Alcoholic samples at the Farmers Market.
From the July, 2021 issue
A new artisanal product popped up among the flats of flowers and greenhouse lettuces at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market this spring: Ypsilanti Township-based Maniacal Mead began selling its honey- and fruit-based wines--and handing out free samples.
Aside from food trucks and special events, makers of alcoholic beverages haven't been allowed to sell and sample at the market, says manager Stefanie Stauffer. But Michigan changed its rules to permit small wine producers to sell at farmers' markets in 2014. Maniacal obtained a permit from the Michigan Liquor Control commission, then received approval from the market and from the Ann Arbor Police Department, says Patrick Echlin, one of the co-owners of the three-year-old business.
Why Maniacal and not Blom Meadworks, just a few blocks down Fourth Ave.? They had hoped to have them, Stauffer says, but it turned out that Blom was too successful: its sales volume no longer qualifies as a small producer.
Maniacal offers shot-glass-sized tastes of eight to ten varieties. Tasters are required to show ID, and Echlin says the reaction has been mainly positive. "Some people were not into it," he says, "but most people were surprised to see us there and happy to have that variety."
"We've known that once people try it, they're more likely to buy it, Echlin says. If they do, bottles range from $13 to $50.
[Originally published in July, 2021.]
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