Making Mead on Mystical Kauai

Making Mead on Mystical Kauai

Drinking alcohol is a universal social activity that can bring people from all corners of the world together and incite a bond that may have otherwise gone unnoticed without a little liquid encouragement. But most travellers usually find themselves at the bar consuming alcoholic beverages, rather than making the liquor their guzzling down, in fact most people probably don’t even consider the job of a brewer, vintner or distiller as a possible employment option for themselves, especially not while travelling.  

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The jobs that are most commonly thought when looking for work abroad are typically seasonal hospitality related jobs, like waitressing, bar tending or leading tours. What many fail to realize is that though these jobs are easier to acquire, and thus drastically more popularly known, there are other industries where travellers can gain employment, you just have to look for them a little more than the more prevalent traveller gigs.

A few years ago I was living on the Garden Isle of Kauai, and although I was working part time on a farm, I still had a yearning for a source of income and a different environment to meet people in other than the farm. I wandered into town and began searching for possible employment opportunities. There was a plethora of restaurants, grocery stores and hotels that had openings, but they weren't positions that I found particularly interesting or challenging. It wasn't until I wandered into a smaller congregation of stores and offices that I happened upon a sign that said “meadery”. Curious, I headed inside to find a dazzling tasting room, with a few large tanks behind a wall of glass doors. Interested in trying mead for the first time, I sat down for a taster and met a vibrant woman who happened to also be the owner of the local meadery. Little did I know that that chance encounter would turn into a transformational work experience!

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What followed next was an immersion into the world of making mead, working with local farmers and bee keepers, and learning the ins and outs of marketing and managing a unique all natural homemade product. Jobs that catch you off guard and are not your typical seasonal occupation will usually give you insight into realms you had little awareness about prior to working there. 

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My responsibilities at the meadery started slow with simply peeling the fresh local fruit that was brought to us by local farmers. Hundreds of pounds of lilikoi (passion fruit), pineapples, star fruit and mountain apple would roll into the meadery and need to be juiced, sliced or seeded so that we could then add it to the batches of mead that we had fermenting in the tanks. As time went on, I began to accumulate more responsibilities like filtering the mead, bottling and packing and the initial pumping the honey. On the not so glamorous side, I was also given the responsibility of cleaning tanks that we had recently finished using, but it was all part of the glorious mead-making process. 

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On top of all of the technical manufacturing know-how of mead from tank to table as well as relationship building with the owner of the meadery, the local farmers and the bee keepers, I was able to see what its like to work as a part of a truly local company that has a sincere mission to bring a quality product to the community. When you are able to find employment with a company that will allow you to assimilate into an authentic presence within the community, you can explore a life changing experience that is far more valuable than an average position at a generic chain company. Make the extra effort to see what opportunities lie beyond the surface of traveller employment.  

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11 December 2017
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