Kenton Moore says he returned to the McLure community in the North Thompson Valley to start Bone Hill Meadery on his family farm.
Moore undertakes the venture with the help of his mother and stepfather Shirley and Al Wiley, the owner of Wiley’s Buzz Farm.
He said this new venture is a continuation of the family tradition of making homemade dandelion wine and a way for him to keep the farm in the family.
“Last year I spoke to my parents about legacy and passing on. My kids are all grown and I just wanted a change,” said Moore, 42, adding that the farm has been in his mother’s family for three generations.
“My mother, Shirley, it’s her farm and she really cares about the legacy of it and she’s really happy to see our name on something. My stepfather Al is a beekeeper like his grandfather was a beekeeper so I learned that from him. It’s really a family team doing this.”
The Canadian Navy veteran said he brewed his own wine all the time while working as a defense contractor in Victoria. However, when the COVID-19 lockdowns came down in 2020, Moore was trapped in his apartment with five gallons of his parents’ honey.
“I didn’t know what to do with it, so I ordered some brewing supplies from Amazon and started the mead-making journey,” Moore said. “This first batch turned out great. Right from the start it was super clear, dry and crisp. I ended up taking it to a bunch of my friends and it literally became an obsession for me.”
For the past two years, Moore said, he’s nurtured this obsession by joining mead maker groups on Facebook to learn more about his new hobby. On the Internet, he met his mentor, Kristeva Dowling, owner of Stolen Harvey Meadery in Grande Prarie, Alta. Dowling invited Moore to their brewery to learn how to make the drink commercially and encouraged him to open his own businesses. In April last year he moved back home to start his own brewery.
Now’s a good time, Moore said, as the mead industry is “right now enjoying a renaissance.” He said this surge in interest was due to the craft beer movement and mead’s representation in pop culture. video games like Skyrim and TV shows like viking both popularized the drink among young people.
“There’s a lot of romance surrounding the alcohol itself. Archaeologically, there’s evidence that it’s the oldest fermented drink in the world because it only needs honey, water and yeast. Every culture in the world has some form of mead that they make. It was called ambrosia by the Romans and Greeks, tej by the Ethiopians, and the Celts and Egyptians drank it too.”
According to Moore, making mead simply requires the right equipment, the right ingredients, and a steady supply of honey. His stepfather’s bees will provide the honey, and Moore plans to start building the honey shack this summer after the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch approves his application for a manufacturing license in principle. Within three to six months they should be fully licensed and ready to start brewing.
In the meantime, Moore is still brewing mead himself while experimenting to find the best brews for commercial use. Their “flagship” blend is a Bochet-style mead, where they caramelize the honey and add a marshmallow and toffee flavor to the mead. The process of experimentation and creativity is what Moore loves most about being a mead maker.
“It’s such a fusion of art and science to do something like this. You have to have the creativity and innovative spirit to try new things, but at the same time there is so much chemistry and biochemistry involved. It feeds both my artistic side and my nerd side, it’s a perfect mix.”
Like us on Facebook
Barrier DistrictNorth Thompson Valley