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Featured Interview – Leaky Roof Meadery’s Todd Rock

Leaky Roof Meadery
Exterior of Leaky Roof Meadery in Buffalo, Missouri

As you may have noticed, Leaky Roof Mead is now out and about town in its fancy new cans.  For a little background, I had a brief conversation with Leaky Roof Meadery owner and head meadmaker, Todd Rock.

As a lot of readers probably know, Leaky Roof Meadery had its start in some shaky history.  Rock and his partners in crime, Jhett Collins and  Andrew (Skippy) Steiger,  were involved in another meadmaking venture which never launched.

“I and the rest of the guys here at Leaky Roof, Jhett and Skippy, were working for a different investment group building a Meadery. That group of owners ran into personal/financial/legal trouble and never finished opening the business,” says Rock.

 

Leaky Roof's Tap Room sports some unique tap handles.
Leaky Roof’s Tap Room sports some unique tap handles.

Rock, Collins, and Steiger were suddenly out of work, and the meadery they had been working hard to launch seemed doomed to never get off the ground.  They didn’t let that stop them, however.  The three friends sat down and considered their options.  Eventually, they decided to start their own meadery.  All they needed was financing, and they could make their dream come to life.

“When we sat down and thought it out we decided we had everything we needed to start the venture, and we worked with my parents to secure an SBA loan.  From there we just saw the project through to completion,” said Rock.

LRM Tap Room
A Railroad bell sits atop the bar in the Leaky Roof Tap Room

According to the Leaky Roof Meadery website, the meadery is named for the Leaky Roof Railroad, which was really named the Kansas City, Clinton, and Springfield Railroad (KCC&S, get it?), which was originally built to haul coal, marble, and clay tile out of Henry County to the commercial hubs of KC and Springfield.  The railroad never ran to Buffalo, Missouri, where the Leaky Roof Meadery hangs its hat.

Not that Buffalo didn’t try.  Dallas County did partner with the Laclede and Fort Scott Railroad to run a line through Dallas and Laclede Counties, and the Railroad issued bonds to shareholders.  It even built its share of the railroad between Buffalo and Bolivar.  Unfortunately, the railroad went bankrupt before it could link into the KCC&S line, and the bondholders never got paid.  County officials eventually found themselves wanted and on the run from Federal Marshals.  Eventually, the case went to the Supreme Court.

Just like for the KCC&S Railroad in Buffalo, there have been some serious trials and some hard times for the meadery so far, including some trouble getting label approvals in Missouri and a certain government shutdown that delayed the launch of their mead by several months.

Even with the delays, however, Leaky Roof Meadery officially opened its doors on January 3rd, 2014 and initiated draft sales of all of their meads in Arkansas and the KCC&S Cyser in Missouri two weeks later.  That was followed by the availability of Berry Picker.

Berry Picker Mead in Glass
A pint of Berry Picker in a Leaky Roof Pint Glass. Get both at the meadery in Buffalo, Missouri.

The Missouri label approval issue is why you can find every one of their meads in current production available on tap in Arkansas, but you can only find KCC&S Cyser and Berry Picker in Missouri.

“[The difference is due to] differences in State Brand Registration procedures. The state of Missouri puts us in a very tricky position in relation to the TTB and FDA and getting the proper paperwork can be nearly impossible,” Rock said.

Even with that trouble, Leaky Roof has maintained its large variety of available meads at their meadery in Buffalo, Missouri, where they also regularly feature live music.  Currently, that variety includes eight different meads:

  • KCC&S Cyser – Apple Cider/Mead blend
  • Berry Picker – Berry Melomel (fruit mead)
  • High Dry and Dusty – Ginger Mead
  • Spooklight – Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • B & C – Buckwheat Honey and Cherries
  • Bond Burner – Jalapeno and Pineapple
  • Gandy Dancer – Honey
  • Doghouse – Sour Cherry Cyser

With all of the growth in the craft beverage industry, it just made sense to Rock, Collins, and Steiger to focus on mead. I asked Rock, with all of the emphasis on craft beer, why choose mead?

Rock laughed and responded, “Probably all of the emphasis on craft beer. Besides beer the rest of the beverage world is also seeing a renaissance as craft liquors, meads, ciders, perry are all being reexamined and brought to drinkers attention. Mead is a fantastic beverage with an enormousness range of styles and flavors to work with and you don’t have to compromise drink-ability for complexity or in order to stand out in the market.”

They show no signs of slowing down, either.  On August 5th, they launched their KCC&S Cyser and Berry Picker in cans, and they hope to have a lot more coming your way in cans soon.

Tasting Room Staff
They are waiting to pour you mead. Seriously. They’re probably still standing there like that. Go give them something to do.

It depends on what labels get approved and when but yes we hope to see Bond Burner make a brief appearance and eventually High Dry and Dusty will be a year round can. We hope we can release Spooklight this fall but still no word on approval.  If the heavens align properly we might see a little bit of Bond Burner by Labor Day weekend,” said Rock.  

Other than cans, you can look for some other fun things out at the meadery, as well.

“[We’re looking forward to] the release of “The Caller”, our Bourbon Barrel Imperial Gandy Dancer, on October 3rd. We’re planning on having The Ozark Mountain Maybelles and The Hamburger Cows out and will have a food truck out that day, as well,” said Rock.

As for the next few year?  Well, Rock’s more focused on more immediate things.

For now we will be happy if we can get approval for the rest of our seasonal labels to run a complete year next year and see those seasonals in cans on the market. Once we have that under our belt we have plans to eventually expand our facilities and Distribution. We have already been approached with offers to distribute in Kansas and Louisiana.”

So, as you can see, the railroad has come to Buffalo, Missouri, and it’s not slowing down.

Looking to get your mouth on some Leaky Roof Mead?  It’s available at Hy-Vee, Price Cutter, and Brown Derby stores.  Still can’t find it? Ask your local beer and wine retailer.  If you want to try it on tap, use this handy map to find some near you:

Leaky Roof Exterior
The Meadery Exterior sports this handy sign. It makes it easier to spot in a crowd.

Leaky Roof Meadery Address:
1306 S. Azalea St. Buffalo, MO 65622

Phone:
417-345-1233

Hours:
Sun: Closed
Mon: Closed
Tue: 4:00pm-7:00 pm
Wed: 4:00-7:00 pm
Thu: 4:00-8:00 pm
Fri: 4:00-10:00 pm
Sat: 1:00-10:00 pm

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