Saphouse Meadery: Revitalizing a Community with Mead
Mead making began as a hobby for Matt Trahan and Ash Fischbein, cousins born and raised in Ossipee, New Hampshire. The pair began Saphouse Meadery in 2010, their debut batch appearing shortly after in February 2011. Their goal is to invigorate their hometown while doing what they love: making the archaic, honey-fermented beverage.
Saphouse Meadery sources from five apiaries in New Hampshire, one in northern Massachusetts, and one in Maine. The maple syrup comes almost exclusively from Loudon, New Hampshire. Currently, Saphouse Meadery is using 1,000 pounds of honey per month, which translates into 2,500 bottles of mead. All of the fruit comes from local farms and the mead itself is only distributed in locally owned and operated retailers. “We’ve been approached by some of the bigger box stores to carry our mead, but we’ve turned them down,” says Fischbein. “Our retailers have been incredibly loyal to us for doing that.”
Buying locally to sustain the community was the driving force behind their triple bottom line: “People, Planet, and Profit.” They believe in supporting local farms, apiaries, and sap houses to develop their mead, and if they can’t get it locally, they make sure it’s fair trade organic. “We’re willing to sacrifice profit if it means supporting the community and being sustainable,” says Fischbein. “When we started Saphouse, there was nothing here. No stores, no restaurants. In the five years since we’ve been here, there’s a restaurant in the old train station, an awesome rustic bakery, and dance and karate studios; it’s great to see people creating jobs here.”
In the summer of 2015, the cousins completed a major renovation project, turning the town’s first grocery store into a tasting room and converting the Chevy dealership from the 1920s into their production space. Trahan and Fischbein plan to be a community hub for Ossipee locals while continuing to educate folks about mead and inspire cheer in their community. “In the old days, there was a train that came up daily from Boston. There was a significant amount of industry in Ossipee, but eventually, the town just got bypassed,” says Fischbein. “We want to give it a face lift.”