Behind Bars: Uprising Meadworks

Erica Thompson
Jennifer Ganoe and Nate Rhone

As British prime minister on the winning side of World War II, Sir Winston Churchill is one of the most significant figures of the 20th century. Born about 20 years later, Howard Hughes was a film tycoon who also broke records as a pilot. The two men have at least one thing in common: They both inspired drink names at Uprising Meadworks, which opens Friday, Aug. 3, on the East Side.

“When we came up with Uprising Meadworks, it's like challenging the status quo and the idea that all you have is beer, wine [and] liquor,” co-owner and CEO Jennifer Ganoe said in the meadery, which is adjacent to Actual Brewing. “We named [our meads] after people and history that have done something to change the way you think.”

Inspired by the red-haired Churchill's nickname, the Copper Knob is mead infused with ginger and lime. The Spruce Goose, named for Hughes' large, famously wooden plane, is flavored with cherries and lemon. All available meads, which are alcoholic drinks made from honey, are produced in the small onsite facility, which doubles as a taproom.

Ganoe and co-owner and head mead maker Nate Rhone met at Ohio State University Hospital's emergency room; Rhone was a paramedic and Ganoe was a nurse. Rhone homebrewed for years, and gained positive feedback when he ventured into meads.

“I miss parts of it … the critical thinking, the thinking on your feet,” said Rhone, who injured his shoulder from years of lifting patients. “I don't miss the stress. … This place was a godsend to move into a different area where I could still [solve problems].”

“It's funny how much of an overlap there is,” said Ganoe, who now works in healthcare administration, helping hospitals improve patient safety. “We're dealing with stuff on a microbiology type of level [at the meadery].”

Uprising Meadworks prides itself on using locally sourced honey and fresh ingredients to create a sulfate-free product. “It's definitely harder, but to us, it's a better product in the end, and that's what we care about,” Rhone said.

Once Uprising Meadworks opens its doors, it will help push Columbus forward in the industry, which is dominated locally by Brothers Drake Meadery.

“A lot of people just don't know what [mead] is,” Ganoe said. “Or if they've heard of it, they've heard of it from Renaissance fairs or think it's a Viking thing.”

Also, many craft breweries do not produce mead, given the special licensing requirements, she added.

“We are very lucky in the fact that we've had Brothers Drake,” Rhone said. “They've done a lot of the education for us.”

“Every brewery around has their own little flavor and their own take,” Ganoe said. “We think there's plenty of room in mead for that, too.”