Subject: Mead Lover's Digest #1264, 27 May 2006

Mead Lover's Digest #1264 Sat 27 May 2006


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



Re: Why are bjcp judges judging cider and mead? (Dick Adams)
Re: Why are bjcp judges judging cider and mead? (mellymel_hsv)
Re: My first batch of mead – bubbles have slowed (Dick Adams)
Re: Why are bjcp judges judging cider and mead? ("Tumarkin ")
Complexity (Edward Martin)


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Subject: Re: Why are bjcp judges judging cider and mead?
From: Adams)
Date: Tue, 23 May 2006 13:46:54 -0400 (EDT)

Mike Faul wrote a detailed message about his problems with
judges in general. I believe I can summarize them into at
least three categories:
1. Inconsistency between judges;
2. Inconsistency within judges; and
3. Lack of fundamental knowledge

I learned three things in graduate school:
a. How to cope with sleep deprivation;
b. Ignorance is an expected condition amongst human beings; and
c. Experience and expertise have a low correlation factor.

The three points I believe Mike is making fall under the issue
of the low correlation between experience and expertise. There
is an academic researcher whose name escapes me who evaluted pig
judges at County and State Fairs. One of his test instruments
was to run the same pig through the judging at multiiple Fairs to
see if there was a variation in scoring – and of course there was!
This method allowed him to identify judges who had expertise.

For the record: In my opinion, expertise is a threshold effect,
i.e., you either have it or you don't. It is also a learnable
skill and, in many cases, an apprenticeship with those who have
expertise is appropriate. One problem I pointed out in a previous
post is the dearth of Meadmakers who are homebrewing 100 gallons
or more of Mead a year. A bigger problem is those who do homebrew
a decent volume are scattered geographically. I am desparately
trying to get my wife a job in the Promised Land of North Carolina
where I know of three excellent Meadmakers and even then they are
spread from the mountains to the coast.

Due to physical problems I am only at 25 gallons so far this
year and am hoping to reach 75 to 80 by year-end.

Back to the point of expertise in judging: If we are going to
achieve quality/consistent Mead judging we need to codifiy the
common body of knowledge, distribute it, and test for it. Then
we need to establish mead tasting events, not competitions, but
organized events to judge sample meads and to discuss them
amongst a group of would-be judges. This is not an easy task,
but it is necessary. In the years before I became an academic,
I was an IS consultant and my favorite expression was "If this
was an easy job, they would have given it to one of their friends!" 🙂

I sincerely hope the Mead and the Cider judge certifications
progress with a sense of urgency.


Richard D. Adams, CPA(retired)
Retired Professor of Accountancy
Moderator: misc.taxes.moderated

Subject: Re: Why are bjcp judges judging cider and mead?
From: mellymel_hsv <mellymel_hsv@yahoo.comgt;
Date: Tue, 23 May 2006 11:27:16 -0700 (PDT)

LOL, this is a funny discussion. You could see the exact same complaints
in the aftermath of every AHA/Mid-South Homebrewing competition our
brewclub enters. It's not just meads or ciders, it's beers as well.
Judges 9 times of 10 are inexperienced or can't seem to articulate their
tastes into words and half the time aren't even BJCP certified. I can't
count how many times we've gotten back comments on beers (award winners or
otherwise) that actually made us double over in laughter, quite literally.

As an example, one comment from Memphis (believe is was Bluff City Brewfest)
a few years ago is now a club inside joke. A member got the comment
back that his Hefeweizen "tastes cloudy". First off, it says right in
the style guidelines that should be in front of him while he's judging
hefeweizens that the beer should appear cloudy, if it's not, it's not a
hefe and it's most certainly been filtered. Second, and more importantly,
how in the world does something "taste" cloudy?!

My husband and I had a ripping good laugh when we got back our score sheets
from Bluff City Brewfest this year (not to pick on Memphis in particular,
but this is the last one we entered, so it's fresh on my mind), we had some
interesting comments to decipher. One judge on our 2005 Merry Christmas
Ale (a heavily spiced brown ale) said all he could taste was dried bitter
orange peel (there was none in it, I personally zested 8-9 fresh oranges
for the brew and if anything, you can taste ginger, cardamom, cinnamon,
clove and nutmeg long before you get citrus notes, if you even get them
at all). Another judge said, "there's too much of one spice, reduce
that by a lot next time and I think you'll have it". LOL, so helpful!
Neither of these judges were BJCP certified. By the way, this is a beer
that won second in its category at Peach State Brewoff a month prior and
scored in the low twenties at Bluff City Brewfest in Memphis.


It's a crap shoot, totally. But good luck.

Love and Light,


Subject: Re: My first batch of mead - bubbles have slowed
From: Adams)
Date: Tue, 23 May 2006 15:06:22 -0400 (EDT)

"Shauna Norberg" <thegawdess@gmail.comgt; asked:

> 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.

The "Bubble Rule" goes like this:

Fermentation starts before you see any bubbles. When you do
see continuous bubbles it is safe to presume fermentation has
started. As long as you see bubbles, it's safe to presume
fermentation is still occurring. Fermentation may continue to
occur even after the bubbles cease.


The only way to verify fermentation is with an hydrometer or
a refractometer – Given that you took and recorded an Original
Gravity (OG) reading. My child bride has this nasty habit of
checking my log book to see if I recorded everything.

Take an hydrometer reading to see the effects of fermentation.
If you started with 15 lbs of honey your OG should have been
around 1.11 before considering the fermentable sugars in the
Pomegranate. You may wish to leave it in the primary until it
gets to 1.03, but I wouldn't want to leave it in the primary
for more than 6 weeks – preferably 4 weeks.

I resume you meant Lalvin 1122. Note that Lalvin 1122 has a
lower alcohol tolerence than Lalvin 1118.

But wait at least another week before racking.


Subject: Re: Why are bjcp judges judging cider and mead?
From: "Tumarkin " <Tumarkin@HogtownBrewers.orggt;
Date: Tue, 23 May 2006 15:47:06 -0400

This is a great topic for discussion & it seems to be getting response on a
number of variant sub-issues. The aspects of the BJCP test & certifications
is fairly straightforward & is getting some good responses. Some of the
issues that Mike raises are less straightforward.

Firstly, it seems that most of the competitions you're discussing are
non-BJCP events. BJCP score sheets are on a 50 point scale as opposed to
the 100 point scale you mentioned. But more important, meads (like beers,
or ciders) are judged against the BJCP style guidelines.

I was on the committee that updated the guidelines a couple of years
ago. When we worked on the mead & cider portions we sought help from
knowledgeable folks. For the cider area these included a number of
professional cider-makers (and our esteemed janitor as well). For the mead
area, we consulted some of the experienced mead judges in Florida. Also
Mike Hall & Gordon Strong were on the panel and are both noted mead judges.

The new guidelines are far from perfect, but I feel safe in saying they
are an improvement over the older version. Yes, in part they do bring
some wine viewpoint to the table, but I feel that is appropriate – mead
is its ownself, but it does have strong similarities to wine, certainly
more than to beer. And the guidelines are always intended to be a work in
progress. If you have specific suggestions for improvement, go to the BJCP
website & there is a link to send suggestions.

Of course, even the best guidelines are just a start. We have to educate
judges to the differences & intricacies of mead & cider. Here in Florida,
we have Meadlennium, one of the few mead-only homebrew competitions and
there has been a lot of education of local judges. At least a good start,
though there's still a long way to go.

You mention a point difference of 85 to 55 at the same table. Even cutting
this in half for the BJCP point scale, a 15 point difference would be
completely unacceptable at most homebrew comps. The judges would have
to discuss the whys & wherefores of their vastly differing perceptions &
come to some closer midpoint.

On the cyser & braggot issue, look at it this way. A cyser should have
more honey character than apple (or it'd be a cider with honey), a braggot
more honey than malt, or it'd be a beer with honey as an adjunct. Too
simplistic? maybe, but it's a good starting place.

Hope some of you can join us at the AHA National Homebrewers Conference in
Orlando next month. One of the seminars is on judging meads. Just another
opportunity to extend the numbers of judges who have at least been presented
with the differences in judging mead and beer. One step at a time & we'll
eventually have a larger pool of experienced mead & cider judges.

Mark Tumarkin
Hogtown Brewers
Gainesville, FL

Subject: Complexity
From: Edward Martin <kitkatnedrat@sbcglobal.netgt;
Date: Fri, 26 May 2006 20:10:09 -0700 (PDT)

Hi All!


I have a raspberry melomel in the works and am wondering how I can add

complexity to this wine. It tastes pretty good right now but is rather
mellow. It seems like it is missing something – can anyone make any
suggestions to add some complexity.


Thanks in advance,

Edward Martin

End of Mead Lover's Digest #1264