A&S Judging: Mead Criteria / Packaging?

Gunnora Hallakarva gunnora at bga.com
Wed Oct 23 07:00:33 PDT 1996

Mistress Meadhbh said:
<Judging criteria is a topic that gets discussed frequently...in the
><laurels circle and out of it, at A & S and Colleges.  There are no
>standardized <criteria yet for brewing (or any other discipline).  If you
><have any suggestions...please e-mail them to me and we can discuss it!
><If any other laurels are out there....PLEASE comment! >>

Mistress Mara said:
>I too would like to hear what the artisans have to say about this subject.
> As a Laurel (and yes I know not everyone agree's with me) I want to see some
>standards in place.  As to what these are, I don't know.  Let us know what
>your ideas are.  Not saying that they will be adopted or put in use.  But ya
>have to start somewhere.........
>This will probably stir up a big ol mess...............but oh well........

Heilsa, All!

I am also a proponent of standards.  But I'd like to specify what I mean....
too many places that have adopted standards get locked into some real
problems that can stifle extraordinary effort and unusual achievement, plus
it makes lots of ropom for Authenticity Nazis to roost.

I'd like Ansteorra to have guidelines for various artforms. A standard
should define the minimum requirements for an artwork to be considered "not
bad."  Then we should make a great effort to encourage people to exceed or
even vastly exceed that standard.  This would help people who are just
starting to practice an artform to have a target at which to aim for in
terms of the quality of their work: once they've achieved the standard level
of quality, they should pat themselves on the back and consider the skill
learned, and start improving it... once they've exceeded the standard,
that's when the item should be displayed in A&S.

For example, on a bottle of mead.  (Caveat!! I'm not a brewer! I am a
dedicated mead DRINKER, and I live with a very good brewer, whose work I
have observed, however.  A real, expert brewer should be one of the ones to
set real standards for brewing mead!  These are suggestions!)

(1) Appearance.  Mead should be clear.  Hunks of pulp or dead yeast bodies
should not be drifting along inside the bottle like Mississippi river mud.
Pectin streamers should not make the fluid cloudy. (The remedy for cloudy
mead is racking several times.  Bad pectin may require addition of
pectinase: in period an herb called alecost was added for this puropose.)

(2) Color.  There really isn't a standard color for mead.  Most meads will
vary from a pale straw yellow through various shades of amber or gold, and
depending on fruit or spices added, may be brown, red, or even have a purple
or blue cast.

(3) Aroma.  Mead should have a nose that includes honey and possibly floral
or fruit notes.  Some meads will have various spicy odors as well.  It
should not smell like new bread or like yeast.  There should not be a
vinegar odor.

(4) Flavor.  Mead should be aged enough to have a smooth flavor. Aging
should have proceeded long enough to allow all additive flavors to blend
smoothly.  There should not be a yeasty flavor.  There should not be vinegar
flavors.  There should not be a raw alcohol bite in a properly aged brew.

        (A) Dry mead.  Should not taste sweet, or leave a sticky, sweet
flavor on the tongue.  Dry meads should be judged much like a white wine,
and should have most of the same characteristics.

        (B) Sweet mead.  Should not be syrupy; ie, the acid balance needs to
be such that the mead tastes sweet, but doesn't leave a syrupy taste on the

(5) Documentation.  Give the recipe used.  Note where you got the recipe;
is it one you made up, one that is period that you got from (fill in the
book title here), or one you have adapted from a period recipe, or one that
you have adapted from someone else's recipe?  If it is not directly a period
recipe, you should do enough research to know what a period mead recipe is,
and it would be a good idea to compare the period recipe to yours:  how is
yours different, why have you made changes, how is yours similar.
Documentation should include your stillroom book (see next paragraph), and
it's a good idea to explain where your brewing process was period, where it
wasn't, and why you chose the non-period techniques etc.

During the brewing process, you should keep a stillroom book.  This is a
record that includes: your orignial ingredients, the procedure you followed,
temperatures, when you pitched your yeast, what kind of yeast, etc.  You
should treat this book rather like a lab notebook.  As the fermentation
progresses, keep notes.  Note when you racked the brew.  Note if you add
more sugar or honey later.  If you taste the brew along the way, record the
date and your impressions.  Note down everything you add to the brew and the
date it was added. It serves to show what exactly you did, and also it
allows you (and others) to exactly re-create this exact type of brew again
in the future.  


I for one would like to hear the artisans of Ansteorra discuss what
standards they would like to see for their own arts.   And I'd like to see
comment from Laurels who have lived out of kingdom and worked with various
kingdom standards: I'd like to hear how they worked, and what problems ya'll
had with them, and how you think those problems could be fixed.  Could
Ansteorra begin with standards from elsewhere and adapt them to our needs?



Gunnora Hallakarva
Ek eigi visa (th)ik hversu o(dh)lask Lofstirrlauf-Kruna
heldr hversu na Hersis-A(dh)al

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