Back to booze basics at the new taproom
With soft openings slated in June, Four Fires will provide a new option for craft alcohol consumers in Northwest Ohio. New is a relative term, in this instance, as Four Fires provides a throwback to one of the world’s oldest types of alcohol: mead.
What is mead?
For those unfamiliar with mead, Four Fires co-founder Josh Kirk describes it with a simple comparison.
“The best way to describe mead is by comparing it to other types of alcohol,” Kirk said. “Beer is from grain, wine is from grapes, and mead is from honey.”
Where did the name Four Fires originate?
The Four Fires name has its roots in the Native American tribes of northwest Ohio and surrounding areas. In 796 AD, the Chippewa, Ottawa and Potawatomi tribes decided to work together, dubbing their collaboration as The Council of Three Fires. With four founding partners, Josh Kirk, Andrew Lynch, Athreya Rajan, and Christopher Clarke, Four Fires built there identity on this collaboration. This partnership, however, did not initially center around making mead.
“We pretty much met through the craft beer community and beer tastings,” Lynch said. “We were all brewing beer, but realized we were actually making much better mead than beer.”
According to Kirk, pursuing a career in making mead made much more sense.
“At the time, we were all brewing beer with various levels of success,” Kirk said. “But we found that we could actually make world class mead. We weren’t brewing anything close to world class beers at the time, but when we started making mead, we felt like we were on to something.”
The craft alcohol boom
Like craft breweries, craft meaderies are also growing at an impressive rate. According to the American Meadmakers Association (AMMA), the number of commercial meaderies in the US increased from approximately 30 in 2003 to about 200 in 2013. By 2016, that number had increased to nearly 300. The AMMA data actually shows that the growth in mead has outpaced other alcoholic beverages, including beer. According to the AMMA and DRAFT Magazine, from 2014 to 2015, the sales and production of craft beer increased by 17 percent and 18 percent, respectively. Mead sales, however, grew by 42 percent, while production increased by 128 percent. According to Lynch, this presented an excellent opportunity.
“The brewery market seems to be saturated right now,” Lynch said. “Mead seems to be a pretty untapped market. We’ll still be on the ground floor of it in [northwest Ohio].”
According to Kirk, what makes mead so appealing is its approachability.
“We’ve noticed that our kegs sell really well in breweries,” Kirk said. “Not everyone who goes to breweries wants to drink beer so our meads tend to sell well there.”
Where can I find Four Fires?
Four Fires will be open initially only on Fridays and Saturdays. The taproom will have 16 taps, which Four Fires hopes to fill with mostly their own offerings. The goal is to pursue additional licenses to have beer and a full bar available. According to Kirk, the formula is pretty simple.
“Alcohol brought us all together,” Kirk said. “We think we can be successful if we have something available for everyone to enjoy.”
Four Fires Meadery, 1683 Lance Point Rd.,
Unit 106, Maumee | email@example.com