By BONNIE BOLDEN, The News-Star
WEST MONROE, La. (AP) — “I will never accept defeat. I will never quit.”
Those statements are part of the US Army Soldier’s Creed, so it’s unsurprising that two Army vets would take that approach after losing their business.
In December 2019, Curtis Sims and Cameron Myers opened Two Warriors Meadery in West Monroe, the first such facility in the state.
Mead is an alcoholic beverage created by fermenting honey with water, sometimes with various fruits, spices, grains, or hops.
Two Warriors sold out in their first weekend and expanded production to include distribution around the state. In February, they bought the building they opened in West Monroe. They made their first payment on the building in late March, and on March 31 a fire started in a house next door, spread and decimated their production area.
Within hours, Sims was already working on how to rebuild bigger and better. He’s looking for ways to expand production by two or three times, even if it means moving. Myers anticipates a bigger tasting room and the addition of a beer garden with a stage to host events.
They’re hoping to reboot the brewing process within six months, but that’s a best-case scenario.
Sims anticipated the beekeeper they buy honey from will have to sell the spring honey harvest to other buyers, but he’s hopeful they’ll be using the fall collection soon.
“I’d love to have him making Bochet by the end of the year,” Myers said.
Bochet is the most work-intensive recipe they make, using a recipe from the 1390s. Their technique has won multiple awards. The honey is caramelized until it’s almost black, and that process takes more than 12 hours. Then they add vanilla bean and spices. The end product tastes like caramel, toffee, vanilla and toasted marshmallow.
The last bottles of any variety of Two Warriors mead available via their distributor, PF Importers, sold out about two hours after news of the fire spread. So if people find it on a shelf in a store, that’s the last chance to buy for a long time.
On April 10, they took some cases to the Scottish Tartan Festival in Minden. Myers said he thought they’d brought too much, but after five and a half hours of steady traffic, they effectively sold out.
At a recent party to kick off rebuilding efforts, the duo sold the last of their stock, about 200 bottles. Bottles that were in the building at the time of blaze have been shrink-wrapped. They operated out of the back portion of the building, which was left unscathed, for the event.
Our Home, a local charity that supports veterans, has a GoFundMe set up to help them rebuild at https://bit.ly/32l6Vuj.
Sims said with all the work they’ve done to support vets, it’s special that they’re being supported in return.
The duo had been planning a huge event on July 10 at Chennault Aviation & Military Museum in Monroe, to honor the 100th birthday of John Howard McCarter Jr., a World War II veteran who was a turret gunner on a B-24 called “Battle Weary.”
Myers and Sims referred to McCarter as one of the last remaining Selman field airmen in the region.
They’d planned a special “Battle Weary” mead for the event and have invited state and local elected officials and have arranged special displays and honor guards. The fire is changing how they’re going to brew the mead but not stopping their plans.
After the fire, Viking Alchemist Meadery in Smyrna, Georgia, reached out to them and offered support, so Sims will fly out and brew the event blend there.
Myers said they were excited to find the nose art for McCarter’s plane and incorporate it into the label.
Sims said they had to make some slight modifications.
“We had to put clothes on the pin-up girl,” he laughed.
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