Pirates and mead arrive in Milford this month

Terry RogersHeadlines

Dave and Jen Wade with her father, John, in front of a pirate map mural on the wall of their meadery

A cozy pirate themed bar will feature originally crafted mead when What to Ferment Meadery opens in Milford on March 23.

Cannons jut out from under the bar, a large treasure map adorns one wall and one television will feature pirate-themed movies once the meadery officially opens.

“We just always wanted to run our own business,” David Wade said.” I’ve been brewing beer and different things at home for a long time and sharing it with friends and family. They kept saying, ‘You should sell this stuff; it is great,’ I always replied that doing that would take money.”

Then David received a notification from his employer, pharmaceutical giant Astra Zeneca that allowed him to pursue his dream.

“Lo and behold, the company sent a letter telling me my pension plan that I entered into ten years ago was fully funded and that I could do whatever I wanted with it,” David said.

David and his wife, Jen, talked for a long time about whether to use the funds to open a business.

They knew that if the business did not work out, they would have nothing to fall back on.

Finally, the couple decided to look for a suitable location.

“We hooked up with a gentleman named Zach who showed us places around Camden,” David said. “They were all just not the right location or were too much money.”

Sara Bluhm, who was then working in economic development for the City of Milford, connected them to a contractor.

“He showed us a site behind Big Lots that had not broken ground yet,” David said.

Then Bluhm mentioned she had family members in the mead business and that she had an idea what they needed for the business.

Bluhm introduced them to Zack King who had purchased a building downtown he was renovating for local businesses. King talked with the Wades about their needs and told them he may have a place for them, but it was small.

They thought the same thing when they saw it, but it was also hard to visualize because it was simply an empty room.

“We started writing things down on paper and finally realized that this would work,” David said. “We didn’t need anything really big to start out. We negotiated the rent and paid Zack to help with renovations.”

King built the bar, put in new flooring and added a fireplace.

“He even helped us with the tap system, the fermentation room and the windows,” David said.

With a pharmaceutical background, David understood the chemistry of brewing.

Jen explained that he and her father, John, were really good at coming up with unique recipes.

Interesting side note: When David first tried mead at a local meadery, he was not a fan.

“We went when they first opened and everything was rose petals and flowers,” David said. “I was mostly a beer drinker, only even drinking wine on special occasions, so it wasn’t my thing.”

Jen convinced him to go back a year later and he found that they offered more options in mead, including one made with hot peppers.

After that, David began experimenting with mead flavors, developing several of his own.

When What to Ferment Meadery -– which they refer to as WTF – opens, it will offer four mead options.

The opening menu which provides insight into the meads offered at WTF Meadery.

They will include a standard mead made with honey and water along with one named Six Cannons made with dark cherry, watermelon and lime.

There is a BBL Sour which is blueberry, banana and lemon plus Secrets in the Sauce, made with beet, ginger, turmeric and lemon.

Some of the recipes were created with John.

“We will soon offer one called Tropical Heat that is made with ghost pepper, pear and mango,” David said. “We hope to offer multiple flavors eventually as we know not all types will appeal to everyone.”

Originally from Wilmington, the couple moved to Lewes for a while before selling their house and moving to Milford.

They began brewing mead in small batches. David had always wanted to open a brewery and worked for Dogfish for about a year before returning to pharmaceuticals.

“The brewery market is so oversaturated here,” David said. “Jen inspired me to get into this because as a brewery you have to be really unique.”

When planning the meadery, David wanted a pirate theme because it would differentiate their business from others.

When they decided on the Milford location at 27 South Walnut Street , they were initially unaware that the mascot for the school district was a Buccaneer.

Now that they know, they plan to name one of their meads after the mascot.

“I was literally online looking up whether pirates drank mead, and found that they did,” David said. “The name of the company came to me in my sleep.”

Jen laughed, saying that she often uses the phrase that WTF stands for and, one night while he was sleeping, the name “What to Ferment” came to him.

The next day, when he told her, she realized it was the perfect choice.

“Because our place is so small, we will not be allowing anyone under 21 to come in,” David said. “We just don’t have room for children as they can’t sit at the bar. We also cannot have dogs. We will offer water, but we aren’t doing sodas or other types of beverages initially.”

The meadery plans a ribbon cutting at 2 p.m. March 22 with a grand opening March 23 from noon to 9 p.m. As of now, they plan to BE open March 28 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., March 29 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and March 30 from noon to 9 p.m.

What the Ferment will not offer food, but guests are welcome to bring their own, the Wades said in a Facebook post.

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