Jeff Sr. (left), Jeff Jr. (right) making a local honey mead
People ask us how we got into the mead business. The answer is simple, to offer an alcoholic beverage alternative to beer, wine and hard liquor. But why mead, why not sake? That answer is also a simple one, the owner and founder Jeff Kesling Jr. loves honey. As a sidebar, Jeff Sr. spent part of our opening day describing, to anyone who would listen, that his reason for getting into this business was for his son to make Horseradish Mead.
So how does a love of honey and an interest in alcohol translate into mead? It starts, like many home-brews, with experimentation. Jeff Jr. and a few of his friends, decided to start by making a pineapple mead. We later found out pineapple is a very difficult fruit to make alcohol using, so we started with a high difficulty brew. It took this mead a year to finally taste palatable, but is now remembered very fondly by all of us. We have a single bottle remaining, and those friends that were there at the beginning are constantly eyeballing the bottle, and trying to sneak out with it.
After the long wait for that first mead, Jeff Jr. started making more in an attempt to refine the technique. After making the first few, and having them all turn out wonderfully, Jeff's father, Jeff Sr. decided Jeff Jr. should pursue a license. The process to get the license was long and grueling, it ended up taking us over 8 months. Then came the learning process involving the labeling and formulas aspect, which took us another 6 months. After all the waiting, we finally opened our doors on April 1, 2017.
In November, 2017, the tasting room was moved to Unit 11 (next door @ top of stairs). Unit 12 is now devoted to manufacturing, to handle distribution of our meads.
In March, 2020 we moved our operation about 200 ft. north to a much larger, and ground level location. We added a beautiful mural that is becoming a landmark in Key Largo, painted by the talented Ginger Hill, a local artist.
In February 2021 we are now also a distillery. Look for our new spirits and liqours over the next few months.
THE KESLINGS & Other important people
Jeff Kesling Jr.: owner and Mazer (mead maker) of Keys' Meads.
Cara Kesling: loving wife of Jeff Kesling, Jr and mother of Nayiri and Liliana.
Nayiri Storm Kesling: born September 7, 2017 (2 days before hurricane Irma).
Liliana Kesling: Born July 4th, 2020 amid the Covid19 Pandemic. Bar-tends at Keys' Meads occasionally during the week!
Jeff Kesling Sr. (Pictured with Jeff Jr. above): Co-owner and where many of the ideas that Jeff Jr. turns into reality originate from this amazing man and father.
Jeff Wingate: Owner of Pirate Hat Apiary, our favorite local bee keeper and the source of all the Key Largo wildflower honey we use, partner in Keys' Meads and our head distiller.