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Hello fellow Mead Voyagers!  Things are good on the frontier of Mead.  On Monday, we got back from an epic road trip to Colorado.  The Mazer Cup International Mead Competition was held there, and we had to go, it is the place where you can taste ALL THE MEADS.

I am happy to report that the community of mead makers who sent meads to the competition are making the best meads yet.  

When I first started going to the mazer cup in 2011, I have to admit that only a few of the meads I had there lived up to the promise of the mead my grandfather made. (His last bottle, aged 15 years, was sunshine and flowers in the glass… A maker of rose colored nights and life long dreams.)

Last weekend, we tasted and judged a number of great meads and a couple were basically sublime.  Among the most excellent meads, I noticed a theme of approachable complexity, evolving elegance, and beautiful balance.

They were wonderful, in every way.

This is a challenge in the mead category, because with a drink that can so easily be too sweet and overpowering; refined, subtle beauty can be eclipsed by over the top meads. Happily, there were some stand out meads that hit the ineffable balance of the sublime without going too far.

There was a sparkling, light sweet clover mead that sang its varietal honey notes of cinnamon dust and nutmeg, had a body of light, crisp lace, and a finish of wide open fields and airy freedom. Seriously. 

There was an orange blossom mead with orange peel, that rolled on and on; in and out of every layer of orangeness.  Sweet orange fruit, delicate orange blossom, slightly astringent and bitter orange peel and back, and forth.  Always changing and evolving as you drank it. Swished it. Rolled it around. Drank more.

These two spoke the loudest to me, and they were home brews. On the commercial side, there was a spice mead, with Holy Basil (Tulsi) and Hawthorn by Hierophant Meadery that was wonderfully well done.  Dry, with nice honey aromas, made full by the Hawthorn and Tulsi. The meads by Melovino out of New Jersey were rich and full bodied, but balanced and delightful.  Prairie Rose’s Meads were wonderful.  Great examples of traditional mead for the uninitiated. Our meads, specifically our Sour Orange Blossom and California Oak, were distinctly different from the pack, and definite crowd pleasers at the mead mixer.  

The rest of the group were great too, and anyone who is seriously interested in mead should consider going to the Mazer Cup next year, and getting involved as a steward or judge.

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If there’s anything that I would improve about the competition, it would be breaking down the categories our meads are judged under by preferred drinking purpose.  

Right now, meads are judged in flights of 5-7 based off the characteristics that define them.  If it is a semi-sweet, traditional, varietal honey mead (no added fermentation elements) it will be judged with other semi-sweet, traditional, varietal honey meads. Thing is, semi-sweet ranges in amplitude from 2-5brix (which is a huge range), and varietal honey is as wide a selection as there are times in the day.  This meant that I judged that delightful sweet clover, sparkling mead which I mentioned before (the crisp lace one) alongside a mountain pecan honey mead, which tasted like bourbon. 

Same category. Two totally different meads.  

Therefore, I think they should be further broken up by when you would drink them.  I drink on different occasions, I’m guessing you do too.  After work. Before dinner. With food. When celebrating. After dinner, and when arm chair philosophizing.  

Different libations are suited to these very different uses.  I think that we should recognize that as a young industry and define which one of these uses our different meads are best suited for. 

Let me know what you think.  Or if I missed a favorite use of yours.

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As Phil Lorenz, the owner of Nectar Creek, a successful meadery out of Corvallis, Oregon said at the American Mead Maker Association meeting which was held at the Mazer Cup, “one thing I am sure there is a lot of is opportunity.”  I agree.


NOTES ON PRODUCTION

Experiments and developments on our short meads and sour meads continue.  Our focus on the short meads is using 10 different yeasts to naturally develop body and complexity with the help of Shea Comfort.

On the sour front, we are continuing to focus on the Sour Mead Lactobicillius available at RealBrewersYeast.com and are pitching it at the same time as the ale yeast we use but buffering on the third nutrient addition.  Details, when we lock this protocol down, will be available in the OPEN SOURCE MEAD section of our website.


THE BUZZ ON THE BEES

It’s Swarm Season!  Your faithful mead makers have already caught two swarms.  If you want to learn more about swarming, read this fun little article.

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IF YOU SEE A SWARM, google your local beekeeping club and see if they have a hive rescue list.  In most places there are experienced beekeepers who will remove a hive for free or minimal charge, in the hopes that they will be able to turn it into a productive hive and save it from extermination.

Or, put a post up on craigslist.  Eager beekeepers are out there, hoping to save and hive swarms this spring.


WHAT'S NEW AT GCM

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> TASTE OF LEUCADIA | The Golden Coast Mead "Sip Stop" will be at Bergamot Spa + Boutique for Taste of Leucadia on April 7th. Come say hi!

> WHERE TO FIND US | Everywhere!  Just Kidding.  More Sprouts in SD, soon BevMos in OC and Inland Empire (already in SD BevMos), WholeFoods, Jimbos Encinitas...

If you would like your local bottle shop or favorite restaurant to carry us, tell them! You have the power to help the mead category grow through your conscious consumption.

> UPCOMING EVENTS | Find them on our [Events Calendar].


Thank you for your DEDICATED AND ARDENT SUPPORT!

Cheers,

Frank Golbeck
CEO, Head Mead Maker, Co-Founder

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