Rural Missouri - June 2018 - 23
by Paul Newton | email@example.com
is where Todd can work his magic by either storing, aging or ﬂavoring the mead
to create the delicious ﬁnal product.
"We only use whole products to ﬂavor," he says. "We don't use concentrates,
purees, artiﬁcial ﬂavorings or colorings."
The couple focuses on a local ﬁrst approach when sourcing those ﬂavoring ingredients. Leaky Roof's Great Uncle Ken - a traditional mead aged in
bourbon barrels - is named after Ken Nicholas who supplies Todd with honey.
They also purchase grapes, pears, apples, fresh-pressed cider and more from
Once the mead has been ﬂavored or aged for the appropriate amount of time
- it varies based on the recipe - it is ﬁltered and packaged in a can, bottle or
keg. Some meads are carbonated while others are bottled and corked.
"We've been at this here for 5 years and we're still tweaking recipes and
changing things here and there to get them all just where we want them," Todd
The mead is then shipped off with distributors or sold in the 800-squarefoot taproom in front of the production facility. The room features coolers full
of Todd's mead as well as beer from craft brewers. There are 12 taps at Leaky
Roof with 10 dedicated to the mead made on site, and the other two being guest
taps to feature other meaderies concoctions.
"The taproom is kind of the icing on the cake for us," Katie says. "It's a way
to get people in the door and trying
mead for the ﬁrst time."
Todd adds: "It was hard at
ﬁrst because we started offering
a niche product in an area where
there really wasn't a niche. So
we've had to not only market our
brand to customers, but also build
a mead niche in Buffalo. People
know who we are now."
The taproom plays host to events
and festivals throughout the year,
an open jam night the ﬁrst Friday
of the month and food trucks so you
can stick around a little longer.
Whether it's a sample at the annual May Day festival, a Leaky Roof
mead poured at home or one shared
on the taproom patio with friends,
Katie says they want their local business to be not only a hangout for
locals, but a destination for those who
may live outside Dallas County.
"When Todd and I travel around
we'll speciﬁcally look for new breweries or wineries we haven't been
to," she says. "We count on people like us ﬁnding us and ﬁnding Buffalo."
or Todd Rock it's a meticulous process. The recipes have been ﬁne-tuned
and expanded from a 5-gallon batch to a 500-gallon tank. The labels and
recipes have been approved by the government and the product has been
bottled, canned or kegged ready for consumption signaling the end of this
"The ﬁrst time you get that brand new product that you came up with in
your head however long ago in your hands, that's a good day," he says. "Seeing
it in the professional packaging is rewarding."
Todd and his wife, Katie, along with family own and operate Leaky Roof
Meadery just off Highway 65 in Buffalo. The couple opened their doors in 2014
with a production facility and taproom which gives customers a chance to try
the different varieties of the libation straight from the source.
Education plays a big role in the husband-and-wife team's duties as many
people are being introduced to the product for the ﬁrst time. Mead isn't beer
nor is it wine, it's its own distinct beverage made by fermenting honey with
water at its most basic level.
"Even though it's not exactly the way we prefer, a lot of times the easiest
way to describe it to new customers is a honey wine," says Katie, who works as
a teacher during the day. "We'll serve them a ﬂight so they can try all of them
and we talk about how if beer is made from hops and wine is made from fruit,
mead is made from honey."
Todd serves as the head mead maker of Leaky Roof and brings a list of bona
ﬁdes. He completed the Master Brewer's program at the University of California, Davis, is a nationally ranked beer judge, has judged international mead
competitions and worked at breweries from California to Missouri.
Before Leaky Roof, he was working with a group to open a meadery in southwest Missouri. After putting in considerable effort preparing to open, setting up
distribution contacts and product design, the project fell through. "We already
had done all that work so we decided as a family it was something we wanted
to do," Todd says.
The Rocks chose mead so they could stand out and be unique in the market.
"When we were starting to think about doing this, brewery after brewery after
brewery were all opening up. We had to ﬁnd something to stand out against the
ocean of beers," Todd says. "While we started out as a very esoteric product,
we're starting to see more distributors take us on because they can put us on
a shelf and not cannibalize their existing brands."
The Southwest Electric Cooperative members selected Buffalo for a variety
of reasons. "It was important for us to be part of a community," Katie says. "We
live here, work here, our kids go to school here. We wanted to live in a town."
Their location about one-half mile from the intersection of Highways 32 and
65 also has a feature that Todd says is vital to his operations: a well. "Water is
a huge deal," he explains. "We have fresh well water so the water we're starting the process with is 100 percent consistent. Breweries and meaderies can
struggle with their recipes when they get water from multiple
Todd needs plenty of that water to crank out the line of meads
his customers enjoy. This past year, Todd and his team at Leaky
Roof produced about 1,000 barrels of mead using approximately
50,000 pounds of honey.
Todd's session meads typically take 8 weeks from start to ﬁnBuffalo
ish with higher gravity and specialty meads taking 8 months or
more. The water and honey is fermented down using a speciﬁc
amount of wine yeast so the predetermined alcohol content can
be achieved. At this point it is a basic mead and very stable. This
For more information on
Leaky Roof Meadery, visit
com, call 417-345-1233 or
ﬁnd them on Facebook.
Todd Rock helps customer Dan Wiekhorst choose one of the dozens of meads that he produces inside the 800-square-foot taproom at the Leaky Roof Meadery in Buffalo.