Originally published by the New York Post
From child star to … hipster Brooklyn brewer? It’s not a typical path, but it makes sense to former Disney Channel darling Dylan Sprouse.
Like acting, “brewing is a creative medium that touches the audience very tangibly,” Sprouse, who played Zack on the Disney Channel’s “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody,” tells The Post.
Today, the 25-year-old is a co-founder at Williamsburg’s All-Wise Meadery, which specializes in making mead, aka honey wine. As Sprouse brews, he says, he leans on “that same stuff I learned to do as an actor: to entertain, to play towards an audience.”
He’s spent a long time honing those skills. The California kid, who moved to New York in 2011, has been acting since before he could walk. At 8 months old, he landed his first TV gig: a shared part with his identical twin Cole on ABC’s “Grace Under Fire.” His career took off in 2005, when “The Suite Life” debuted; a spinoff series, “The Suite Life on Deck,” followed three years later.
Dylan and Cole Sprouse starred in the Disney Channel show “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.”
“Working from that young of an age is definitely a double-edged sword,” Sprouse says. By seventh grade, his crazy schedule forced him to trade traditional schooling for a private tutor. And he certainly didn’t have time for extracurriculars.
But when he was 16, he discovered one worth squeezing in. His father, who has what Sprouse calls a “European mindset” toward alcohol, gave him a home- brewing kit as a gift — and Sprouse was immediately hooked.
“I don’t think there was a moment from 17 years old up until now that I have not had [something] brewing in my home,” he says. Mead was Sprouse’s first-ever boozy experiment, and it quickly became a favorite. “It’s relatively simple” to put together, he says, and it even worked with his busy schedule: He could prep a batch in an hour and a half, leave it to ferment for two months and come back to try the results.
Sprouse’s passion for mead-making stuck with him over the next several years, which brought a lot of changes for him and his twin. “My brother and I were fried, quite frankly,” Sprouse says. So from 2011 to 2015, the twins took a break from acting to attend NYU, where Sprouse studied video-game design, creative writing and figurative painting.
‘I don’t think there was a moment from 17 years old up until now that I have not had [something] brewing in my home.’
But brewing still had the strongest hold on him. So after graduating, he took a job at Kings County Distillery, a bourbon distillery in DUMBO. (His brother Cole returned to Hollywood to star on the CW’s “Riverdale.”)
After learning the industry ropes, Sprouse decided to venture out on his own. In 2016, he teamed up with his college friend Matt Kwan and fellow Disney alum Doug Brochu (“Sonny With a Chance”) to form All-Wise Meadery, which launched in May.
The space, located across the street from the hip William Vale hotel, includes a brewing facility and a bar that will open to the public this fall. Until then, Sprouse’s brews — such as All-Wise Oolong Mead, which is infused with oolong tea, and All-Wise Show Mead, which is dry and aged with oak — are available online at AllWiseMeadery.com. The first batch ships at the beginning of June.
Although Sprouse is totally committed to the meadery right now — “I will be hands-on every day,” he says — he’s not ready to quit acting altogether. Ideally, he tells The Post, All-Wise Meadery will function as his main source of income, allowing him to take the less-well-paying indie-film roles that are “more artistically in my ballpark.” (His last role was in the 2017 horror film “Dismissed,” but he has several short films in production.)
Whether or not his dreams pan out the way he pictures them, Sprouse’s mead-making is bringing him a sense of fulfillment. “The things that you do are your prayer,” he says. “Having my friends and loved ones drink and talk and be merry is spiritual, to me.”