The drink of hobbits will get its own farm license in New York under a proposal in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget for 2018-19.
The proposal creates a farm meadery license, the latest craft beverage license to join those already available in New York for wine, beer, cider and spirits. Mead is a fermented beverage made from honey, water and other ingredients such as spices, fruits, herbs and flowers.
“New York is the No. 1 producer of honey in the Northeast, and by increasing opportunities for farms to produce mead, our thriving craft beverage manufacturing sector will continue to grow,” Cuomo said. “The creation of the farm meadery license will help strengthen these two great New York industries and further add to our tourism economy, fueling growth in every corner of this great state.”
The mead license would also allow producers to make a malt-based honey beverage known as braggot. The farm license would limit producers to a total of 250,000 gallons of mead and braggot, and would require that they use only honey produced in New York. Similar to other craft beverage licenses, a mead license would allow a producer to have a restaurant and gift shop on site, sell other New York-made beverages, and have as many as five outlets off site.
Assembly member William Magee, D-Nelson, Oneida County, who is chairman of the Committee on Agriculture, said, “The farm meadery license will open new and exciting markets for New York beekeepers, making it possible for them to expand into the growing tourism economy and flourishing craft beverage trails.”
Though the smallest of the craft beverage industries, mead is also the fastest growing, according to state officials. Between 2003 and 2016, the number of mead makers in the United States grew from 30 to 300. At least three are located in the Finger Lakes, all operating under winery licenses. A farm winery license, however, costs $3,025, while the new meadery license would cost just $75.
As with hard cider, mead could be sold in both grocery stores and wine and liquor stores.
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