Kamran Marwah is the founder of BEEoMETRY, a craft mead brewery in Geneva. After graduating from the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, he started an international career in the hotel industry in Europe and India, where he became the banquet manager of a hotel where many weddings were held. It was when one of his clients decided to offer his guests mead at his wedding that Kamran discovered "the oldest alcohol in the world", which he immediately became passionate about. In 2018 he landed an apprenticeship with Frank Golbeck, pioneer of the mead revival in Southern California and founder of Golden Coast Mead. Frank quickly becomes a friend and mentor and generously shares his knowledge and expertise with Kamran. With a wealth of knowledge of modern mead production methods, he took over the management of Switzerland in 2020 and founded BEEoMETRY in 2021 with the ambition to produce quality mead to raise awareness of this ancient beverage, which reflects the invaluable role of bees and the work of beekeepers.
We tasted it and it is delicious! Refreshing, subtle and original at the same time. See you every Thursdays from 4 to 8.30 pm at Marché des Grottes if you want to taste it too.
Mead is an alcoholic drink made from the pure fermentation of honey. It is also the oldest fermented drink. The production of mead dates back to the Neolithic period, i.e. 9,000 years before our era. Wine did not arrive until 4,000 years later. Also called the nectar of the gods, man would have consumed it long before, when mead was "made" naturally in flooded hives.
It is a drink made from water and honey, which is said to have originated in China. Traces of it can also be found in Egypt and especially in Greece, whose people gave it its letters of nobility; mead is the sacred drink of the Olympian gods.
In regions where vines are grown, wine overtook mead over the centuries, but in the northern regions, mead held out until the 16th century, when it gave way to beer. It has been revived in the United States and has been booming for the last 5 years and BEEoMETRY intends to make it appreciated by as many people as possible by offering a sustainable alternative to beer and other alcoholic soft drinks.
"Like grapes, honey is a deep reflection of a country, a region, a terroir."
The ecological dimension of the project, particularly through the promotion of the essential role of bees in the ecosystem, is central. In concrete terms, 27,000 litres of mead produced per year value the work of pollinating and foraging more than 8 million bees! BEEoMETRY does its best to create a mead that celebrates and highlights the indispensable work of bees. By processing the raw material of honey, they honour and value the bees that created it. Their work has a positive impact on the environment through the pollination and fertilisation of plants. Thus, by tasting BEEoMETRY mead, the consumer contributes to supporting beekeepers, increasing biodiversity and preserving the health of the soil and the local ecosystem.
To provide for their future honey needs they have started to build their own apiary. Their goal is to have a hundred BEEoMETRY hives that will contribute to enriching the flora of Geneva by producing 100% local honey . In addition, they also plan to plant melliferous trees, such as lime and chestnut, as part of the City of Geneva's greening plan.
Kamran was in cahoots with us a few days ago to talk about him and BEEoMETRY.
Karman, what made you fall in love with mead?
For several reasons. Firstly because I found it delicious! Secondly for its sustainability, mead has a much lower impact on the environment than beer or wine because it does not depend on monoculture or intensive agriculture. Mead depends on a healthy plant ecosystem, and that can be just virgin nature like a patch of forest on which we put bees that will pollinate, extract honey from this plant mass and in doing so they will contribute to improving biodiversity and soil health. Mead is also a drink full of history, legends and myths, which can be found in many cultures and geographies.
Is there really this cultural heritage dimension that interested you?
Absolutely, for example the expression "honeymoon" comes from mead. The Vikings when they got married were given mead for a month to promote fertility, appease the gods and receive the grace of the gods after the wedding. That's one of the thousand stories I can tell you!
Where does your desire to commit to a planet-friendly business come from?
I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur and I believe that sustainability is an integral part of business. You have to succeed in finding a business model that really has a positive impact at its core. That's the future of business in my opinion. It's not easy to do, but I think that mead is one of the activities that are regenerative for the planet because the more mead we consume, the more bees we will have and there will never be too many, it will always be positive.
The adjective "regenerative" that you used is very important I think! Companies must now focus on "net-positive" strategies to build a restorative and regenerative economy - it's a crucial issue!
What challenges do you face in your work?
My customers demand a lot of local honey. This is a challenge that I am trying to meet. Geneva honey is very expensive, so the challenge is to succeed in offering a product that remains affordable with local honey. I'm in the process of forging links with local producers and then the longer-term vision is to produce our own honey. So there's also the challenge of gently converting ourselves into beekeepers as well as being hydromelers and starting to produce the raw material we need to produce the alcohol, just like the winemakers.
Another challenge was that mead has a thousand facets, it's like beer or wine, you can make it more or less alcoholic, with or without bubbles, with or without fruit and spices, fortified or not, very sweet or very dry. There are really a thousand avenues to follow and I chose to make what is called a "thirsty mead", a style of mead that originated in Southern California where it is very hot. I wanted to offer this as an alternative to beer, which is also glutene-free, so it doesn't bloat the stomach, and which you can easily drink in the sun for an aperitif and drink 2 or 3 of them without being sickened. The idea was also to offer it on draught, at the tap, on the one hand to increase the visibility of our product but also because it is more rational in terms of packaging and better for the environment.
What is the one anti-sustainable action you find hard to give up?
I think it's having everything in bottles. It's greener to have cans, both in terms of transport and recycling, it's cheaper too. There are a lot of advantages to having cans but it's hard to change consumer perception: a can looks more cheap than a bottle and people are willing to pay more for a glass bottle. So I'm finding it hard to give up the bottle but I'm going to have to do it soon and it will involve a very nice can design.
Personally, I would say that I do not carpool enough, I am still too often alone in the car.
What should tomorrow's world look like?
A world where profits are not the ultimate goal, a world where there is no excessive capitalism, where the idea is not to make money just to make money. A world where the primary notion would be that doing good is good for business: all the good that the company does is the fuel for it to grow.
Thank you very much Karman!
Thank you Marie!
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