A&S Judging: Mead Criteria / Packaging?

damaris damaris at geocities.com
Wed Oct 23 14:40:13 PDT 1996

Gunnora Hallakarva wrote:

> 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
> tongue.
> (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.

Thanks darlin' for putting out these suggestions.  If I were to have to judge
(God forbid) I would have just had to: taste, hmm, this mead, A is better than 
mead B.  But another person might like the taste of mead B better than mead A.
> 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 can't say enough good about this suggestion.  Not only do you know what is 
good.  You know what NOT to do again.  (believe it or not I have a few of those)
This not only is an art but a science.  And those of you mundanely involved in
the sciences as I am probably have to keep a notebook. 
Damaris of Greenhill /mka Susan Wieland
"Mead brewer extrodinaire"
---Azure, three labryses in pall inverted hafts to center
within a bordure or---

A great many people think they are thinking when they are
only rearranging their prejudices.  William James.

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