brew fermenter usually makes only five gallons. Today, Wandering Bard’s largest tank is just under 400 gallons and the company is looking to buy two more.
The relationship between uncle and nephew is reflected in the name of the business. Wandering Bard comes from several avenues. The first is that both Daughhetees were in bands. As a result, storytelling, poetry and music are all meaningful within their family. The second is that when Brian started making mead, he travelled frequently. Finally, when Brian Daughhetee was in college, both he and Adam Daughhetee played a role-playing computer game titled Bard’s Tale.
“We took all those ideas and the game and came up with Wandering Bard,” said Adam Daughhetee. “The name just felt right; it clicked.”
Today, Wandering Bard mead is available in 20 commercial varieties with all-natural ingredients — and the mead is gluten free.
You can go
Wandering Bard Meadery is open the first Saturday of every month.
- 109-B Miller Road, Mauldin