Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #1263, 23 May 2006

Mead Lover's Digest #1263 Tue 23 May 2006


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



Digest returns to life (Mead Lovers Digest Admin)
Re: Why are bjcp judges judging cider and mead? ("David Houseman")
Re: Why are bjcp judges judging cider and mead? (Mike Faul)
Beer judge certification and mead? (
Re: Why are bjcp judges judging cider and mead? (Dick Adams)
Re: Why are bjcp judges judging cider and mead? (Eric Drake)
Re: How to adjust acidity? ("Dan McFeeley")
My first batch of mead – bubbles have slowed ("Shauna Norberg")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1262, 2 May 2006 ("
filtering yeast ("Timothy J. Gibbons")


NOTE: Digest appears when there is enough material to send one.
Send ONLY articles for the digest to
Use mead-request@talisman.comfor [un]subscribe/admin requests.
Digest archives and FAQ are available at
A searchable archive is available at

Subject: Digest returns to life
From: Lovers Digest Admin)
Date: Tue, 23 May 2006 09:24:35 -0600 (MDT)

Sorry for the even-longer-than-expected delay. The janitor is back and the
digest will resume at its usual erratic pace.


Subject: Re: Why are bjcp judges judging cider and mead?
From: "David Houseman" <david.houseman@verizon.netgt;
Date: Tue, 02 May 2006 18:05:49 -0400


You asked the same question on the cider digest. Here's my response there
in case you missed it"


The issue isn't that there aren't qualified cider and mead judges; there
are. Many of those that follow this forum and make cider for example.
While not formally certified or trained, there are great judges for mead and

The issue is that there hasn't been a body of individuals that was willing
to tackle the considerable work to create a cider and mead sanctioning
program that provides training, testing and tracking of judging specifically
for meads and ciders. The BJCP has recently agreed to take on this task
and has asked for volunteers from the cider and mead community to join this

David Houseman

Subject: Re: Why are bjcp judges judging cider and mead?
From: Mike Faul <mfaul@rabbitsfootmeadery.comgt;
Date: Tue, 02 May 2006 19:03:04 -0400 (EDT)

I'm about to go on a bit of a vent over this exact thing. I'd like to
make a few points on judging and the need for a more formal set of judging
standards for mead in particular and ciders.

<Tirade> Over the past several years I have entered my commercially
available products into the International Mead Festival competitions as
well as several other non-BJCP events and have won various gold, silver
and bronze medals rosettes etc.. That's all good of course.

What I like about the BJCP style of judging is that it is done using the
BJCP rule of one mead one medal. I actually like that, though there are
some that would argue that medals should be based on the score of the
product received just like in the wine world. That would be nice too.

What I don't like about this style of judging isn't anything to do with
the rules but more related to the BJCP judges and the extreme variances
that I have seen in what judges say they are judging vs what the product is.

My main gripe is this;

Last year I entered 8 products into the various catagories and won a couple
medals. What really blew my mind was when I received the copies of the
judges score/comment sheets and found MANY MANY MANY variances between
all of the judges for every product except the two that brought home medals.

In all cases, for the other six products the judges couldn't agree what was
a clear product or not. One judge even referred to a product as 'cloudy'
while another judge in the same catagory claimed it was 'crystal clear'.

Yet another product was carbonated and another judge thought it was 'still'
(which it was). Another judge called one of my carbonated products (a
sparkling cyser) still. Much to my amazement.

In yet another example a judge scored it an 85 while another judge scored
the same thing a 55. Weird eh?

What I am getting at here is that the judging, scoring and terminology
used to judge mead is all over the map and depending on if the judge is
already familiar with a particular mead, they will rate it higher than if
they were not familiar.

As an example I have third party testing done on several of my meads and
they typically score in the 85-95 range.

These same products when judged by BJCP judges over the past three years
have received WIDE scoring ranges from 57 – 93 with the same product winning
a gold one year, a silver the next and nothing the third. The year this
product won the gold medal I kept aside enough to use in the competition
in following years just to see how it would fare. The judges were all
different each year except for the second year where one judge was the same.

In that example the scores are way off the chart each year with only the
experienced judges being consistent. I know who they are by their initials
🙂 Here are a couple of the scoring ranges I have seen;

57 – 80 (23 PTS) 73 – 80 (7 PTS) 65,69,73 (Year 3) (8PTS) 65, 88, 90(year 2)
(25 PTS) 89,91,93) (YEAR 1) (4 PTS) 72 – 85 (13 PTS) 63 – 85 (22 PTS)

What I am geting at here is that there is still WAY too much vagueness
in judging.

Case in point: What should a cyser taste like? Should it be more honey than
apple? If so, who says that? If you use a really strong honey like buckwheat
of course you'll be overwhelmed with honey, but what if you only used a small
amount of buckwheat then what? But is it still cyser if it has less honey?

A cyser is in my opinion supposed to have a great apple taste but also
some body and mouthfeel from the honey. If I wanted it to taste more like
honey then I would have made a straight mead and added a little bit of
apple juice to it.

Same goes for a braggot. Who in the world has had a braggot that was made
true to the style? NOBODY there isn't an example of the 'style' to judge
off of. Only historical recipes that we can try to recreate.

If a judge this year judges braggots and next year moves on to melomels
then how can the same product entered each year receive the same score if
it was in fact 100% identical.

Where are the reference examples of a particular style? Should a Gold
medal mead in a particular catagory be made the poster child for that
style? Perhaps. But ony if that same mead is judged gold multiple years
in a row.

I think as an 'industry' the world of mead is still way too small to have
any real defined rules about what is and isn't a particualr style.

It looks like the BJCP rules used to judge mead are from the beer world
using wine models for the scoring. Both wrong in my opinion. We should
use mead judges, mead guidelines and mead scoring.

The bottom line is that regardless of how a judge judges your mead or
cider the fact remains that it is the customer that controls the destiny
of your product with their wallet. Not with the score sheets of amateur
judges. Nothing against the judges who have a clue of course.


Comments welcome.


Subject: Beer judge certification and mead?
Date: Tue, 2 May 2006 19:23:50 EDT

I have a related question…
Although there are style guidelines and entries to judge on meads and
ciders, I was recently told that there are never any questions on the beer
certification judging examination on mead or cider. Why?
Darn. I make lots more mead than beer and thought I might be able to ace at
least one of the questions on the upcoming exam.
Carl McMillin
Brecksville, OH

Subject: Re: Why are bjcp judges judging cider and mead?
From: Adams)
Date: Wed, 3 May 2006 01:04:18 -0400 (EDT)

Robert Keith Moore <rob@ineedachef.comgt; asked:

> Why are there not judges being trained for cider and mead?
> I think a wine judge would do a better job than a beer judge.
> I have had seasoned wine drinkers tell me how wonderful my
> meads are and consistently have the same opinion in a blind
> test while bjcp judges all differ. What I am saying is 3
> different wine judges, same opinion. Three different bjcp
> judges 4 different opinions.


> Where are the real judges?

You ask a very valid question. Let us presume for the purpose
of this discussion only that the average BJCP judge is not
qualified to judge meads. What do you want to do about that?

My local homebrew store handed out a flyer for me on starting
a Mead Club. To this date I have had one taker in two years!
The problem is there are not enough serious meadmakers. Most
meadmakers I meet are beer people who brew about 10 gallons of
mead a year. I am a meadmaker who brews beer to keep my hands
off the young meads.

It would be interesting to know how many people subscribe to
this digest and purchase at least three 5-gallons of mead a
year. That's 180 lbs and translates into 60 to 80 gallons of
mead per year. I will be honestly surprised if the number
exceeds 100.

Also, at the AHA in Baltimore, I tasted an awesome tasting mead
that nearly cauterized my throat when I swallowed it. It went
down like sandpaper grit. A Wine judge would not have swallowed
it and would have given it a grade in the 40's.


Subject: Re: Why are bjcp judges judging cider and mead?
From: Eric Drake <drake.49@osu.edugt;
Date: Wed, 03 May 2006 07:50:46 -0400

At 04:34 PM 5/2/2006, you wrote:

>Subject: Why are bjcp judges judging cider and mead?
>From: Robert Keith Moore <rob@ineedachef.comgt;
>Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2006 10:11:52 -0700



>Why are there not judges being trained for cider and mead? I think a
>wine judge would do a better job than a beer judge. I have had seasoned
>wine drinkers tell me how wonderful my meads are and consistently have
>the same opinion in a blind test while bjcp judges all differ. What I am
>saying is 3 different wine judges, same opinion. Three different bjcp
>judges 4 different opinions.
>Where are the real judges?



There is a stigma about BJCP judges judging mead, and I can tell you
that I know a lot of BJCP judges (I am not one as I have no interest
in anything more than drinking where beer is concerned) and there are
a lot of mead, cider, and wine folks amongst them. There are folks
there that I recognize as experts in mead. This is one issue where I
feel we can't make a sweeping generalization especially when there is
a lack of a training and certification program for mead judges. And
if that doesn't make you feel better, maybe this will: The BJCP has
announced a "Proposal for Inclusion of Mead and Cider Certification
in the BJCP" (, and I know they
are using mead people to create it.

Mazers up,

Subject: Re: How to adjust acidity?
From: "Dan McFeeley" <mcfeeley@keynet.netgt;
Date: Wed, 3 May 2006 11:09:30 -0500

On Sat, 29 Apr 2006, Mike Peremsky wrote:

>Ok, I have seen more articles than I care to count
>that say "I have adjusted the acidity…". But I
>cannot find anything anywhere that tells me how
>much of an acid blend or tartaric acid or Calcium
>Carbonate is going to adjust the acidity of a 5 gal must.


>Does anyone have a chart or guideline somewhere that
>they can share so I can make a guestimate as to how
>much acid blend or calcium carbonate I should add
>so I can get the acidity where I would like it?

Acidity in meadmaking is a bit tricky — the chemical
properties and flavor profile of gluconic acid, the
primary acid in honey and mead, are strikingly different
from the organic acids found in wine, which are
generally tartaric, malic, and citric acid/s.

The flavor profile of gluconic acid is generally mild
and refreshing. Its acid strength is low — it takes
2.5 times the amount of gluconic acid to equal the
the TA measurement of tartaric acid. That means
that flavor balance in mead is quite different from
that of wine.

It's also impossible to obtain accurate measurements
of TA in mead using the standard acid testing kits
used in home winemaking. This is because of the
complexitity of acidity in honey — trying to avoid
long drawn out explanations, in honey, gluconic
acid co-exists in a pH dependent relationship with
its lactone, gluconolactone. A pH dependent
relationship means, change the pH and the components
in the chemical relationship also change. This is
what happens when you measure TA using a standard
acid testing kit. The pH is raised to the endpoint
during the titration process. When this is done with
honey, the lactone responds by changing to gluconic
acid which, in turns raises the TA content of the
honey *higher* than what it was originally.

All is not lost. Mead is different stuff from wine,
and it's better to first taste the mead rather than
relying on chemical analysis. Because of the
differences between wine and mead, acid acts
more like a flavor adjustment in mead, as compared
to wine where it plays a stronger role in the balance
of the wine.

To put it another way, in winemaking acid adjustments
are critical for balance. In meadmaking, acid adjustments
are not critical for balance, but instead act much the
same way as spices in a metheglin.

You'll find good guidelines for adjusting acidity in
winemaking here:

but again, keep in mind that acid in mead and acid
in wine are like apples and oranges in their differences.

Hope this is helpful!


Dan McFeeley

"Meon an phobail a thogail trid an chultur"
(The people's spirit is raised through culture)

Subject: My first batch of mead - bubbles have slowed
From: "Shauna Norberg" <thegawdess@gmail.comgt;
Date: Wed, 10 May 2006 06:04:41 -0400

Hello everyone,

I am making my first batch of mead (Pomegranate Melomel). I experimented a
little with the yeast and used Lavlin 1118 in one batch and Lavlin 1121 in
another. It looka like the bubbles have slowed right down in one of the
batches (Lavlin 1118). Should I do anything? The mead has been fermenting
for about 3 weeks now.



Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #1262, 2 May 2006
From: " <>
Date: Fri, 12 May 2006 00:41:53 GMT

A lot of people have wondered/commented about the bjcp judges rating meads
over the years (myself included). I for one just usually do not enter
meads into competitions (only ever entered one). Although this isn't the
only reason I don't go in for the competitions, it is a factor. I think it
will evolve organically, but it wont happen overnight. The meads we drink
today are significntly different in judging parameters from beers and wines,
and as such neither judging certification is truly applicable. However many
*competent* bjcp judges do an outstanding job on meads from what I've read,
but many others do not. It's an interest level gradient in my opinion. The
mazer cup doesn't require bjcp of its judges, but some have them. It is
more important for meads that the judge be chosen/volunteer for their
breadth of experience with meads, and as such I'd recommend you choose
your competitions based on the focus of the event (mead heavy/mead only)
or good solid judge panel with a breadth of mead experience. Ask the event
organizer before entering, it may up awareness of the situation.

Subject: Why are bjcp judges judging cider and mead?
From: Robert Keith Moore <rob@ineedachef.comgt;
Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2006 10:11:52 -0700

Why are there not judges being trained for cider and mead? I think a
wine judge would do a better job than a beer judge. I have had seasoned
wine drinkers tell me how wonderful my meads are and consistently have
the same opinion in a blind test while bjcp judges all differ. What I am
saying is 3 different wine judges, same opinion. Three different bjcp
judges 4 different opinions.
Where are the real judges?


Subject: filtering yeast
From: "Timothy J. Gibbons" <tim@timgibbons.netgt;
Date: Fri, 19 May 2006 00:43:13 -0400

So I'm trying to make fizzy mead and am at the stage where I'm about to
bottle what I have (with added sugar to create the carbonation).

My question is this: Can I — should I — filter the mead before the
bottling? Obviously the sediment at the bottom of my fermentation
chamber is dead yeast, and I want to filter that out. Is the live yeast
sublimated into the mead to the point that running it through a standard
plastic filter won't get rid of it? Or should I just be careful in the
transfer process to leave the sediment behind, but not actually filter
the mead that I'm bottling?

Thanks for your help.

  • -tjg

End of Mead Lover's Digest #1263