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akueck
02-27-2008, 06:03 PM
So I like to read Slate Magazine. Well, some of it. Today there is <a href="http://www.slate.com/id/2184361/">this article</a> which talks about mead reemerging as a commercial beverage. Shoutouts to Rabbits Foot, Redstone, and GotMead notwhithstanding, the article left me quite disappointed because it seemed to want to prove that mead can not be a commercial beverage of any import. The "mead won't pair with food" and "honey lacks acidity" conclusions were bland overstatements, at best.

Perhaps we need to educate this writer more thoroughly...

Yo momma
02-27-2008, 06:41 PM
The great numbers in this hobby should never be underestimated. I think this guy probably tried to make his own and made vinegar instead. :laughing7: Anyway, the numbers of home brewers and commercial brewers that are here is staggering compaired to the way this person has interpreted it. I think he has missed the whole point here. All it takes is a small number slowly growing to put mead back on the map. Where there articles about mead 5 years ago? Not as many as there is now. Hence popularity is growing! :icon_thumright:

Summersolstice
02-27-2008, 07:03 PM
This is why I don't read Slate. They tend to dumb down their articles to appeal to the lowest common denominator. The writer probably knocked out this article in a half hour and was speaking in generalities, promoting preconceptions, and reciting worn out cliches! I certainly don't fit his profile, nor do my meads. Perhaps mead is too subtle for him and he's just accustomed to an acidic, overoaked, high alcohol California Cab in his Reidel stemware.

ucflumberjack
02-27-2008, 10:43 PM
I cant figure out how to register on that site...... It has "washington post" somewhere in a URL though, so its just an attempt at scooping up a different groupd of readers, the group that doesnt read washington post, by the washington post. Im kind of annoyed, i suppose we all are. Oh well, all we can do is make better meads and spread the word, and taste.

webmaster
02-28-2008, 12:33 PM
Eh, I thought about writing the writer and pointing out that if he had taken an actual look at GM, he would have seen that mead is much more than a bunch of folks who play video games and SCA (although some of the best commercial meads out there, had some SCA influence, including Rabbitsfoot).

Then, I realized that if he was a *real* journalist, he would have done some actual homework. So, I'll just blog about it, and keep doing my best to promote mead.

I did notice that many of the folk responding to his article wouldn't know a mead if it jumped up and bit them......

Medsen Fey
02-28-2008, 02:06 PM
Obviously Mr. Day has been deprived of good mead. Perhaps we should organize a care package for him to send him a few bottles of good quality mead.

Medsen

Pewter_of_Deodar
02-28-2008, 04:25 PM
Obviously Mr. Day has been deprived of good mead. Perhaps we should organize a care package for him to send him a few bottles of good quality mead.


It concerns me that the mead he bashes is Redstone's Mountain Honey Mead. I have to say that with the abundance of homemade meads in the area, the only commercial meads I have had are Amana Colonies Honey Wine (yech), Chaucer's (double yech) and Long Island's dry red raspberry (good but I prefer sweet).

But I read into the article that the author comes from what I would refer to as the "wine snob" circles where anything but a very expensive bottle of very dry, very acidic, very full bodied red wine is beneath contempt. Certainly the fact that Vicki calls herself Meadwench shows that Vicki isn't taking herself too seriously and the fact that the author finds fault in her doing so shows me that he is taking himself way too seriously.

A very large Ren Faire I attend sells hard cider under the name of Apple Mead for $ 4 or $5 for a 10 ounce plastic cup full. When I sampled a glass and commented that I couldn't identify the type of honey used, the girl selling it said "There is no honey in Apple Mead". It is things like this that will prevent mead from becoming significantly mainstream, not the fact that we do not develop hoity-toity social circles to promote our existence.

I see Magnus (oops another non-serious name) at Long Island (and I am sure the other meaderies are similar) introducing dry and sweet meads with a variety of flavors and honeys that are slowly expanding until there will be something for everyone. But I suppose Magnus' stuff is unworthy of consideration since it has roots in the SCA and Magnus has probably played D&D in the past. What a line of bullsh....

This last year at Pennsic, we had a keg of Heather Mead. I am not sure if Vicki got any or not but it was made from heather honey that had been imported (non-commercially) from Wales. The stuff was ghastly! It had a body more like a stale beer than a fine wine. It was notably different from anything our camp had ever served. About 1 in 5 or 6 people that I served it to loved it. The remainder disliked it for the same reasons I disliked it. BUT those that were knowledgeable were all in agreement that this is the way a heather mead should taste because it is the nature of heather honey. So the proper response for me is NOT to condemn ALL meads because I tried one glass of heather mead and didn't like it. But this is exactly what it sounds like the author did...

Time to end the rant... good thing that we all love our mead!
Pewter

webmaster
02-28-2008, 05:43 PM
I've made heather mead, and it *does* have a 'beery' character to it. It is the flavor of the heather. Mine was beery for the first year or so, and as it aged, it mellowed. But, it is an acquired taste, IMO. I didn't get to taste the heather mead at your camp, Pewter, but then, I hardly made it *out* of camp last Pennsic, between the rain, the heat and me feeling crappy due to the torn rotator cuff, I languished up at Outlanders much of the week. This year will be better, and I've resolved to get out more.

On the article, I think had he taken the time to try some of the truly excellent meads out there (like Rabbitsfoot - who, by the way, goes *way* back in the SCA), Long Island (also SCA of course), Mountain Meadows (lifelong hippies who very likely played D&D), or a score of others, he would have had a different experience.

Mr. Day did seem to be speaking from a wine background, and from what his article said, he seems to have done only the lightest of researching. The very fact that he said that Gotmead was about 'what cup to drink mead from' tells me that he spent a grand total of a couple seconds on a page that popped up on Google, likely on 'history of mead'. Had he just searched 'mead', he would have found us at position 2, and seen the *large* number of articles about all aspects of mead and honey that abound on the main page. I know I was never contacted by him for comments or information.

Most of the rest of the writers who've done articles on mead in recent years at least call or email me for backgrounding and info/links. Reading the Slate article, I don't believe he actually spoke to *anyone* in the industry, just skimmed some Google links and made what sounded like snide comments about an industry he didn't take the time to learn anything about.

I'm contemplating emailing Mr. Day, but have not been able to turn up an email address for him, just his byline that he's 'a freelance writer for food and drink in Chicago'. If anyone can find a contact for this guy, I'd appreciate it...

On a side note, if that sort of article can make it up on a major online magazine, maybe I need to start writing again......after all, this guy got *paid* to write that stuff....

wayneb
02-29-2008, 11:51 AM
We've gotta keep in mind that Day is a critic, not a journalist. He's not required to do any research in order to form his opinion; his cursory glance at a few websites allowed him to quote just enough from them to "sound" as if he knew what he was talking about to the general public.

Critics should always be read for exactly what they provide -- criticism. Unfortunately, one is not required to be analytical, or even informed, to be paid to be a critic.

Too bad. The mead industry (and the hobby) could benefit from published, informed critique. That would serve to get mead a wider visibility with the general public. Perhaps a better approach than blogging Day into oblivion would be to organize a tasting of better quality meads for one or more of the known and respected wine critics out there. If they're properly primed for the occasion (perhaps with the differences they should expect from mead relative to wine) by someone like Ken Schramm (respected in both circles), they'd be able to write balanced critiques of the sampled products.

webmaster
02-29-2008, 12:25 PM
Yeah, but if you are going to be a critic, it behooves you to actually have a clue about what you're being critical about. Who would give any time to a critic of ballet who knew nothing about ballet, or to a food critic who didn't know a blintz from a pizza?

The recognized critics in the various industries generally have an excellent knowledge of what they critique. If he had done this sort of offhanded writeup of the wine industry, he would have been hounded out of the business, I think (or ignored and backwatered).

I think our best bet is to ignore him, provide *good* information on mead and the state of the industry, and move on. It is apparent that he isn't interested in providing good or reliable info. If we let it die, it will.

Meanwhile, I may do a writeup on the industry and see if I can sell it out there.....d'ya think the mags are interested in something real as opposed to speculation and uninformed rhetoric?

wayneb
02-29-2008, 01:10 PM
Vicky, if you have the time to do it, I'd say go for it! I'm sure that it would sell, although it would be easier to market if it were from a regular contributor. Still, I'm sure this kind of info article would find a home in a publication out there somewhere.

What do you think about my idea for getting some mainstream beverage critics to do a mead tasting/eval for publication?

webmaster
02-29-2008, 01:26 PM
I think its a great idea, Wayne. Now if we can find someone mainstream that *isn't* a wine snob......that might be a trick. Ken is well known in our circle, but I don't know if a mainstream wine critic would work with him to do something like this. I'll have to drop him a line and see what he thinks......

Launcelot
02-29-2008, 02:58 PM
Hmm...

You know, there are a few pretty intensive industry type things that go on in my area, I am in the tri-valley (Livermore/Dublin/Pleasanton) and there are a few very well respected wineries in the area, that get shunted due to not being in the Napa Valley.

I am fairly certain that Wente Host's some small format gatherings for review/tasting. I can look into it if anyone is interested.

We would basically have to get folks to donate their finest for a sampling, I know my work is *nowhere* near ready for primetime, but I would be happy to help organise.

--L

Dan McFeeley
02-29-2008, 03:33 PM
I think its a great idea, Wayne. Now if we can find someone mainstream that *isn't* a wine snob......that might be a trick. Ken is well known in our circle, but I don't know if a mainstream wine critic would work with him to do something like this. I'll have to drop him a line and see what he thinks......

Ken would be one of our best go-to guys since he is not only recognized among mead circles, he is also very knowledgable about wine. He lives in both worlds and can speak both languages with authority. Oskaar, of course, is also well versed in these areas -- Ken and Oskaar would be a dynamite combo!

Sure, with the right approach mainstream wine people would consider mead. I was interviewed for a St. Patrick's day article on mead for the online version of Wine Spectator magazine some years back (I never did see if the article appeared in the newstand version) so the interest is definitely there.

Dan McFeeley
02-29-2008, 03:46 PM
So I like to read Slate Magazine. Well, some of it. Today there is <a href="http://www.slate.com/id/2184361/">this article</a> which talks about mead reemerging as a commercial beverage. Shoutouts to Rabbits Foot, Redstone, and GotMead notwhithstanding, the article left me quite disappointed because it seemed to want to prove that mead can not be a commercial beverage of any import. The "mead won't pair with food" and "honey lacks acidity" conclusions were bland overstatements, at best.

Perhaps we need to educate this writer more thoroughly...


I just posted a lengthy reply in the discussion section for the article, citing my own research on the acidic properties of honey and mead, really working to emphasize why mead is *not* a honey wine.

Too bad so much of the tone of the article was smarmy. If the author had really tried, stayed away from bashing D&D and SCA folk, really rolled up his sleeves and did some good research, he could have written a fairly decent article.

Angus
02-29-2008, 05:17 PM
I am going to put a slightly different spin on this to see what you all think.

The article is not all bad. True, he does insult the SCA/D&D people without reason. Also true that he critiques Mead in a negative way. But, he also brings Mead more to the attention of the reading public. Which means Mead is a growing libation that is being noticed. He even states "But the recent interest in fermented honey has morphed it from an esoteric item (edit thinly veiled insult on D&D players) to a small yet legitimate commercial enterprise." This means that, despite the negative review, he approves of Mead and is helping to make our passion a more mainstream drink; which is our goal.

Further on, he praises the homebrewing community for helping to grow the beer culture here in the US. Important to note in that section that he calls these people beer geeks whilst praising their influence on beer. Perhaps this is his style, to use sarcasm when approving of something. He then proceeds to detail what he thinks could be the causes for Mead not becoming equal to wine or beer in popularity, such as the link to the SCA or Vicky's use of the name MeadWench. In other words, Mead does not take itself seriously, so the rest of the world will not either. But, despite his somewhat snide take on our whimsical and joyful approach to our obsession, his underlying intent may be somewhat positive; i.e. he wants Mead to succeed, but has his own opinions why he thinks it is not doing so (editors note - I see more Mead in stores all the time, so I am not sure why he has this opinion).

His biggest mistake in the article is his lack of research in the making of Mead. I think I can pinpoint where he went wrong. He mentions The Joy of Homebrewing, which we all know has Mead recipes that were designed along the lines of beer and wine (e.g. acid additions at the front end). So, rather than research the topic properly, he read the book and took it from there. Also, as Vicky pointed out, he probably Googled Mead and read the article about cups, rather than delve deeper into the art of making Mead.

Finally, I think the biggest injustice he provides Mead is his personal review of the drink. But remember, this is his opinion. One that can be negated with a solid and well written review of the types of Mead available on the market. If Vicky, Oskaar, Ken, or even a fellow Patron can do this and have it printed in a reputable wine magazine, his article will be just another point of view that will help bring Mead more to the attention of the public.

Angus

Oskaar
02-29-2008, 07:53 PM
Vicky and I are writing up a kind of response, but with an eye toward education folks. I'm going to refer back to food pairings here on Got Mead? as well as some other tibits of information that this critic really glossed over.

Cheers,

Oskaar

webmaster
02-29-2008, 09:52 PM
Yeah, you got your draft yet? Mail it over......I've got some stuff written up on the industry growth....

Dan McFeeley
03-01-2008, 12:19 PM
Check out Ken Schramm's reply -- brief, but very informative. It's a keeper!

http://fray.slate.com/discuss/forums/thread/916128.aspx?ArticleID=2184361

Dan McFeeley
03-01-2008, 01:32 PM
Oskaar wrote:


Vicky and I are writing up a kind of response, but with an eye toward education folks. I'm going to refer back to food pairings here on Got Mead? as well as some other tibits of information that this critic really glossed over.

and Vickie replied:



Yeah, you got your draft yet? Mail it over......I've got some stuff written up on the industry growth....

How's this for a title -- "Mead: It's Not Just for Pagans." ;D ;D ;D

Oskaar
03-01-2008, 04:12 PM
LOL, that's great. I was sidetracked for a while yesterday, but, I'll have something over to Vicky today or this evening.

Cheers,

Oskaar

ken_schramm
03-02-2008, 10:37 PM
I think the impact of the article will actually be positive. Any ink is good ink, they say. A couple of days after the article, I'm sitting in a hotel room in Munich and I have an quick look a how the book is doing on Amazon; it's at #966 overall - the highest ranking I've ever seen it reach. I thought it had to be a mistake. Nay, no mistake.

The feed back has been pretty balanced, and now it's up to us to determine how mead will be perceived by the general public.

I have a couple of articles on the state of the mead industry in the works, from different perspectives for different audiences. Perhaps it's time to shop them around.

Ken

webmaster
03-02-2008, 10:47 PM
I agree. Gotmead readership spiked nearly 100% the days since the article. I'd been working on some writeups on mead and the state of the industry as well, looks like it might be time to see if any of them are saleable...

Ken, thanks for a really well written response to the article. I really liked it.

Oskaar
03-03-2008, 12:28 AM
Ditto that Ken. Your response was very concise and well articulated. Vicky and I were kicking around a response thanking him for his article on mead and laying out some industry and meadmaking stats, but when we saw yours it was really the right response and we didnt' feel it necessary to say anymore or raise any debate over the article. I told Vicky that one of the best lessons I learned while I was working in Texas was "Never get in a written argument with someone that buys ink by the gallon"

So how are those Rieslings? I was hoping to get that information we spoke of at the competition to you before you left for Germany. Sorry about that. You missed a good after-party at the Outlook. We all missed you there too!

Cheers,

Pete

ken_schramm
03-03-2008, 09:39 PM
I haven't opened either of the Rieslings yet. I honestly bought based on the look of the bottles (egad, man!), but I will look them up and get some idea if they are ready now or need some time. The beers, OTOH, will be burning a hole in the fridge until they're gone. A selection of Andechs Klosterbrau products, and one lone Flensburger Pils. Mmmmm.

Thanks for the positive words on the response to Nicholas. I tried to pull the punches a bit but still get the point across. So he didn't call me, Vicki, Pete, Dan McFeeley or Julia... Oh well.

Ken

Oskaar
03-04-2008, 02:08 AM
OK Ken,

Shoot me now. Like a complete boob I completely spaced a set of Rieslings I tasted in June of 2006, not all were German so I've omitted the non-European ones and here is the list of Alsatian, Austrian and German Rieslings.


F.X. Pichler Riesling Smaragd Von den Terrassen (Austria)
Prager Riesling Smaragd Kaiserberg 2004 (Austria)
Hiedler Riesling Heiligenstein 2003 (Austria)
Nigl Riesling Senftenberger Piri “Privat” 2003 (Austria)
Domain Ostertag Riesling Heissenberg 2003 (Alsace)
Albert Mann Riesling Cuvee Albert 2004 (Alsace)
Albert Boxler Riesling Grand Cru Sommerberg “L31D” 2003 (Alsace)
Albert Boxler Riesling Grand Cru Sommerberg “L31DII” 2002 (Alsace)
Zind Humbrecht Riesling Clos Windsbuhl 2002 (Alsace)
J.L. Wolf Riesling Wachenheimer 2004 (Germany)
Schloss Saarstein Riesling 2004 (Germany)
Monchhof Riesling Kabinett Urzig Wurzgarten 2005 (Germany)
Joh. Jos. Prum Riesling Spatlese Graacher Himmelreich 2004 (Germany)
Joh. Jos. Christoffel Riesling Auslese Urziger Wurzgarten 2004 (Germany)

The Albert Boxler L31D was my favorite out of the whole line-up.

Hope that helps,

Pete