Mead in glasses in front of people tasting

Raise the Bar in the World of Mead

Mead: Excellence and Quality Assurance Class

If there ever was a mead course you cannot afford to miss, the upcoming Excellence and Quality Assurance is it! Focusing on Excellence, the Honey and Pollination Center has drawn together a most outstanding and prestigious group of presenters and topics – all designed to help each mead maker grow and expand their abilities.

Kicking off more than three days of workshops, the keynote discussion on excellence Wednesday evening features luminaries in the world of beverage and food. There is so much for this developing industry to learn from those that have achieved a level of excellence in their chosen paths.

Presenters include:

  • Ray Daniels, the creator of the Cicerone Program for Beer, a certification program for those who wish to be beer experts, has helped raise awareness and understanding in the world of malting.
  • Amy Guittard, Chief Marketing Officer of Guittard Chocolate, leads their 150-year-old company into new and creative directions.
  • Prof. Andrew Waterhouse will discuss how the wine industry has grown and developed, achieving a level of excellence we have all come to expect.
  • Ari Weinzweig, will be joining us by zoom to explain how a small deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan – Zingerman’s – has become known worldwide for selecting the most excellent products you can sell, both in person and online.

Throughout the program, the objective will be to deepen knowledge in all the facets that impact making mead.

The real deep dive begins on Thursday, when the entire day will focus on HONEY. Sessions will cover learning how to taste honey and discern varietal flavors through sensory analysis experiences, testing, sourcing ingredients and production. In addition, we will begin to learn how to detect the various honey used in traditional meads. Presenters include Amina Harris of the Honey and Pollination Center and creator of the UC Davis Honey Aroma and Flavor Wheel, as well as Joyce Schlachter, a quality assurance officer at Crockett Honey, Tobias Wiezorek of Tentamus, a food testing laboratory and many others.

Kicking off INGREDIENT DAY, students will learn about melomels and fruit with Ken Schramm, owner of Schramm’s Mead. Ken will explain how Schramm’s searches out and tries to grow, the finest fruit to make their sought-after limited production meads. Alyson Schramm, co-owner of the meadery, will join Ken as they lead a select and guided tasting of their products, explaining the pitfalls and experiments that helped them develop their final product.

Michelle Scandalis and Jeremy Kyncl, owners of Hierophant Mead will discuss their truly unusual and fabulous metheglyns. Both of these talented mead makers have a background in herbal science that has helped to inform their unique products. The pair will lead a tasting of Hierophant’s offerings, explaining how and why they developed the blends that have made their meads totally unique.

Fruits, spices, and herbs are not the only ingredients in mead. Participants will learn about and be encouraged to experiment with various yeasts with Prof. Emeritus Linda Bisson, co-author of Principles and Practices of Winemaking. Prof. Glen Fox, Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences, will address a very important ingredient – water. A huge amount of attention is focused on water in the world of beer – and very little in mead. Considering that some meads are almost 80% water, that needs to change!

PRODUCTION, the importance of sanitation, bottling and packaging will be the focus of Saturday morning with the afternoon focusing on presentation and EVALUATION.

‘Striving for excellence by setting standards and guidelines will be presented by Ray Daniels, who has done just that in the world of mead. What makes judging and talking about wine, beer and spirit easier than mead is that each has baseline criteria for critical evaluation. Daniels will discuss the importance of this and how it can help the array of mead take its place on the world stage.

It is not just how your mead tastes – or looks – it is also about how you present it to others. A discussion of proper service techniques and how something so simple can influence the overall drinking experience will follow.

We can’t talk about judging a mead without talking about the judges who do the work. There are many mead competitions in the world, but more often than not, meads are entered into various wine competitions for the single (yes, SINGLE) mead category – how many styles of mead did you say there are? Traci Dutton, a Wine Educator at Copia, the Culinary Institute of America, St. Helena and Napa Valley Community College has taken this situation very seriously. At the many competitions that Traci judges, she has taken it upon herself to help open the world of mead to trained wine panelists. This is just a beginning as more and more meads will get entered into more and more wine competitions.

The three-day program will close with a most unusual evaluation program bringing together judges of wine, beer and mead and each of our attendees to critically evaluate and asses six meads that have been entered into this mini critique. Attendees will try each of the meads and write down their evaluations. Each of our trained judges will discuss their thoughts in hopes of helping our attendees understand what is considered important to the process of evaluating and awarding medals.

It’s a packed program – but there is even more! The Mead Institute is hosting a Mead Extravaganza. Hop on the bus and get off at The HIVE in Woodland, CA. Meads, appetizers and music will be happening Friday evening. You won’t want to miss this special event where you will be able to taste 30 varietal honeys and a huge assortment of meads amongst friends and mead makers.

Find out more and register on the event webpage.

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