By Kay Richardson, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 7, 2016, 6:05 AM
Chances are, you probably have never tried mead, a honey-based fermented beverage laced with fruit flavors. It’s not widely known except to those who remember it from ancient literature. But one at a time, customers who taste Gary Gross’ meads are being won over at tastings and local pubs. “Once people try it, they embrace it,” he said.
Making mead was a natural draw to the retired chemical engineer who first tasted it at his son’s medieval wedding. “There is a crossover between the science and the art involved in making mead, and I love putting those two things together,” he said.
Name: Gary Gross.
Residence Neighborhood: Manor.
Business name: Ethereal Meads LLC, 360-903-4591; www.etherealmeads.com
Educational/professional background: B.S., chemical engineering, University of Washington, 1980. Six years in global oil and petrochemical process design and startup with UOP (an oil and petrochemical products design company); 25 years at Kalama Chemical in production, engineering, international sales and product line management.
How — and when — you got started in your business: I first tasted mead at our son’s medieval wedding in 2004. I loved it and started making mead almost immediately as a hobby. As we shared mead with family and friends over the next eight years, I was often encouraged to start a mead business. In 2012, my wonderful wife, Shirley, and I decided together to pursue the dream of turning my hobby into a business. I’ve been building the business foundation and have established a few meads in the market up to now. In 2016, we are ready to grow, with the right infrastructure for production and an adequate understanding of market dynamics for mead as a beverage.
Personal/business philosophy: Life is too short to not do something you love. If you’re not starting each day excited about what you’ll be doing that day, it’s probably time for a change.
Most rewarding part of job: This is a difficult question because so many elements of the job are rewarding. Two things come to mind: 1, imagining a mead, developing the recipe, producing the mead in a process you designed and built, and having it turn out delicious; and 2, watching the faces of people who have never tasted mead before at their first sip. It’s very rewarding to hear, “Wow! That is good!”
Full Story: Working in Clark County: Gary Gross, meadmaster
Meadery Profile: Ethereal Meads