Meet Your Maker: Ethan MacWilliams

November 28, 2016

We love mead. Heck, that’s why we spend literally every waking moment making, tasting, and enjoying it.

But have you ever thought about the brave humans who wade waist-deep in the honey to create this exquisite beverage, the oldest known alcoholic beverage in the world?

We figured it was high time to give our makers the spotlight, and to gain some insight into what their jobs entail- the hardships, the not-so-hardships (the easyships?), the agony and the ecstasy of artfully creating liquid gold.


Can you describe a typical workday as a mazer?

 There isn’t really any such thing as a typical day, but I’ll do my best:
I wake up in the morning and through a series of alarms I prepare to bring da ruckus.  After arriving at work and maybe drinking a bit from the world’s most important coffee maker, I proceed to make the yeast do my bidding.  If there is mead making to be done that day, I mix all necessary ingredients with incredible precision and bring about beautiful fermentation and flavoring with the grace of a Kung Fu master.  When the work of the mazer is complete, the work of the cellarman begins and cleaning becomes the life one leads.  I like a pretty work-space, and as the prettiest person in the meadery, I usually get what I want. [That last statement is up for debate– Ed.]

Can you describe an atypical day as a mazer?

When my little yeasties don’t do as they’re told.  It’s not like you can put them on a time-out and make them go back to work after an hour;  sometimes they can get a bit cranky.  Tragedies do happen, but through the power of our production team’s hive-mind and some out of the box creativity, we accomplish our goals for the product.  There are some bad days, but there are good days- such as when I get to pull a product out of a barrel where it’s been aged to perfection.  Or when we get to do a round-table taste test of everything in the pipeline and I get to hear how delicious everything I make is.


Do you have a pet? If you don’t, what kind of pet would you like to have?

I don’t have a pet, but my mom has a dog that visits my place every now and again, and he’s super awesome.  I would like to get a big, jolly dog like a Wolfhound or Mastiff at some point, when I have a house with a yard.


 What has been your biggest triumph as a mazer?

Just not too long ago I visited Seattle and saw a bunch of old friends I hadn’t seen in a while.  I brought a bunch of B. Nektar meads and cysers with me for them to try and every single person there had only good things to say about all of them.  People who I love and only get to see maybe once a year were completely blown away at how good everything tasted, and that just makes me the happiest camper.


 Tell us about the hardest day you’ve had so far:

There isn’t really any such thing as an easy 14 hour work day, but they happen every now and again.  I do what’s necessary to get the job done, and sometimes that includes exerting myself a bit more than one should and coming home with many bruises.  But that’s what happens when you love your job and the folks you work with.  Accept nothing less than success. Also, I once crushed a mini-fridge with a forklift on accident, that was a bad time.


How many martial arts maneuvers do you know?

 Super regretting the Kung Fu master joke from earlier, but I am pretty good at the downward facing dog.  I am also master of the picking-up-clothes-off-the-floor-with-my-foot-and-tossing-it-up-to-catch-it-with-my-hand maneuver.  Also, the rarely used but super impressive banging of ones head on low-hanging equipment, small house ceiling lights and door-frames.


 Lastly, what has been the most important lesson you’ve learned in meadmaking?

Have the patience of a saint when explaining mead, meadmaking, or what a meadery is to folks who have no idea what mead is.  Turns out education is one of the biggest obstacles we need to overcome to be truly successful.


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