As the youngest master brewer in the United States, Dylan Sprouse began his love for mead between the ages of 16 and 17 back home in California.
“I started immediately with mead because it was recommended to me by a lot of home brewers simply because it was the easiest thing to brew. Quite literally it doesn’t require nearly as much effort as making beer does,” Sprouse tells PEOPLE. “And I wanted to try drinking alcohol with my friends, underage, without using an ID,” he jokes.
“I was also interested in the history and the lore,” he adds. “I don’t think there’s been a part of my life since I was 16 years old when I didn’t have a batch of mead brewing.”
The actor then attended NYU, where he studied video game design with a double minor in studio art and creative writing, and all through college, he brewed mead in his college dorm room, where he lived with the dorm’s resident adviser.
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“People would have thought that was a little risky,” the Suite Life of Zack and Cody alum says. “It was, but the truth is that I lived in a really relaxed dorm. My RA was a very dedicated med school student who was never in his room—always at the library. So he would never have found out. And he was a pretty lax guy. But I was brewing it all throughout.”
Now, the former Disney Channel actor runs All-Wise Meadery, which he founded in 2017 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. They sell mead through online orders and walk ins. In the next year, they plan to open a taproom with food, drinks and, of course, mead.
“I chose Brooklyn — number one — because the drinking culture is just better here,” Sprouse says. “Number two, water quality is better than California and just the infrastructure for owning a brewery, winery, distillery in New York City is way better than in L.A. It’s years more advanced. L.A. is still far behind in that.”
Currently, All-Wise has two mead blends: an original made from raw honey and an Oolong, made from both raw and fermented Chinese oolong tea leaves.
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However, just because he’s hands-on in operating the meadery doesn’t mean the child star has fully given up on acting. While his twin brother, Cole Sprouse, has taken on a role in the CW hit series Riverdale, Dylan has been working on a few indie films such as a Chinese opera fantasy, Turandot, and romantic comedy, Banana Split.
“Now that the meadery is open and everything is going at the same time, I’ve been taking more offers for stuff that’s more intriguing. As an actor it’s very easy to get typecast especially if you’re an identical twin,” he says. “If you wanted to do something that’s kind of weird, those never really pay the bills. They’re generally small venues—stuff that’s really just for yourself. But hat’s my bread and butter. That’s what I love to do.”
“I opened the meadery because it’s not a commissioned paycheck,” Sprouse adds. “It’s something that I love to do, and it’s not acting which is very important for creatives in general—to do other things.”
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Sprouse, who recently began dating model Barbara Palvin, has also undergone some physical changes recently, chopping off all of his long hair and losing 30 pounds by eating healthier.
“I told myself that at least once in my life I’m going to have a six pack,” Sprouse said. “So I did that, but now I realized I like the way I feel and I want to maintain that as much as possible. So I’m trying to be on the straight and narrow when it comes to eating food.”