Located next to a gun shop and nestled near the junction of County Road East and Highway 61 stands White Bear Meadery. Owner and operator Joshua Eckton says a lot of people who come through the door are surprised—they drive by every day and never even knew it was there. That’s a shame, because this meadery is worth the stop.
Eckton spent most of his early years in Alaska. After getting his food science degree from Oregon State University, he worked in produce before meeting his wife and becoming a stay-at-home dad. Last year, after a fateful visit to a Texas winery/meadery and fueled by his longtime home-brewing passion and desire to explore the fermentation side of his degree, Eckton and his family decided to open White Bear Meadery.
“We saw a need for mead,” says Eckton. “There are a lot of great places for beer and wine, and even spirits now in the Twin Cities, but not mead.”
Despite being a newcomer to the Twin Cities scene, mead is thought to be one of the oldest fermented beverages. Nearly every culture had honey, and nearly every culture figured out how to ferment it.
One of Eckton’s influences for the shop was a culture that featured mead prominently—the Vikings. There is a strong Scandinavian influence in Minnesota, and Eckton wanted to incorporate that along with the Viking influence from his Scottish heritage. Plus, you know, the Minnesota Vikings.
“This is us telling a story about mead and how it relates to the peoples of Minnesota,” Eckton says.
White Bear Meadery uses as many Minnesota ingredients as possible. From local hops to local honey, Eckton believes in small businesses supporting other small businesses.
“We are just a small family-run operation. My wife and I are owners and our kids are on the website. We are just trying to make mead more mainstream,” says Eckton.
White Bear Meadery’s beautiful tasting room is open five days a week Wednesday through Sunday. To find out more, visit them at whitebearmeadery.com.