Commercial Meadery Category: Commercial Meaderies
With just a small spot of land, Jefferson Casto’s parents and grandparents “dabbled” a bit with bees as he was growing up in Beckley.
With a bit more land just outside of Lewisburg at the top of Caldwell hill “about 100 yards from the Lewisburg Coolest Small Town in America sign,” Casto took that interest he developed all those years ago and got some bees of his own and some chickens, too.
“Just because I could,” he said.
His bees did pretty well, too, producing about 20 gallons of honey. Twenty gallons for a family of four.
“That’s a lot,” he said. “Most people, including me, eat a jar of honey a year. If that.”
And with that much honey, Casto began to wonder just what to do with the leftovers.
That’s when he thought of turning the honey into something a little different — mead.
“So I jumped in, fermenting little batches,” he said, explaining the process simply involves diluting the honey with water and adding yeast. “It takes several months to do it, but at the end of it, it started turning out decent enough you could drink it.”
For several years, Casto made mead at home, sharing with family and friends, but eventually, he began to realize, like he had with the honey, he might want to do a bit more.
“You make more and more, but you’ve still got honey coming in,” he said. “People come over and you end up giving away enough of it that you think, I should either make less or try to make it legally and sell it.”
Not as a full-time job though.
Just as a hobby.
“A big hobby,” he concedes.
The full-time job will always take precedence over the side gig.
His patients will probably appreciate that, too.
Casto is a general surgeon in Greenbrier County. He simply moonlights as the owner of Monticola Meadery.