styles of mead

The Styles and Nuances of Mead - February 10-11, 2018

Mead is popular. The industry is growing quickly. A new meadery is opening every three days here in the United States. It is time to learn about all the nuances this ancient and beautiful beverage holds. The Honey and Pollination Center at the Robert Mondavi Institute, UC Davis is hosting ‘The Styles and Nuances of Mead’, February 9 and 10, 2018.

This unique program will feature keynote speaker, Chrissie Zaerpoor, meadmaker, organic farmer and author of ‘The Art of Mead Tasting & Food Pairing’. In addition to opening the event, Zaerpoor will be helping to develop each of the tastings that will take place over the next two days. A centerpiece of the program will be the Center’s annual FEAST: A Celebration of Mead and Honey on Friday evening.

“As interest in mead grows in the country and the world,” says Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center. “Sommeliers, restaurateurs, chefs, mixologists and authors will have to familiarize themselves with the individual styles of mead. Each of these people will need to source wonderful meads to pair with their menus or from which to create creative cocktails,” she explains. This course will offer all of the participants the opportunity to delve deeply into mead and many of its variations.

Focusing on five mead variations: traditional, melomel (fruit based), braggot (beer), metheglyn (with herbs and spices) and cyser (aka cider), presenters have been selected who exemplify the best of the tradition.

The mead makers:

Ayele Solomon, owner of Bee D’Vine in San Francisco, CA, will explain how his Ethiopian background has informed his work as both a vintner and a conservationist. At Bee D’Vine, traditional Honey Wine is made simply with honey and spring water.

The Heart of Darkness, Black Agnes, the statement, Blackberry Sec, Ginger . . . the list of fruit based meads goes on and on. Much of the melomel well-known meadmaker Ken Schramm makes has fruit harvested in his own family orchards in Ferndale, Michigan. In addition to creating some of the world’s award winning melomels, Schramm is also the author of ‘The Compleat Meadmaker’, the seminal book in helping newcomers brew great mead.

Raconteur, Mike Faul, will share his story of growing up in Ireland, coming to the United States and eventually opening one of the largest meaderies in the country, Rabbit’s Foot Mead based in Sunnyvale, CA. Mike is one of the few mead makers who carries both a mead and beer license. In addition to a full line of meads and cysers, Rabbit’s Foot boasts wonderful award winning braggots – rich and heady beers made with honey.

Michele Kyncl and her husband Jeremy come to the world of mead through a healing lens. Holding degrees in herbal sciences, metheglyn was a natural area for them to explore. Metheglyn is the root word for medicine and the meads that fall into this category often were used to help heal the sick. Hierophant Meadery, located in Mead, Washington, specializes in this unusual area of mead making.

Everyone knows cider. Few understand that cider was originally an apple and honey concoction that was a favorite throughout the Americas. Sharon Gowan, owner of Gowan’s Orchards in Anderson Valley, California, owner of Gowan’s Heirloom Cider and founder of the California Cider Association and its related competitions and events will explore some of the growing pains her industry has had in its recent explosion in popularity.

Melomels have been the focus of research recently begun under the direction of Chik Brenneman, winemaker, in the Department of Viticulture and Enology. Using recipes from Ken Schramm and Pete Bakulic, president of the Mazer Cup International, the winery will run several permutations of melomels using several different yeasts. The preliminary results of this research will be shared with attendees as well as small tastes of all of the different permutations.

Additional presenters include members of the faculty and staff at UC Davis and Amy Hoopes, president of Wente Winery who will address the issue of marketing mead and its varietals from the viewpoint of the world of varietal wines.

The FEAST – a dining and teaching opportunity will be at the very center of the two day program on Friday evening. Featuring produce and meats selected from the farms of UC Davis, Chrissie Zaerpoor will also select perfect pairings for each of the courses. From Hors d’oeuvres to dessert and a unique cheese and honey comb course. This celebrated dinner has been a favorite for the past five years and now will be incorporated into the short course. 60 seats will be open to the public so individuals can join us for food and feasting. Huzzah!

For more information about the course or dinner, contact Amina Harris at


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