Tysen and I recently returned from an epic weekend at the Mazer Cup. Here’s a quick breakdown of what happened, followed by some links to a few other recaps about the event.
For those who have not heard of the Mazer Cup, it is the largest mead only competition in the world. At 368 home and 327 commercial entrants this year, there is no other place in the world that provides the opportunity to taste and experience so many high quality meads (although the Kookoolan World Meadery Tasting Room comes close with over 150 commercial varieties).
Before the competition started, we were already hard at work. First order of business: the annual meeting of the American Mead Makers Association (AMMA).
American Mead Makers Association Annual Meeting
If you are a meadmaker in the United States and you haven’t joined the AMMA, shame on you! The AMMA is an organizing body for professional meadmakers, but offers value for home meadmakers as well.
The Annual Meeting recapped the efforts AMMA has made since they began just three short years ago. In this year alone, they have made progress with helping define mead definitions in use by the TTB as evidenced by the recently released Honey Wine (Mead) FAQ, worked with UPS to ensure that meadmakers can ship their meads to prospective customers (something that until recently had been blocked because of confusion about mead’s definition), and continued spreading knowledge about the meadmaking community through the American Mead Maker, the Journal of the AMMA.
A new website is in the works, as well as new avenues to communicate with the Board to understand the AMMA undertakings. If you ever want to make mead on a professional level, or are already doing it but haven’t joined, in all seriousness take a look. The mead industry is growing rapidly, and the AMMA provides an opportunity to help guide the industry and control its trajectory.
The Mazer Cup 2015 Commercial Competition
Friday morning Tysen and I woke early to attend our first Mazer Cup competition. We were some of the first arrivals, and immediately started helping out with registration for the stewards and judges.
If you haven’t been a part of a mead or beer judging event, it is no small feat to pull off. The Mazer Cup staff, stewards, and judges deserve a healthy round of applause for all their work pulling this event off.
For the Commercial Competition, Tysen “worked” pouring meads for the judges, taking just a few samples himself. (I think he counted 24 different meads tasted for the day!) I ran meads back and forth from the staging area and helped take “orders” for new meads to go out to the judging tables.
If this doesn’t make sense now, we will have a few more posts coming up in the next few weeks about the Mazer Cup, explaining what we learned at the Mazer Cup and providing some takeaways in case you want to host your own competition in the future.
The commercial judging lasted until 6:00pm, and after a quick bite, it was time to return for the Mead Mixer!
The Mead Mixer
The Mead Mixer is a mead tasting event open to the general public that coincides with the Mazer Cup competition. This year, 23 meaderies served more than 76 meads at the event. And pours were unlimited, so for those in attendance it was quite an experience with the flavors available.
The Cider Sage beat us to the punch this year with a recap of the Mead Mixer, so I’ll send you his way for a better review. Tysen and I had a great time, but didn’t keep any tasting notes of everything we tried. However, one really cool part was White Winter Winery‘s distilled mead. I can’t find any information on their website about the concoction, but can attest to its deliciousness.
Jeff Herbert, editor of the American Mead Maker, the Journal of the AMMA, had printouts of all of the past issues. We stopped by and found our Crowdfunding your Meadery article, as you can see here.
A complete list of the meaderies pouring at the Mixer is below:
- Chaucer’s Cellars
- Colorado Honey Wine
- Corpo – Polish Meaderies
- Golden Coast Mead
- Hidden Legend Winery
- Honey Jack
- Hunters Moon Meadery
- Meadery of the Rockies
- Meridian Hive Meadery
- Moonlight Meadery
- Moonstruck Meadery
- Mountain Meadows Mead
- Munro Honey and Meadery
- Nectar Creek Mead
- Pirtle Winery
- Redstone Meadery
- Sky River Mead
- Sunset Heights Meadery
- Superstition Meadery
- The Meadery @ Vino Salida Wine Cellars
- White Winter Winery
After a few short hours sleeping off the generously poured libations, it was back to stewarding for the Mazer Cup Home Competition.
The Mazer Cup 2015 Home Competition
For the Home Competition, Tysen and I switched rolls. I helped out pouring meads for the judges, and he worked as a table steward.
If you volunteer at the Mazer Cup, these are the two positions to learn the most knowledge about mead. The pourers get to sample everything in the room. Admittedly, this is more valuable during the Commercial Competition when you have the full product information in front of you. The Home Competition only offers the name of the mead being judged, not its ingredients.
Table stewards get to converse with the mead judges at their table, and are responsible for tabulating the table scores. Friendly judges also offer samples of the meads being judged, which is incredibly valuable for identifying faults and rare flavors in meads.
Despite having 40 more meads to judge, the Home Competition flew by during the judging process. The table setup in the pouring room greatly expedited the pours, and only 2 judges per mead sped up the consolidation of scores (there are 3 judges per mead for the Commercial Competition). Before we knew it, our judging experiences were over, and it was off to rest and get some food from CB & Potts before the final event of the weekend.
The Mazer Cup 2015 Award Ceremony
Lastly, we found ourselves at the Mazer Cup Award Ceremony. It was a bittersweet ending to an awesome experience all around. Pete Bakulic, the Mazer Cup President, presented all the winners in attendance with their medals (Commercial) and mazers (home).
We were treated to some delicious deserts, as well as many of the award winning commercial meads. Commercial meadery entrants are required to send in multiple bottles for the competition. The extra bottles go towards the Award Ceremony tables and to volunteers as appreciation gifts.
Congratulations to all the winners. And to those who came close! Getting pushed to the 2nd round at this competition is in itself an accomplishment.
Tysen and I had such a great time, we plan to make it a yearly visit. Three straight days talking, drinking, and all around enjoying the mead industry really was awesome! We met some awesome people, and hope to keep in touch. And above all, we are looking forward to another trip next year!
For those looking for photos of the event, check out the links here. They’ll only be up for a short while, so get them while you can!
Meadology, a documentary in the works on the mead industry. We had a great time talking with Shelley and Luke.