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Mazer Cup International 2011

pain

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Yes, we plan to make blind pours.

Creme Fraiche! Don't forget the Creme Fraiche! ;)

Question: are the pours blind this year? I might have something around here deserving of an entry! ;D

edit: I think I may have found the answer to my question in last year's entry guidelines... "Entries will be pre-poured in a room separate from the judging location and brought to the judging tables. " Though, that was in the commercial guidelines.
 

pain

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Yep, we'll post the info to the Mazer Cup website when we have it, which should be soon (next week or so).

It'll be good to see you!!

Will there be a block of rooms in the hotel with a group rate?

I am 90% traveling alone for this. Anyone want to split a 2-queens room?
 

pain

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You can do that, some do. However, if it is good enough to make the 2nd round in the category (some categories are *huge* and we have to do a couple rounds to narrow it all the way down), or the Best in Show round, if you don't have enough, it won't be judged in that round. We've had a couple that couldn't be judged because they didn't send enough. But it *will* be judged in the first round, regardless.

I would say go ahead and enter it.

I have two different meads I would love to enter and get critiqued, but I only have two splits of each. How much of an issue is the "suggested three bottles" per entry?
 

akueck

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I've only been a judge once, but it was very instructive (this was for beer, I got the Oktoberfest category). There were 3 of us doing the judging for this category, and the atmosphere was very much "how similar is this to a classic Oktoberfest" and "how can this be better" and not "wow this is terrible" or "I've made/had better". We found good things to say about every beer, except for the one that was cloudy, flat, and smelled like socks (yes we tasted it, and no we didn't say that on the form). Even then the feedback was constructive and we offered advice from our own brewing history. Having people who brew judge your beer/mead is really nice since they've screwed up too, and might have an idea that hasn't occurred to you yet. Even though judging is a "competition", the products are not judged against each other or relative to personal taste. Each one is judged against a standard. If a beer/mead is supposed to smell like a barnyard, then you get high marks if yours does too. Whether or not the judge likes that smell is not important (and usually judges will try to not do categories they don't like or don't drink).

Homebrewing competitions are not zero-sum. One entry doesn't win because the others lose. The judging feedback is about elevating the level of all entries, not promoting one entry above all others. Medals and ribbons are nice, but I think every judge would rather be stuck choosing from lots of great entries than declaring how many entries are sub-par.
 

skunkboy

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Speaking of judging, anyone have comments on the BJCP mead judge test? I am taking a prep course the Bear Judge test over the next couple of months, but I was curious how if anyone has taken the mead one has studied?
 

jkane

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In beer judging, there are style guidelines. They make it easier to determine what a beer should be like. With meads, it's a lot more about what the entry says! For instance if you say it's a strawberry melomel and there is no strawberry, then it'll get less points. If you say it's a dry mead and it's sweet, you get lower points. If you say it's still, but there are a few bubbles coming from the bottom of the glass ... well, you get the point!

Declaring the honey is also important. If the judge can't identify the honey, they assume something like a wild flower. So weird tasting honey needs to be identified to get points for it.

Defects are the same as any beverage! If it has some, they are a problem.

In the end, it's more about balance than anything else. If you made a sack mead and it tastes like rocket fuel, saying it's a sac will get you a point for your description, but the balance towards rocket fuel with not enough sweetness or too much acidity will make it score lower.

I took the mead exam last year. There were not many oppertunities for classes. Study the mead study guide and learn all of the honey flavors. Go out and find those honey's and get a chance to ferment and taste them. Read all of the fruit descriptions. Memorize those! They are big on the test. Know how to describe each of the honey and fruits in the study guide on the BJCP web site.

Go here for examples of what to expect. http://www.bjcp.org/mead.php

I would highly recommend you judge in a few BJCP contests BEFORE taking the test. You can judge as a novice. If you are an experienced mead maker, tell the coordinator that and let him/her know you are studying for the mead judge exam. They may be nice and team you up on a mead table. You can also be a steward. Again, tell the coordinator that you are studying for the mead exam and ask to steward at a mead table. Listen to the judges. Sample with them and ask questions. Some judges will be the quiet types, but many are more than willing to discuss the mead after they have finished their score sheets. If there are novice judges, there will be a bit of discussion while filling the sheets out to help the new judge know what they are tasting/smelling. Listen in and feel free to ask questions also.

Find a local beer club and get them interested in mead! Many clubs are starting to offer study sessions. My wife and I are planning one for this fall for our club.
 

Mars Colonist

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You can send it in.
But don't use the mail. Sending alcohol through the United States Postal Service is probably illegal. I say probably because there are some who feel that the regulations do no apply to untaxed alcohol such as homebrew, but unless you personally want to spend a lot of legal fees defending yourself to find out for sure, I'd suggest using UPS or Fed-Ex.
+1 on the UPS/Fed Ex, however, my beer competition entries have been denied by both. If they ask questions, tell them they are marinades.

Speaking of judging, anyone have comments on the BJCP mead judge test? I am taking a prep course the Bear Judge test over the next couple of months, but I was curious how if anyone has taken the mead one has studied?
I just took the BJCP beer test this last weekend (felt pretty good about it!)... haven't had that intense of a writing session since college. I talked to the proctor (Grand Master I) and he noted that the Mead tests are just starting to make the rounds (at least in Texas); apparently, it is fairly new? There are no "levels" like with the beer tests, you just get to check the "Mead Judge" box on the BJCP score sheets.
 

wayneb

Lifetime Patron
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The mead exam is pretty new. In fact, Ken Schramm, Oskaar and Vicky have been contributors in the development of it for the past several years, with some of the rest of us either providing a little additional info or serving as guinea pigs for some of the questions in development. I'm pretty sure that it has been offered officially only for the past year or so. I haven't taken it yet, but I am planning to get to it during the Mazer Cup if we do manage to fit an exam into the event schedule. It will be interesting to see just what it has evolved into! ;D
 

akueck

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Looks like details are up on the Mazer Cup site. :)

Question for Vicky/Pete/others: What is the general agenda for the event? I'd like to volunteer for some things but don't want to overlap anything too exciting.
 

akueck

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Right. Are there other events going on besides the judging & dinners? Or just informal tastings/about the town stuff?
 

pain

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We have the mead certification exam (that is still being set up and doesn't have a time/date yet), pro comp and paired tasting Friday, and the commercial comp on Saturday. The rest is whatever you do personally.
 

akueck

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Awesome! I am volunteering to judge but you can have me pour stuff instead if you get more experienced folks.
 

Oskaar

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If we are able to do blind judging for the home competition it wouldn't be an issue. Otherwise no, it is an obvious identifier.

We're not sure about blind judging this year yet as we have several challenges based on the venue and transport of the mead to and from the judging area.

Will advise when we reach a final decision on blind judging.

Thanks so much,

Oskaar
 

AToE

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Shoot, I thought the blind pour thing was a done deal, I've got to bottle a couple meads right away for this year's competition... might have to try to track down some plain brown bottles.
 

pain

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No, I said we *plan* to do blind pours, but that is contingent on the space and having the ability to do it. It has always been the plan, one we are working towards.

You've got a few weeks yet before entries open, and we'll announce for sure one way or the other.
 

AToE

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I understand, it's got to be tough to do. I'm sure if I look hard enough at the liquor store I can find some brown bottles to use (most of the beer in brown bottles here is in screw top bottles, not the good kind).