Monday, April 19, 2010

Blue Ribbon Mead!

Most of my faithful readers will already know that we make mead and in fact, mead making is now a decade long tradition in the McMillin family. You might also remember reading about our mead making experience with Australian honeys (snow gum, leatherwood and red stringy bark).

Brian's father, Carl, started making mead when his sister, Heather, requested it for her Scottish themed wedding and it's just been getting better and better ever since. Carl has won numerous awards for his meads and they're always better than any commercial meads we try. (We think he should go into business but that's another story). We were excited to hear that he submitted, to two competitions, some of our mead that was started just before we left for Australia. For this particular mead, Carl and I picked out the honey from the beekeeper, Brian and I started it with Carl's yeast, Carl and Keith tended it while we've been here and Brian and Carl tweaked the acidity when we were last home. We've just heard the results....

First, the Mazer Cup International Mead Competition. Neither Carl's nor our meads won anything, but we received positive comments from the two judges on our sweet mead with local wildflower honey:

Aroma: Good honey aroma 8/10
Appearance: Short legs, color good, clarity good 4/6
Flavor: Sweet, slight alcohol taste, fast finish 16/24
Overall impression: Nice mead 8/10
Total 36/50 (top end of very good range)

Aroma: Pleasant honey bouquet 8/10
Appearance: Clear light amber - pretty! 5/6
Flavor: Sweetness appropriate for style - nice balance, good finish 19/24
Overall impression: Nice well balanced mead 7/10
Total 39/50 (low end of excellent range)

The really exciting news is that OUR MEAD WON FIRST PLACE in the American Homebrewers Association National Homebrew Competition! It was submitted in the category for dry, semi-sweet, and sweet traditional meads in the East Regional competition (five states) and will now advance to the national competition! Here are the comments from the two certified judges:

Bouquet/Aroma: Honey and alcohol and acid in the initial aroma. Slight buckwheat honey aroma. 7/10
Appearance: Yellow-orange color. Very slight haze, noticeable legs. 5/6
Flavor: The initial flavor is very clean with a honey flavor and sweetness. The finish is slightly acidic with a honey sweetness and flavor. The aftertaste is sweet with a very slight acidity. Alcohol is standard. Body is medium-full. Slight buckwheat honey flavor. 20/24
Overall Impression: This is a very nice mead. It tastes and smells like a nice blend of wildflower and buckwheat honey. Nice job. 8/10
Total 40/50

Bouquet/Aroma: Gentle honey character - probably buckwheat. No flaws detected. 8/10
Appearance: Light amber. Clear with light suspended haze. Beautiful. 5/6
Flavor: Smooth, appropriate body. Warm finish is a bit harsh. Hard to characterize, probably a buckwheat. Pleasant overall. Alcohol is at high end of medium. 20/24
Overall Impression: Suspect a buckwheat addition, but not primary. The finish balance is very good. This is one of the two best (so far) on this flight. Thank you. 9/10
Total 42/50

How cool is that?



  1. I think you will find the Mazer Cup to be a very fair and well judged competition. An inexperienced judge is not one of the requirements. The Mazer is not an East Coast competition either, it is worldwide, you received some excellent feedback, so best of luck next year!

  2. Thanks Ian. I'm quite sure they are both very respectable competitions. I was just surprised to learn that the international one didn't have certified judges. I think it's probably somewhat subjective no matter who you get and therefore a luck of the draw in some respects. Either way, happy to have placed in the first competition we entered!

  3. Ian, I agree with you. Overall, the Mazer Cup probably has better judges than the regional AHA competition. Still a bit of the luck of the draw. I judged a dry melomel in the regional (I didn't have anything in that category this time), and thought it was harsh, chemical, and alcoholic while my co-judge thought it was wonderful. Both of us had made and judged MANY meads, but had a difference of opinion.