Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #1105, 10 June 2004

Mead Lover's Digest #1105 Thu 10 June 2004


Forum for Discussion of Mead Making and Consuming
Dick Dunn, Digest Janitor



Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1104, 4 June 2004 (Sharon Labchuk)
Ume melomel ("Paul Shouse")
mead and homebrew competitions (Jim Johnston)
Residual Sweetnes with bottle carbonation? ("Chris Nixon")
Weekend of June 19 Events to consider ("Julia Herz")
Blueberries Blueberries (chris herrington)
Re: Mead in BJCP competitions (Dick Dunn)


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Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1104, 4 June 2004
From: Sharon Labchuk <>
Date: Fri, 04 Jun 2004 22:59:26 -0300

At 10:32 AM 04/06/04 -0600, you wrote:

>Subject: spring honey
>From: "Aaron Ardle" <>
>Date: Sun, 30 May 2004 19:32:05 -0400



>i'm trying to buy very fresh honey this year. this year the varieties
>that i have found that are very fresh are cranberry, black locust, and
>palmetto. i would like to hear opinions from anyone that has experience
>with these varieties of honey.

What do you mean by "fresh"? I'm a beekeeper and I've never used this term
to describe honey.


Subject: Ume melomel
From: "Paul Shouse" <>
Date: Sat, 05 Jun 2004 11:19:25 +0900


I've just started my first batch of mead since joining this list. First, let
me tell you a little about my brewing philosophy. I very strongly believe that
any practice that reduces or modifies the natural flavor of the honey used in
brewing is best avoided. I like to mix honey with cold brewing water, and
don't see any practical need to boil or even pasteurize honey since a strong
pitch of yeast will overwhelm any other flora present. I also dislike to add
any sort of chemical to a must, and I've had some bad experiences with
chemical yeast nutrients. My favorite recipe is water, honey and yeast; and
nothing else. I consider anything else as cheating, or evidence of serious
flaws in brewing procedure. I know others have different opinions on these
subjects, but those are the ones I have and have been successful with so far.
This new one is a departure from my usual meads, and largely inspired by
information I've found here. The recipe is fairly simple: 3 kg. of dark
wildflower honey mixed with warm brewing water to make 3 gallons at OG 1084.
The differences are the yeast and fruit additions.

I'm using Lavlin EC-1118 for the first time. So far, I am very impressed, the
ferment is extremely active and started much more quickly than my previous
liquid cultures. Living in Japan, I am at the far end of a long supply line,
and storing liquid yeasts for long periods has been a problem. I pitched the
rehydrated yeast in a starter, but after seeing how strong it is, I think that
will be unnecessary in the future. Since I am using fresh fruit in the must, I
have not added any other yeast nutrient.

For my first attempt at melomel I chose ume, the fruit used in making
traditional Japanese plum wine. Although the word 'ume' is usually translated
as 'plum' the fruits are actually a type of apricot, usually picked while
still green and immature. The ones I used are about the size of grapes and are
readily available in supermarkets at this time of year. As you would imagine,
they are hard and extremely sour but have a very strong and pleasant (when
sweetened) fruit flavor and aroma.

Since this is very much an experiment, I am unsure how the ferment will
proceed, but I plan to rack the must into a secondary in about a week to ten
days to remove the fruit solids. Depending on the strength of the fermentation
and the sweetness of the must I will probably add another kilogram of honey
then. Tertiary fermentation/aging will no doubt be necessary. Since EC-1118 is
a strong fermenter with a high alcohol tolerance I expect the mead to be far
too dry to offset the sour fruit flavors if I didn't add more. My goal is to
have a complex semi-dry meolmel with strong fruity flavors and aroma,
underlined by the wildflower honey flavors.

Also unusual is the timing of this batch. I have never started a mead this
early in the year before, but using fresh ume gives me little choice. The
indoor temperature is still practical for fermentation, especially in the
primary. As the weather gets hotter I will move the carboy to a cooler spot
under the house. Depending on the results of this batch, I will start a strong
sparkling mead using EC-1118 next fall. Next spring, will lead a group of
friends into the local mountains to hunt for blooming wild sakura trees, to
collect enough flowers to make a cherry blossom floramel.


  • -Paul Shouse


Subject: mead and homebrew competitions
From: Jim Johnston <>
Date: Fri, 04 Jun 2004 22:25:13 -0500

I also compete in the dog show world, where the breeds are judged
individually, the best of each is sent to the group ring to compete for
group placements, and the winners of the groups compete for best in
show. Obviously, we couldn't do this sort of thing in beer
competitions, but we could take on some of the other things that they
do in judging. While rare, it is possible for a judge to withhold a
ribbon if the entry or entries are not up to the standard of the breed.

In theory, the judge should be judging each entry against the breed

standard, a written and elaborate description of the perfect example.
In a homebrew or mead competition, the judges should be judging against
the standard for the category it is entered in. In this regard, it is
acceptable to have a category with only one entry as it would be judged
against a standard. Does the entry fit the characteristics of the
style in all regards? If not, then the subjective portion of what each
judge values more comes into play in their selections. If a judge
values clarity over body, then on that day the clearer beer or mead
wins. Styles could be grouped, and the best of show would have to be
chosen from the final group winners. In the end, however, it is still
the subjective opinion of the judges that determine the winner.


I have a tremendous respect for the people who organize homebrew
competitions and those who judge them. I also have great respect for
those who run these lists and tolerate the unseen questions and
complaints that people post to them. If only most people would
understand how time consuming that becomes.


Contemplating the Mysteries of Man and Mead, One Glass at a Time

Subject: Residual Sweetnes with bottle carbonation?
From: "Chris Nixon" <>
Date: Sat, 5 Jun 2004 14:46:55 -0600

I would like to produce a lower alcohol (say 6-10% or so) mead and have it
bottle carbonate with maximum residual sweetness. Is this possible? What
yeast might accomplish this?
I made a kiwi/strawberry mel last year with ec-1118 bottle carbonated, it is
too dry for my liking.

Subject: Weekend of June 19 Events to consider
From: "Julia Herz" <>
Date: Mon, 7 Jun 2004 14:13:43 -0600

Hello everyone in Mead Land! I wanted to put out the word that there
are two great events coming up for anyone who would like to spend time
discussing mead:

June 18-19, the University of Nebraska Entomology Department is putting
on a Value Added Workshop that will cover Beekeeping, Mead Production
(Home and Commercial), Soap Making and more. Ken Schramm and myself are
among the list of included speakers. Gotta love a university that pays
attention to mead! For information on this very affordable event go to and click on the link on the left side of screen

The American Homebrewers Association National Conference is June 17-19
in Las Vegas, Nevada. These guys always put on an amazing event (this is
the 26th year) and you can bet that many people in the know about mead
will be there to talk with, drink with and share with.

Julia Herz – November 5 and 6, 2004

Subject: Blueberries Blueberries
From: chris herrington <>
Date: Tue, 8 Jun 2004 19:06:32 -0700 (PDT)

What a pleasant weekend it has been. The blueberries
are ripening on the bushes and I picked to hearts
content…this weekend, there's next weekend of
course. The majority are still green here in
Louisiana, but at least the first wave came in.
They're only 50 cents/ Lb when you pick. I had
purchased a grape press in preparation for this with
the expectation I could press the blueberries but when
I placed the first load in a mesh bag and began to
press them, I couldn't extract the juice in a manner I
would call efficient. If anyone is efficient with a
table grape press, please tell me where my application
went wrong. I ended up stuffing the berries into a
blender and pureed them, all 15 lbs. and dropped them,
pulp and all, straight into a waiting 13.5% mead; no
boil, no heat and threw in a pre-started Lalvin D47.
Fermentation was apparant within 3 or 4 hours. I know
I could risk infection but with the high alcohol and a
rolling starter I figure the odds are good against it.
How long should the pulp remain in the ferment?

Subject: Re: Mead in BJCP competitions
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: Wed, 09 Jun 2004 00:23:24 -0600 (MDT)

In response to a couple of replies to my musing about BUZZ Off and mead in
BJCP competitions…BTW, I'm not picking on BUZZ Off, but as I said in my
earlier note, the timing is awkward-at-best for the BUZZ Off results wrt
the discussion about mead in beer competitions.

Christopher Clair <>, and the organizer of BUZZ Off, wrote:
> Dick wrote:
> "*one* category for mead *and* cider?!? Hey, why not lump them all in with
> table 16 Lambic/Sour/Fruit)?"


> For anyone who has not organized a competition, one of the greatest
> challenges is to organize the judging tables…

You bet! It can easily be a no-win situation.

>…This depends largely on the
> number of entries collected in each category, the number of judges, etc.
> This year, we had 11 meads and only 3 ciders. Could we have moved ciders in
> with table 16 Lambic/Sour/Fruit and let meads stand alone?…
[later comment indicated the numbers were 11 mead, 4 cider, which adds up

My suggestion to lump them all in a beer category was, of course, cynical.
I'm trying to make a point. While I don't specifically agree with the
folks who say that mead doesn't belong in these [BJCP] competitions, they
ARE showing up a problem.

Turn the tables and think about it. Imagine having 210 meads and 11 beers,
so that you have to put Light American Lager, Porter, Barleywine, IPA,
Bock, and so on…all in one flight! Imagine also that none of your judges
are specifically required to be qualified to judge beer, so it's up to you
as the organizer to find a few judges who have a little experience with
beer. Imagine that you get a judge who tastes a barleywine and says that
it's way too heavy and kinda sweet, because he's never had a barleywine.
THAT's what you're doing to the meadmakers.

And I don't even want to get into the implications for cider…that's over
the fence in the Cider Digest.

> … But remember, they are
> not judged head to head but rather as an example of their style (best
> traditional mead, best cyser, best porter, etc.). At least that is what a
> good judge is *supposed* to do…

BUT (more about this below) in the case of mead, how are they going to be
judged against their style criteria, if they're all in a pile?

> And he [that's me] finished with:
> "If mead and cider were collapsed into a single category, presumably it's
> because there weren't enough entries to keep them separate. This *seems* at
> odds with the argument that BJCP covers these categories because people want
> to enter them."


> Again, that is just how it worked out for us but we had as mentioned before
> 11 different meads and 4 ciders. If memory serves, we had a similar
> breakdown last year but reverse (many ciders, few meads). We also only had
> 4 Scottish ales and 8 Brown ales so we created a "Dark Ale" table. It all
> depends on what people have and want to enter.

But, then, are these competitions really serving the meadmakers and cider-
makers…or merely throwing them a sop? Is it merely a placeholder until
mead and cider competitions can come into their own, at which time the mead
and cider categories in BJCP competitions will wither? (I don't know!)

Vince Galet <> wrote:

> I would like to argue that mead does belong to BJCP competitions and I'd
> like to make some important points.
> 1. Homebrewers happen to make mead too, that's why BJCP and related
> competitions started to take mead into account…

Yes, but be careful with the logic. Many homebrewers happen to make bread
too! I've argued your side, pointing out (recently!) that if it weren't
for the homebrewing community, mead would still be obscure. But it doesn't
quite follow that homebrew competitions must include mead.

>…If competitions didn't
> include mead, mead makers wouldn't have many places to enter their pride
> and joy and have it objectively evaluated.

That argument is OK if (as earlier) the brewing competitions don't mind
if meadmakers go away when more mead competitions arise.

> 2. BJCP competitions brings mead awareness among homebrewers (who may
> otherwise only make opr drink beer). Well tentatively: I organized of a
> BJCP competition a few months ago. Mead being my beverage of choice, I
> tried to develop this category by encouraging brewers to enter not only
> beer but also meads (and ciders). I sent a letter to more than 30
> meaderies and asked for a modest contribution (sponsorship) of ANY kind (a
> bottle of mead , a T-shirt, a poster would have been great) to be given as
> prizes and again give mead some momentum in this type of competition. I
> didn't get anything. So much for the enthusiasm of the mead community.

Rephrase: So much for the enthusiasm of the mead community <<in your BJCP
competition>>. This is actually arguing against your point. If the
meaderies aren't interested in supporting your competition, it doesn't mean
they aren't interested in ANY competition. It could well mean that they
want to put their energy and promotional $ into events oriented toward mead
rather than beer.

BJCP must be willing to let go of mead if it moves away. (Is that
happening? I don't know!)

> 3. Yes, the reason for mixing ciders, cysers, melomels, metheglyns and
> traditionmal meads as 1 category is because organizers HAVE to. When you
> have 10-15 entries from all categories combined, you don't have the
> choice. If you have 2 ciders out of 300 entries, what do you do? Give them
> 1st and 2nd place of the cider category? In my case, since we had more
> entries this year, we were able to separate ciders from meads. But it was
> only based on the number of entries because it makes sense.

Again, if you don't have enough entries to justify separate categories, it
says you don't have the interest. You folks are saying "we do this because
the brewers are really interested in these other beverages so they need a
place to enter them." Then you say "we have to collapse the categories
because we can't get enough entries–there isn't enough interest."
Pick one! You can't have it both ways.

> 3. If you consider that BJCP competitions don't have to contain the word
> "beer" that offenses your mead identity, call them "homemade beverage
> competitions"…

This is an oft-repeated argument of the BJCP advocates–that there's
nothing magic about the word "beer" in the title, that it's about other
fermented beverages too, and some folks (not putting words in Vince's
mouth!) will argue that they all compete equally.

It's just not true.

Look at the whole name: Beer Judge Certification Program. It's not just
the word "beer"; it's that this is a certification program for judging
competitions. Go look at the qualifications. You have to know a lot about
beer…the testing really is impressive. BUT…what do you have to know
about mead (and cider) to be qualified as a BJCP judge?

Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Nichts. Get it? You can climb to the top of
BJCP judging without ever having so much as tasted a mead or a cider,
let alone knowing about them or being able to tell the difference between
a sweet lavender-woodruff metheglin and a dry Somerset cider!

BJCP is about beer. Yeah, I'm even working on revising the cider styles,
but that's all somewhat of a side issue until BJCP decides that cider and
mead are important enough to actually TEST the judges on them.

> 4. I would argue that those who don't want to associate with beer because
> it's too different from beer are snobs…

(That statement might have confused a few folks!)

> 5. Last but not least: talk is cheap, so do something!…

Well, gosh, *I* have been.

>…If you want mead(s)
> or ciders take a larger place in competitions and be judged without
> sub-optimal grouping, ENTER more…

And if I'm not a competitive sort? Or if I think that meads and ciders
don't belong in beer competitions (at least until the judges are required
to have at least some slight qualifications for judging them)?

Dick Dunn Hygiene, Colorado USA

End of Mead Lover's Digest #1105