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2-13-18 Tonight we’re continuing our AMMA Conference Speaker Showcase and have Greg Heller-LaBelle, owner of The Colony Meadery and Chrissie Manion Zaerpoor, author of The Art of Mead and Food Pairing.

Greg Heller-LaBelle is the CEO and co-founder of The Colony Meadery in Allentown, PA. Prior to that, he drove the success and growth of startup ventures in industries ranging from community banking to math educational technology. A passionate believer in community and economic development, Greg started his career at the economic development nonprofit Riverlife in Pittsburgh, where he coordinated communications around major land development projects, including stadiums and Point State Park revitalization. He also has worked and volunteered on several political campaigns, ranging from city council to president. In his off time, Greg was a writer who had successful blogs on politics, beer and art (and, sometimes, how they interact). An alumnus of Pitt and Lehigh, he’s lived in Bethlehem three times, Pittsburgh twice, and Mexico once. Now he lives in Bethlehem with his wife and their bulldog, Disraeli.

As Legislative Affairs Chair of the AMMA, Greg has overseen several major achievements, including: common formulas and COLAs from the TTB; a relaxation of barrel aging in meads; and the passage of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, which is the first legislation to carve out specific tax benefits for mead. In Pennsylvania, his work with the Assembly led to a change in laws that permitted meaderies to work with wholesalers.

Greg will be giving a wide-ranging talk on how to successfully interact with the TTB at the AMMA Conference, featuring everything from formulas to labels, with a robust time for Q&A.

Our second guest this evening, Chrissie Manion Zaerpoor, holds a B.S. in Physics from Arizona State University, and “most of a master’s degree” in electrical engineering and semiconductor materials and device characterization from Columbia University. She was a process engineer and engineering manager at Intel Corporation for 13 years before founding Kookoolan Farms in Yamhill, Oregon, in 2005, with her husband Koorosh. She first heard the word “mead” in high school English class in about 1981 and has been obsessed with mead ever since; she’s been an amateur meadmaker since 1997 and a licensed commercial meadery owner since 2009 Kookoolan World Meadery (approximately the 80th licensed American meadery). Kookoolan Farms meads have twice won medals at Mazer Cup International (2014 and 2015 silver medals). Chrissie was a founding director of the American Mead Makers Association, its first Legislative Committee Chair, and contributing editor and frequent contributor to the AMMA Journal, as well as to the new publication She is the author of “The Art of Mead Tasting and Food Pairing,” published 2017 and in consideration both for the Gourmand and James Beard cookbook awards. She is the Keynote Speaker and lead lecturer for the University of California/Davis Honey and Pollination Center’s newest mead course, “Intermediate Mead Making: The Styles and Nuances of Mead,” February 2018.

Chrissie will be talking about pairing Mead and Food, both for home meadmakers and pros. Her presentation will be an overview of mead pairing strategies for more enjoyment of your meads at home; using your knowledge of food pairings to design better-selling meads; to sell more mead in the tasting room; and to sell more mead to restaurants.

1. “Impact” (body and intensity of the drink and the food should match): big meads with big food; delicate meads with light food
2. Treat traditional meads as white wines (examples and photos)
3. Treat sweet meads as dessert wines for cheese and dessert pairings (examples and photos)
4. Oak pairs with smoke
5. Pair semisweet to sweet meads with hot/spicy foods to cut the heat (examples and photos)
ethnic pairings: basil metheglin with Italian; mango with Asian; rose with Middle Eastern; lime with Mexican, etc (examples and photos)
6. Look to places where mead has been at the table longest for food traditions and pairings. Poland, Ethiopia, Irish/Celtic, Scandinavian traditional foods pair particularly well (examples and photos)
7. Treat fruit meads like fruit wines, e.g. raspberry meads, cysers – examples and photos
8. Use your new expertise to design best-selling meads: understand what your customers want to drink every day
9. Use your new expertise to sell more mead in your tasting room: talking with customers about drinking your meads at home
9. Use your new expertise to sell more mead to restaurants: talking with chefs and sommeliers about how your meads complement their menu
10. Future of mead and food pairing

This talk will feature photos from “The Art of Mead Tasting and Food Pairing,” and will (favorably) mention dozens of commercial meaderies by name. It will also feature several restaurant menus to talk about how to read a menu as a commercial meadery owner looking to sell mead to the restaurant.

If you want us to tackle your mead making questions, you can send us a question and we’ll tackle it online!

Bring your questions and your mead, and let’s talk mead! You can call us at 803-443-MEAD (6323), or Skype us at meadwench (please friend me first and say you’re a listener, I get tons of Skype spam), or tweet to @gotmeadnow.

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Vicky Rowe

Vicky Rowe has been active as a promoter and supporter of the mead industry since the mid-90's with, and is totally serious about seeing the mead industry take its rightful place as a popular craft beverage on the world recreational drinking stage.

She is also an experienced marketing coach and consultant who has recently decided to focus her marketing expertise exclusively on the craft beverage market to help meaderies, cideries, breweries and distilleries expand their business and get more customers while doing what they love.
Vicky Rowe
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