Two beekeeping brothers are buzzing after their take on the ancient drink mead won a UK accelerator programme for aspiring brewers.
Matt Newell checking the progress of the mead
Matt and Kit Newell keep more than six million bees in the Wye Valley, South Wales. The honey they produce is then fermented and turned into the alcoholic drink at their meadery in Caldicot.
The pair were awarded first place in the Brew Accelerator programme for their Sparkling Mead range. This is a modern take on the historic drink and is infused with natural flavours.
They claimed the top prize — a year of mentoring and guidance, valued at £50,000 — at the BrewLDN event in Printworks, London. Judges were impressed by how passionate the pair are about their brand as well as the quality of the products and the potential for growth.
The brothers are now planning a major expansion in on-trade sales. They doubled their turnover during the pandemic due to a rise in online purchases. They have also opened a taproom at the meadery.
Checking the bee hives
The business plan they submitted to Brew Accelerator will be quickly escalated to focus on their Sparkling Mead range. They want to grow production of kegs and cans for the on-trade. They have already sold their first keg following the launch at BrewLDN and plan to expand on that regionally, then grow sales across the UK.
Further expansion plans include opening their own off-site mead bar and exporting the drink to the Far East and Eastern Europe.
Wye Valley Meadery was set up in 2018 by Matt, who had spent 20 years beekeeping as a hobby, and younger brother Kit, who comes from a marketing and product development background.
The pair, who are due to appear on BBC’s The Hairy Bikers later this year, now produce 4,000 litres of the drink a month, which is 4% ABV and which comes in a variety of flavours.
Adam Hardie is head of food and drink at accountancy firm Johnston Carmichael, which supports Brew Accelerator. He said: “Matt and Kit were more than worthy winners. “We have been hugely impressed with how Wye Valley Meadery has continued to grow throughout the pandemic, despite the obvious challenges.
“The sparkling mead itself tastes first class, and we think their business has real potential for growth in the coming months and years. We are already in contact with Matt and Kit, providing tax and accountancy expertise, as well as offering support with their expansion plans.”
Matt said: “I’ve enjoyed beekeeping as a hobby for over 20 years, and always had a real passion for mead. Its popularity has really boomed in recent years, because of shows like Vikings and Game of Thrones, and we’ve grown pretty rapidly as a business since starting over four years ago.
“Our turnover has more than quadrupled since our first year, and we’re enjoying getting more in tune with our market and customers.”
• Applications for next year’s Brew Accelerator will be opening soon. For details, visit brewldn.com/