Todd J. Rock, Leaky Roof’s head mead maker, was born and raised in Hillsborough, New Jersey. The University of Missouri-Columbia brought him to Missouri in 1999. After several years of hanging around Columbia, home brewing and enjoying his youth, Todd was lucky enough to meet his wife Katie, also a Mizzou graduate. The two of them moved to Anchorage, Alaska so that Todd could pursue a degree in Anthropology at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. It was in Anchorage that Todd’s love of home brewing was rekindled, and ignited by winning several awards for his concoctions. As a result, Todd was inspired to attend school for brewing. The following year, he attended UC Davis’s Master Brewers Program. This lead Todd to a job as cellerman for Hangar 24 Brewery in Redlands, CA. With one young son and another on the way, Todd and Katie decided that they would like to move back to Missouri. Thanks to Mother’s Brewing Company in Springfield, they were granted that opportunity. Todd served as the Lead Packaging Tech at Mother’s until a meadery in Rogersville offered him a job as head mead maker. His position there lead Todd and his family to feel that opening their own production facility—something they had always wanted to do—was the next logical step in Todd’s career. Todd and Katie live with their children, Donovan, Jake, and Delaney, in Buffalo. Katie works in the meadery office and helps to plan our events.

Jhett Collins mans our taproom and is in charge of public relations. He was born in Springfield, MO and shortly thereafter moved to the small town of Rogersville. He spent all of his youth here in the Ozarks and is still here raising his own family. Over the years he has developed a strong attachment to his home and says he has always had a feeling that the Ozarks are a special place. Jhett discovered his love for mead early in life and has dedicated a great deal of his time and energy over the years to learning more about the beverage, educating others, and getting involved in bringing mead to his home here in the Ozarks. It was while working as an operations manager for a startup meadery in the area that he met Todd and through him, Andrew. These days Jhett is putting his infectious love of all things mead to work educating consumers and promoting the Leaky Roof.

Andrew Steiger, our assistant mead maker, was raised near Washington, MO in the small town of New Haven. Growing up in a rural area, Andrew (or Skippy, as we call him) worked on the family farm. He graduated from Washington Senior High School and went on to attend college at East Central Community College, and then the University of Missouri-Columbia. It was there that he fell in love with the art of home brewing. Skip’s appreciation for microbreweries led him to try a variety of fine alcoholic beverages, the latest of which is mead. He has spent the last couple of years learning the ins and outs of the mead community. It has taken him in a new direction and he has spent time making mead and experimenting with different honey varietals, fruits, and herbs. During this time, Skippy began working with the Mother’s Packaging Department, as well as another local meadery. We are looking forward to this new chapter with Skippy.

A Brief History of The Leaky Roof Railroad

The Leaky Roof Railroad’s real name was the Kansas City, Clinton and Springfield Railroad (KCC&S). It ran northwest out of Springfield to Ash Grove and then North to Osceola, Clinton, Garden City and on into Kansas before it reached Kansas City. Originally built to haul coal, marble, and clay tile out of Henry County Missouri to the major commercial hubs of Springfield and Kansas City, over the years it would become a lifeline connecting the region, hauling agricultural products (particularly strawberries, flour, passengers and even the circus). For us the Leaky Roof represents a golden age of Southwest Missouri and an extinct way of life that gave this area the color and history it has today. Many of our labels and images are inspired by this history and our goals as a company in this region hope to revive a little of that industry and agriculture. For more information visit the Truman Area Community Networks page on the history of the Leaky Roof. (Click Here)

A Brief History of the Railroad in Dallas County

The railroad never ran to Dallas County or Buffalo, MO. In fact Buffalo, MO remains one of the largest land locked communities in the country that never benefited from the presence of a railroad. The reasons behind this are both interesting and 100% pure Missouri. In the 1870’s Dallas County did partner with the Laclede and Fort Scott Railroad in order to run a line from Fort Scott Kansas through Dallas and Laclede County and into Lebanon, Missouri. Interestingly enough this railroad would have intersected the Leaky Roof outside of Walnut Grove, MO.  The county issued railroad bonds to shareholders and built its share of the rail bed along Route 32 between Bolivar and Buffalo. Unfortunately the Railroad went bankrupt before it reached Buffalo and the track was never laid. The county, having never received a railroad, refused to repay their bonds when they came due. This situation deteriorated over the years as county officials found themselves wanted and on the run from Federal Marshals. The case of the unpaid bonds eventually went before the Supreme Court and the County was forced into a repayment plan. The last of the repayment was made in 1940.

Company Mission, how this all ties together

For our part our connection to the Leaky Roof Railroad begins with our early days of planning. While looking for suitable locations for the meadery we examined several commercial properties for rent. Most of these places were along the railroad tracks running into Springfield from the Northwest. While looking for a name we began to read about the history of the railroad in Springfield and in the area in general. Finally we stumbled on the nickname for an old railroad running out of Springfield and up through Ash Grove. This was the Leaky Roof. What is more, it had a vibrant history linked to the area. At the time the properties we were looking at also looked like they probably had leaky roofs. Many did. While we fell in love with the name and the idea of working with a railroad theme, our dream property became available in Buffalo, a town, which not only wasn’t on the Leaky Roof line, but had never had a railroad at all. Instead of changing the name we decided that this was perfect. Ultimately our company hopes to work with the local community in order to source more and more of our raw materials such as honey, berries and apples from local sources. Much like the Leaky Roof we want to be an outlet for local agriculture to once again thrive in the area. In the days of the Frisco and the Leaky Roof Southwest Missouri small agriculture thrived. The area was once famous for its strawberries, blackberries, apples and grapes, all of which are essential to our products. In pre-prohibition days these crops were brought to the railway depots, loaded into cars full of ice and hauled to the large cities. It is this type of community interlinking we would like to promote as we grow with the community. As such we decided our train image was perfect as we truly wish to bring the railroad to Buffalo, MO and indeed the Missouri Southwest.

Mead Education

When you mention “mead” to people you are certain to get a variety of responses from “Meat?” to “Is that some sort of beer?” Altogether the underlying theme is that of confusion about what mead really is. So to start, let me give you the world’s most basic definition of mead. Mead is an alcoholic product created from the fermentation of honey and water by yeast. Mead at its most basic is simply honey, yeast and water. To this base you can add an unlimited variety of products to produce a variety of beverages. You can make a blend of mead and beer and this would be called braggot. A mix of mead and other fruits would be called a melomel. Specific melomels are cyser, made from the combination of mead and cider, and pyment, made from a blend of grapes and mead. Besides the addition of fruit, mead can have spices added for what is called a methyglin. If you take a pyment and add spices you have technically made a hippocras, which was a beverage created by the Greek physician Hippocrates. Hippocrates believed this concoction could cure numerous ailments and was essential to proper health. Fortunately it is also incredibly tasty. This type of classification can go on almost indefinitely, depending on the ingredients, and if you would like to know more I recommend Ken Schramm’s outstanding book “The Complete Meadmaker”. No matter what you add the important thing is that any of these beverages are, in fact, meads and their common denominator is still that they are an alcoholic beverage based on the fermentation of honey and water by yeast.

After you understand this basic fact about mead it is important to understand that mead is an incredibly versatile beverage. Many people think mead is purely a very sweet, very strong, honey based wine. However, this is simply one facet of what mead can be. Mead can be presented in a wide variety of styles and tastes. Mead can be anywhere from dry to sweet, strong to weak in alcoholic content, and flat or carbonated. The basic rubric looks like this:

This should give you a good idea of the range that mead can cover and what you will need to know to understand the nature of our meads.

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