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BrewinNColorado
03-22-2011, 12:00 PM
The other day while driving home from work and passing several wine stores, I started pondering why mead isn't more mainstream then what it presently is. With there being (to my knowledge) over 150 different meaderies in the U.S and around the world, why isn't mead more mainstream?

Could it be because of...

meaderies are small so don't have a marketing budget?
laws make it harder to market?
general public is more accustomed to wine and unwilling to try new products?
mead doesn't fit into how consumers are drinking wine?
Wine stores and restaurants are reluctant to add mead for whatever reason.
Or is there something else I missed?

The reason I ask is there are a large number of meaderies and a larger number of home brewers making mead. With that, one would think that there would be a larger variety of mead on the shelf and served in restaurants. When I go into the larger wine stores in my area, there are only a few local meads on the shelf and none of the restaurants serve mead. Is this true in your areas as well?

With the very limited selection, it is really difficult to try different meads, and I cannot bring myself to order online.

What are your thoughts on what we (home brewers) can do to change this?

Thanks!
Michael

fatbloke
03-22-2011, 12:44 PM
Meads dropped out of favour during the industrial revolution, because it was mainly a local brew and as places attracted people, they found it safer to drink "small beer" as the water was made safe/drinkable by the brewing process.

Obviously that excludes places with a long history of mead making.

Mead as we know it now, is more to do with the historical rediscovery. Plus the use of wine making techniques.

The re-enactment people and stuff like Harry Potter, have done a lot to spread the word, but it could help if someone had a decent marketing budget.........

AToE
03-22-2011, 01:35 PM
That's a pretty complex question, and I can't answer why mead fell out of popularity in most of Europe over the last couple hundred years - and the fact that it's been "gone" so long is a huge part of why it's not popular now.

Also, pound for pound honey is about the most expensive type of sugar you can possibly ferment other than maple syrup (I'm sure a few others too). So pricing is a huge problem, though many meaderies have gotten the prices down (but as far as I've seen nobody's managed to get the price down on dry meads that require longer than a couple months of aging, and those are likely to be the ones to convert wine drinkers in my opinion).

Also, many commerical meaderies offer meads that are frankly just awfull to most people's tastes, and once people decide they hate mead they're generally pretty stubborn. Either the meads are too sweet, or spiced in an unpleasant way, but I have never met a single person who's had commercial mead bought in north america that's liked it. (Granted I'm tucked away in Canada where our mead selection is even lower, but seriously - every single person I've ever mentioned mead to that even knew what it was said "yuck, that stuff is terrible" (other than those who had it in Europe, even them said it was too sweet though)).


#1 thing is that people don't know about it because it's been essentially gone for the last hundreds of years. That's a huge hill to climb frankly.

Tiwas
03-22-2011, 02:11 PM
Speaking of Europe, all I can say is that it used to be punishable by death for a farmer for not brewing his or her own brew. Then it became punishable by death to brew mead, as it was a heathen drink. So...punishable by death not brewing, punishable by death for brewing mead, and no grapes...Kind of computes ;)

Braxton
03-22-2011, 02:44 PM
Yeah, I've often thought that the expense of honey is probably the biggest issue. But then again they've managed somehow to carve out a tiny wine industry here in Minnesota, where the climate is quite inhospitable to grapes, through massive research and investment.

On the other hand, isn't is cool that mead isn't mainstream? One of the things that I love about Gotmead is that homegrown research into mead techniques and ingredients is so alive. With beer or wine it feels like everything has been solved or developed already by the big companies. Mead is still mysterious to me.

JayH
03-22-2011, 03:35 PM
In 2009 the last year I could find numbers for, the average cost of grain for a brewery in the US was $600-$900 per ton; the major difference being packaging.

If you figure for a standard British style session beer as a home brewer I’m using somewhere between 15 and 20 pounds for a 5 gallon batch. A professional system will have a far greater efficiency then I do, so just for fun figure it at about 3 lbs a gallon. That comes out to somewhere depending upon style etc. of around $1.50 a gallon for your fermentable sugars.

The best price I can get on orange blossom honey (by chance I just priced this a couple of days ago) is around $1.95 a pound if I’m willing to buy in a 55 gallon drum and around $1.93 a pound if I buy a tote (250 gallons).

If you figure between 2.5 and 3 pounds of honey is required for each gallon of mead, you start to see the problem; you’re spending around 4 times as much for your fermentable sugars as you will with beer. It makes beer much easier to brew at a profit. And this does not even take into consideration the cost of aging the mead etc.

On the other hand Grape juice will run you anywhere from around $7.00 a gallon up to as much as $16-$25 a gallon for a good must, at least this is the price they one place quoted me, I admit to not having done real in depth research.

So if we compare mead to beer there is no way to be price competitive, but compared to wine mead could be very competitive price wise.

One side note, my source for honey warned me to expect it to go up another 50 cents a gallon over the next 6 months or so.

AToE
03-22-2011, 03:52 PM
Grape juice for wine is seriously that expensive? I never would have thought that in a million years (when you say "good must" what price range (retail) per bottle are we talking about? A 15$ bottle, or a $50 bottle etc?).

fatbloke
03-22-2011, 03:57 PM
So, given that there's a few different perspectives there, all of them valid, albeit for different reasons, it sort of explains why, in different locations, it faded off and went out of fashion.....

Effectively, our meads, might have historical roots, but for the most part, it's a whole new drink to most.

The economic elements that JayH highlights, just add to why it's hard to make the financial case for mead. Of course, there's quite a few both here and elsewhere who're having a damn good go at "earning a wage" from mead, but without it being easy for a large scale commercial operation, it's always likely to be an uphill struggle........

Not forgetting, just as the likes of us lot learning how/teaching others/being enthusiastic about meads, you have the problem of CCD. While it's a problem for us, as it has the potential to make the cost of the raw material sky rocket, it's a bigger issue for agriculture/horticulture.....

regards

fatbloke

Tiwas
03-22-2011, 03:57 PM
AToE: You see the difference in prices when you compare your thought to my initial one of "honey is really that cheap??"

;)

newbee17
03-22-2011, 04:32 PM
In 2009 the last year I could find numbers for, the average cost of grain for a brewery in the US was $600-$900 per ton; the major difference being packaging.

If you figure for a standard British style session beer as a home brewer I’m using somewhere between 15 and 20 pounds for a 5 gallon batch. A professional system will have a far greater efficiency then I do, so just for fun figure it at about 3 lbs a gallon. That comes out to somewhere depending upon style etc. of around $1.50 a gallon for your fermentable sugars.

The best price I can get on orange blossom honey (by chance I just priced this a couple of days ago) is around $1.95 a pound if I’m willing to buy in a 55 gallon drum and around $1.93 a pound if I buy a tote (250 gallons).

If you figure between 2.5 and 3 pounds of honey is required for each gallon of mead, you start to see the problem; you’re spending around 4 times as much for your fermentable sugars as you will with beer. It makes beer much easier to brew at a profit. And this does not even take into consideration the cost of aging the mead etc.

On the other hand Grape juice will run you anywhere from around $7.00 a gallon up to as much as $16-$25 a gallon for a good must, at least this is the price they one place quoted me, I admit to not having done real in depth research.

So if we compare mead to beer there is no way to be price competitive, but compared to wine mead could be very competitive price wise.


One side note, my source for honey warned me to expect it to go up another 50 cents a gallon over the next 6 months or so.



Wish i could get honey for that price i have to pay nearly 7euro for 2lbs and the only honey i can get is supermarket brands

JayH
03-22-2011, 05:19 PM
Grape juice for wine is seriously that expensive? I never would have thought that in a million years (when you say "good must" what price range (retail) per bottle are we talking about? A 15$ bottle, or a $50 bottle etc?).

That is the price for a must if you are making bottles of wine in the $25 and up range. The $7.00 a gallon is going to leave with a $8-12 bottle of wine. This assumes of course that you know what you are doing to start with.


For those of you in other parts of the world, the only reason it is that cheap is because I'm lucky enough to be near a large wholesaler of honey and I buy a lot. My last purchase of honey from them was 900 lbs. (not all for me, but 240 lbs of did find its way home). I was comparing pricing that one would expect to get if working in Southern California on a commercial basis. While not as expensive as yours, if you buy just a couple of pounds at a time it is far more expensive than that. I believe it is in the $5-8lb range in stores around here.

Medsen Fey
03-22-2011, 05:26 PM
Grape juice for wine is seriously that expensive?.

Some is, some isn't.

A few years ago, before the collapse in prices, Gallo was paying $150 per TON of grapes. That translates to about $1.25 per gallon of wine. Tastes like it too. ;D

Edit - last year they were paying $190

AToE
03-22-2011, 05:28 PM
Even 7$ per gallon is far more expensive than I would have expected for a $15 dollar wine, that's about $1.40 cost per bottle just for the grapes alone. I guess that wrecked that misconception of mine!

That does put mead closer to the same price bracket for fermentables even on a smaller scale, though aging is still an issue cost-wise anyways.

So we're back to it simply being nearly completely unknown, and my comments about a large amount of commercial mead being (if not necessarily "bad") contrary to popular taste (either due to sweetness or extreme spicing).

EDIT: Does anyone know what price range of wine sells best? I would imagine $10-$15 per bottle is the biggest seller, thats the range everyone I know buys in anyways, not the bottom of the barrel cheap, but not hard on the wallet either.

wayneb
03-22-2011, 06:28 PM
Actually, a few years back I read in some pro winemaking publication or another (can't remember which one), that the optimum price point for many wines was around $15/bottle. Prices much lower than that conveyed the impression of low-quality to the majority of the public, but prices much higher than that limited the market to "high end" only buyers.

Of course, this was all before the economic downturn of the past few years....

sigristrl@gmail.com
03-22-2011, 06:45 PM
Well, not that I have much research to back my claim:

In America there's a large group whom have a prejudice against anything seen as "unprocessed" hippy [expletive redacted]. Even craft beers are in underdog in America. Budweiser, Miller, and Coors account for roughly 90% (95%?) of all beer sales in America. This is thanks in very large part to the the Prohibition of Alcohol, and the laws that passed that create a distribution network that supports the winner takes most situation. (See documentary "Beer Wars" for more).

Albeit this was probably just the Coup de Grace for any meaderies of that era. I don't have any statistics for that time frame, but compare the decade prior to the decade after prohibition [legitimate] breweries had gone from numbering in the hundreds to just under 50; and by the 80s that number was less than 10 do to branding.

It is my opinion that (at least in America) that the average consumer does not trust anything that's not a mainstream brand, and is therefore not willing to try anything novel unless a brand name endorses it. The average Joe Schmoe wouldn't like mead unless it was endorsed by Budweiser...

Which leads me to my second point: If you travel too far out of the Amateur Brewing Circle, (again, at least in America) Meads are associated with basement dwelling, renaissance fair going, 40 year old virgins at worst; and weed smoking hippies at best.

Most people don't care to look just past the surface to see the underlaying awesomeness of craft beers and meads. Our drinking culture, distribution, and advertising supports drinking cheap, strong, and mostly bland alcohols in order to get [expletive redacted]'D UP!

Though, on a bright note:
Price may not be too huge a hurdle, craft beers have taken off in the last decade, and if the mead industry can find the same enterprising spirit, they may must be able to carve out a sizeable niche in the market and become mainstream.
After all, the market has proven there is a exponentially growing niche for premium intoxicants.

Anyway, that's my two cents

mfalenski
03-22-2011, 08:47 PM
I think there are more than a few factors that are keeping mead "down"... Inaccessibility, dislike, and ignorance to name but a few. I know there are no meads for sale in the PA wine stores that are worth anything. If someone does stumble upon one like Bunratty or Chaucers it changes their idea of mead for the worse. I was talking to a winery manager and she said she tried to make mead once and that it was a slimy gross mess that she dumped down the drain. She said she had no idea what she was doing, but do you still think that taints her perception of mead? Most definitely so. I have been at wine tasting and homebrew events that people attempted mead and a majority of it was awful. People who have never had it before think that’s how it’s supposed to taste and don’t try it again when offered. I had to beg people to try mine at a tasting event last fall, and when they tried it most of the reactions were of surprise. “I had mead before, and it didn’t taste like this!” There needs to be a public (re)education on mead. I always tell people that it’s the oldest fermented beverage that no one’s ever heard of.

mccann51
03-22-2011, 08:57 PM
I agree with you're point, Sigristrl. That said, the craft beer industry is growing, while the BMC beers are not, so I think this conception is being challenged in more culturally-rich areas.

So the important question is: are the meaderies growing? If not, then we must ask why, if so... great.

I think price and - more importantly - availability has been a huge limiting factor for mead production. Tradition (ie pre-industrial) homebrewing of mead is no problem considering the amounts of honey necessary, but if you scale up to mass-production of mead, you're bound to encounter a bottle-neck. Honey production is large, but it's nowhere near barley or grape production. I am conjecturing, but it seems like producing honey on the same scale as either of these two products would be very difficult and time-consuming, and there simply wouldn't be enough ecological "room" for that many bees.

wildoates
03-22-2011, 08:58 PM
First off, I'm amazed by the number of people I've run across who don't even know what mead is. Don't people read?! At my first mead tasting party last year, several people begged off because they either hadn't heard of mead at all or had heard that it was some sort of inferior uber sweet wine-like stuff. They weren't interested in trying it until the people who did come raved about how amazing it was, and how varied it could be.

Secondly, I agree that some people just don't trust homebrew or craft potables. A couple of years ago my son and his roomie brought some of their extremely-well crafted home-brewed beer to our family reunion, and a lot of people wouldn't even try it because it was home-brewed and they didn't think it would be any good. They kept on drinking the bud light and other mass-produced beers, sucks to be them, more for the discerning folk in the crowd, too bad, so sad for you. I've had people resist trying my meads for the same reason.

How do we overcome all this? Well as a consumer and homebrewer, I say the heck with them. But if I was a commercial meadery, I'd try to do what Brad and the rest of our pros try to do, which is produce an excellent product and try to get the word out various ways. When we went to the Ren Faire last autumn, Rabbit's Foot had several booths dispensing mead, and they had lines all day long. Clearly the sort of folks that attend Ren Faires know about, enjoy, and are willing to pay top dollar for mead, but the average wine drinkers usually aren't, don't, and won't.

What I'd like to see is a relationship between mead makers and, say BevMo, where a variety of quality mead is featured at the front of the store, Instead of the bottom of the back shelf. I'd like to see the BevMo employees be trained about mead so they can recommend it like they do wine. I'd like to see BevMo offer mead tastings like they do wine and beer tastings, but without a good selection of meads in the shop, well, there's nothing to taste.

And yeah, it's expensive, because the honey's expensive and it takes a long time to make. But if it's marketed wisely, that can be turned into an asset, not a negative.

mmclean
03-22-2011, 09:23 PM
I think price and - more importantly - availability has been a huge limiting factor for mead production. Tradition (ie pre-industrial) homebrewing of mead is no problem considering the amounts of honey necessary, but if you scale up to mass-production of mead, you're bound to encounter a bottle-neck. Honey production is large, but it's nowhere near barley or grape production. I am conjecturing, but it seems like producing honey on the same scale as either of these two products would be very difficult and time-consuming, and there simply wouldn't be enough ecological "room" for that many bees.

You can buy honey by the train tanker full. I don't that will be a limiting factor. The more honey used, the more that will be produced...somewhere.

mmclean
03-22-2011, 09:34 PM
First off, I'm amazed by the number of people I've run across who don't even know what mead is. Don't people read?! At my first mead tasting party last year, several people begged off because they either hadn't heard of mead at all or had heard that it was some sort of inferior uber sweet wine-like stuff. They weren't interested in trying it until the people who did come raved about how amazing it was, and how varied it could be.


I told my friend that I was making mead and he said, "What's that?" So I told him, "Vikings, Mead Halls of Valhalla, Necter of the gods...and he said, "Oh, I didn't know you meant that."

He's working on finnishing up his PhD.

AToE
03-22-2011, 09:54 PM
I can't see a limit to honey being very easy to reach, there's always more flowers out there, and if there's the demand then people will start more and more hives (I would think).

epetkus
03-22-2011, 09:54 PM
I'll throw in my $.02.

From a fermentable sugar point of view, here in FL I can purchase OB honey for $1.25/gal if I buy large qty's based upon 55gal drums. In other parts of the country, I'd have to add transportation costs to that. So compared to beer, the fermentable sugars may a bit more expensive, but that's looking through a soda straw at a larger picture.

Another way to look at it would be raw material costs vs alcohol by volume (ABV) of the finished product. In this case, mead probably can be commercial manufactured for the same or even lower costs than beer. Keep in mind, most beers utilize (expensive) hops in their creation, along with other ingredients that add to the raw costs.

As for wine material comparisons, it seems to me that the commercial wine industry (at least in the US if not around the world) has so moved this to a science as to commoditize grape juice to where actual cost variances are minimized, and probably comparable to honey must. That's not to say that some wines/wineries don't incur greater material costs, I'm just commenting in general.

The BIGGEST difference (in production) to me seems to be in the aging, and the associated costs. If a decent (not blow your socks off nor horrible) wine can be bottled and shipped in just a few months after grape pressing, that is a HUGE advantage over mead where to achieve the same "goodness" level needs at least a year of aging, if not more. Keep in mind, those gallons of aging of mead need somewhere to live during that time, and that costs money that has to be included in the final bottle price.

Of course, culture, availability of high volume, quality product obviously comes into play here as well, but we are a LONG way away from having a Gallo, or Woodbridge equivalent in the mead industry. (No, I don't necessarily hold these up as the quality standard to shoot for, but simply their approach to production, marketing, distribution, etc.)

Eric

JayH
03-22-2011, 10:35 PM
1st I suspect that you meant $1.25 a pound not $1.25 a gallon. That is still a very good price, but if you could get it at 11 cents a pound I would drive down there and bring back a tanker truck full.

I agree that the cost of sugar in mead is more expensive than for beer and that beer helps to make up that difference with hops and such. At the same time the cost of sugar for mead is very competitive with the cost in wine. In addition the aging of mead and wine is very similar.

I have visited commercial meaderies in this country that have told me that they produce their standard meads in as little as a month or so. And this was a large (by our standards) craft meaderie that we would all consider producing good mead.

Bottom line, on a price basis we could compete with wine very easily. The trouble is getting people to buy it.

It is going to take a change in the publics conception of mead, this is the reason I so enjoy getting groups of people together that have never even considered mead and turning them "onto" mead.

I do think this is coming, how fast, though is anyones guess.

akueck
03-22-2011, 11:46 PM
15 years ago we'd be having the same conversation about non-macro-lagers and microbrews. The momentum is on the upswing, time is on the side of mead. The question we should be asking: how do I get in on the ground floor? The time to do the experiments, test the boundaries, and go nuts is now.

tweak'e
03-23-2011, 12:56 AM
Also, many commerical meaderies offer meads that are frankly just awfull to most people's tastes, and once people decide they hate mead they're generally pretty stubborn.

absolutely.

i recently had two locally made meads and frankly i will NEVER buy mead again.
its just simply crap products thats the problem. its no different from a cafe or restaurant serving up crap food.

the catch is one bad meadery stuffs it up for all of them. with wine a person will just not buy that brand again but with mead they will not buy ANY mead again.

akueck
03-23-2011, 01:14 AM
the catch is one bad meadery stuffs it up for all of them. with wine a person will just not buy that brand again but with mead they will not buy ANY mead again.

It's not just mead. I know folks who tried one beer once and won't try any beer ever again (beer is quite a large universe). Some people swear off all red, or white, or pink wines after one bad taste. A bad night with tequila turns into a lifelong aversion. Heck, even sushi, tofu, and Chinese takeout suffer from the same tendency of people to generalize.

Where mead suffers in this regard, I think, is that to the average person "mead" is all one thing (just like "beer" is all one thing to some people, but not as many). More people realize that there are at least red, white, and pink wines from different places in the world. Fewer understand that mead can be even more diverse.

tweak'e
03-23-2011, 01:45 AM
even i didn't know you could get so many different varieties. i've only seen traditional for sale. the most people know is mead = honey.
i think mead is worse for it because it tends to be treated as such a niche product.

AToE
03-23-2011, 02:06 AM
My dad keeps saying he doesn't like mead, which always makes me laugh - traditional mead sure, but "mead"? That's as wide a category as all the rest of alcohol combined - but people don't know/understand that.

JayH
03-23-2011, 02:10 AM
One of my biggest fans is the owner of a local Tapa bar. He has a fair selection of beers on tap. He hates sweet wines, and it took me almost a year before you would finally taste one of my meads. I brought him two bottles one of a dry traditional mead and one of my petite sirah pyments. Now he wants more and says he would carry them if I would make them form him.

While he had tasted meads as a kid in Argentina, he thought of them with sickeningly sweet honey drinks.

For now I trade mead for food, pretty good deal for both of us, and in case you are curious, it is just for his own consumption.

K5MOW
03-23-2011, 08:07 AM
That's a pretty complex question, and I can't answer why mead fell out of popularity in most of Europe over the last couple hundred years - and the fact that it's been "gone" so long is a huge part of why it's not popular now.

Also, pound for pound honey is about the most expensive type of sugar you can possibly ferment other than maple syrup (I'm sure a few others too). So pricing is a huge problem, though many meaderies have gotten the prices down (but as far as I've seen nobody's managed to get the price down on dry meads that require longer than a couple months of aging, and those are likely to be the ones to convert wine drinkers in my opinion).

Also, many commerical meaderies offer meads that are frankly just awfull to most people's tastes, and once people decide they hate mead they're generally pretty stubborn. Either the meads are too sweet, or spiced in an unpleasant way, but I have never met a single person who's had commercial mead bought in north america that's liked it. (Granted I'm tucked away in Canada where our mead selection is even lower, but seriously - every single person I've ever mentioned mead to that even knew what it was said "yuck, that stuff is terrible" (other than those who had it in Europe, even them said it was too sweet though)).


#1 thing is that people don't know about it because it's been essentially gone for the last hundreds of years. That's a huge hill to climb frankly.

Well I like some commercial Meads that I have tryed. But I am a person that likes sweet wine and a sweet mead tast a little like some of your white wines.

Roger

wayneb
03-23-2011, 11:18 AM
I believe that mead is at a nexus point; given the recent mass public exposure in popular entertainment media (movies, primarily), more people have at least heard the term, and they associate it with an alcoholic beverage, than ever before. However, most of the stereotypical portrayals of mead do not present it in a favorable light, so in this case the uptick in exposure may be a two-edged sword. However, many of the successful established commercial meaderies in North America (those that have been around a while) have been successful not because they are trying to turn out a stellar product; rather they have been expert at controlling production and storage costs, so their product can compete successfully with commercial wines, despite a very (until now) limited niche market. Many of their meads have historically been what we might regard as little more than sweet swill.

However, as the re-emergence of real beer (aka the craft brewing industry) in the US demonstrates, the public will eventually come to accept and then demand, the best-of-the-best in any beverage product, if that product is presented to enough of them such that interest is piqued in a critical mass of individuals. I was around at the re-inception of home brewing, which spawned the renaissance of the craft brew industry in the US (my first batches of beer were brewed even earlier than my first mead - back in the late 70's), and back then only a very small percentage of the public - only those that I like to call the "intelligencia elitists," along with those "hippies" who were into the all things natural movement - were interested. But with the dedication and perseverance of at first only a few crazy brewers who found loopholes in existing law that allowed them to open brew-pubs and later, microbreweries, a market was created and that market is growing and thriving today.

Further, the brewing industry's success demonstrates that once word spreads from the intelligencia elite to a more generic upscale crowd, demand escalates dramatically. Mead can, and hopefully will, undergo a similar growth in market potential (albeit not likely to be as dramatic or as widespread as the beer market, since beer still attracts a wider demographic than meads ever likely will). But what it will take are both dedicated attempts at public enlightenment (which is one big reason that Gotmead sponsors the Mazer Cup - we want this fledgling industry to grow and we know that events that attract the public will spread the word), and the availability of stellar commercial product. The stellar product is now out there, and slowly becoming more widely available, although most of the "good stuff" being made commercially these days is still distributed over very limited regional areas. What is needed, IMO, are more "micro-meaderies" dedicated to producing the best meads on the planet (which will open up more market by providing more net product volume) , along with more public mead awareness. The path forward is not guaranteed. There is much risk inherent in starting a meadery and a huge amount of work, business skill, patience and an insane amount of dedication to the craft is required to be successful while still producing top shelf product.

I applaud the new generation of commercial meadmakers, some of whom frequent this site, for taking on the risk and defying the odds; because of people like them, the prospects for more widespread public acceptance of mead are better now than ever before. We need more of 'em, and to all you guys now in the process of starting your own micro-meaderies, I applaud you even more! (And as soon as you can sell inter-state, I'll buy your products!!)

Now it is incumbent on all of us, who know what truly good mead is either from personal meadmaking experience or from exposure to the existing stellar commercial meads now out there, to spread the word, and the mead, far and wide. Word of mouth will be necessary to build initial demand, because we're nowhere near that critical mass point that I mentioned previously.

So, get out there and serve your best, folks! Host more mead tastings, invite your most influential friends and acquaintances. Do all you can to help these brave, insane, new commercial guys succeed... only then will you start to see more widespread availability of truly good commercial meads.

tycoon
03-23-2011, 02:40 PM
I think that while cultural/historical/taste/marketing/etc factors are important limits to the spread of mead, cost is the most important issue. As people has already said here, honey is expensive. That sets the minimum price mead can be sold for. Grapejuice is very cheap by comparison. So, in the cheaper wine segments (say, up to 5-6 US dollars per 75 cl bottle or tetrabrik 1 liter box), mead is not competitive. That segment is a very important segment both by volume and by value for the industry. The upper segment, say from 40 dollars upwards per bottle (e.g. a burgundy premier cru or 3rd growth Bordeaux, a good rivera del duero, amarone della valpolicella, etc) is also probably out of reach of mead due to the strong "luxury good" component of those wines.

Therefore, mead could probably be competitive within those brackets. It is in those segments, where I think mead has more possibilities. Of course, when you can get excellent wine, with 12 months of new (or second use) oak cask aging for US$ 11 retail, as is the case here where I live, I think it is rather challenging to sell mead, even if people knew how good mead can be.

Chevette Girl
03-23-2011, 04:23 PM
Well I like some commercial Meads that I have tryed.

I'm also a fan of sweeter wines and I love Moniack mead, although I was quite happy with the only North American commercial mead I've tried (Munro's) and it wasn't the least bit syrupy. I had a dry "honey wine" once, long before I started making my own, but it was just like a white wine, inoffensive but nothing special. <shrug>

The homemade meads I used to barter for at an annual gathering I used to attend were better than the "honey wine" but they definitely needed a couple of months to age, I generally left them on the shelf about 9 months before I'd bother.

Medsen Fey
03-23-2011, 05:05 PM
I suspect that nothing short of a vibrant, growing religious movement that spreads across the globe and which regards mead as its sacred drink will ever allow mead to regain its former place from wine.

The problem with comparisons to to the beer industry before the rise of craft brewing is that in the beer industry there were a few huge beer companies all producing the same, weak-kneed, watered-down, so-called "pilsner" and nothing else. The craft beers gave people something different to taste. With wine, yes there are a few huge wineries producing "galloesque" jugs, but there are also thousands of small wineries here and abroad producing an array of different grapes, and flavors, and levels of sweetness. You can try something new and different twice-a-day every day of the year and not cover it all. That doesn't leave a lot of room for a novel "wine" (mead in this case) to make an impact.

That's not to say that making a great product won't eventually encourage more people to taste mead, and once tasted, folks may appreciate it (I know I did). But I expect it to be a long slow climb out of obscurity. The fact that mead can be so many different things - sweet, dry, fruity, high ABV, sparkling, etc. just mean that it is tougher to focus marketing. The fact that consumers expect it to be sweet probably accounts for the fact that most of the widely available products are. The fact that people can easily experiment with flavors using distilled products - see the lastest vodka flavors, and the current martini craze - just means it is that much tougher for novel fruity/sweet beverages to find an opening.

I don't mean to sound negative, but if we are waiting for critical mass, I think it might be faster to start a different kind of mass. A mass for Sainted Mother Vicky of the bees. In the name of Oskaar, and Schramm, and Hightest (while making the sign of the bee).... :)

The Apostle Medsen of Fey

wayneb
03-23-2011, 06:18 PM
No Catholics were harmed (hopefully) in the production of Medsen's last post! ;D

wayneb
03-23-2011, 07:08 PM
And with all due respect to Medsen, I prefer to remain more optimistic. ;D

The points that he raises are all valid, and it does mean that mead will have a longer climb out of the depths of alcohol obscurity than craft beer ever did, but I think that a similar emergence of the American craft wine industry (which started before the craft beer emergence, but took longer overall to catch hold) demonstrates that it is possible for any alcoholic beverage to pique the general public's interest.

Thinking back to the mid 1960's or so, a few hardy fools out in the vicinity of Napa, California, decided to try to make wines that were more than jug-swill quality, despite the fact that there was no extant market in this country for such a home grown product. Back then wine drinkers were pretty much bimodally distributed. The intelligencia elitists in the US were all drinking French wines (except those on budgets, who stooped to having to content themselves with German and/or Italian "second class" products). The only other major market segment purchasing wine in the US back then were going for Gallo jugs, or Thunderbird, or the like....

What happened to ignite the interest of a much wider segment of the American public in wines from their own backyard? The same kind of almost maniacal fanatic drive on the part of some smaller winemakers in turning out great product - despite the predominantly held belief at the time that it couldn't be done outside western Europe, coupled somewhat later, with aggressive marketing campaigns that started about the time of the Judgement of Paris. Americans like nothing better than to be told that their home-grown product is superior to that from other parts of the world (in case you hadn't noticed) ;) and when commercial advertising employing icons of stage and screen (Remember Orson Welles declaring that Paul Masson would sell no wine before its time?) start to reinforce the idea that the local product is worth trying, the public are motivated to try. Masson wasn't even selling particularly good product back in the late 70's, but when Orson spoke, Masson sales skyrocketed. And the stuff that Masson was producing was so much better than the Gallo and T'Bird swill that Americans had come to think of as "wine," that interest in a critical mass of individuals was kindled - and California wine sales rocketed up in volume almost exponentially for the next two decades after that.

All I'm saying is that the same can happen with mead. Will it likely take longer than beer or wine did? Sure. Mead has even less general public recognition than wine did in the latter half of the last century, so of course the development of critical mass interest will take longer. Plus, precisely because wine has been so successful in establishing its broad market appeal, that mead has more competition out of the gate. But those are difficulties to be overcome from my perspective, rather than forever limiting roadblocks.

Maybe I'm just one of those crazy, hardcore, believers in the potential success of commercial mead. If that's true, then I'm at least a kindred spirit of some fine folks out in the commercial mead production industry. ;)

mmclean
03-23-2011, 07:19 PM
We need an association with a national platform from which a recognisable spokesperson can take the message to the people. Yes?

wildoates
03-23-2011, 07:20 PM
And here's a problem--a coworker asked me for some of my mead, and I brought him two bottles, a dry traditional that's 2 years old and a sweeter big berry Mel that's about a year and a half old. He can't wait to try them, and if he really likes them and wants to try more, he can't just go to our local BevMo here in Elk Grove and pick a bottle of good mead. They have Chaucer's and Bunratty "mead," (white wine sweetened with honey), and some BevMos have Rabbit's Foot, but for the most part, if he wants good mead he needs to either get it from me or order it online--which is a huge hassle when you can get reasonably priced decent tasting mass-produced wine at the local grocery. Why would he bother?

epetkus
03-23-2011, 07:32 PM
We need an association with a national platform from which a recognisable spokesperson can take the message to the people. Yes?

Hallelujah!!

BTW, I did have an error in OB honey price, it should have stated $2.25/gal, ($125/55gallon drum).

AToE
03-23-2011, 07:34 PM
That's a good point for sure wildoates, there needs to be a slow climb to having decent mead readily available before it can ever become popular, or else people will try it, like it, forget it.

I have one question, off topic with the OP but on topic with the pricing discussion in this thread - if grape wine costs so much more to produce the must, why is it than in the 15$ "golden" price range a person can get wines aged for at least a year, often a couple/few, but with meads in that price range they've got to be out the door in months?

Is it because those wines are being produced by massive companies? Thanks to Ian I've seen at least one meadery's numbers, and he's right, it's simply not affordable to age longer than a few months for meads anywhere near that price point - so what are wine companies doing differently?

I'm guessing it's company size, wineries that are similar sizes to these meaderies are putting out much higher priced products, and most/all of the 15$ range stuff is being done by bigger players who can get costs down even lower?

JayH
03-23-2011, 08:19 PM
1st, I got the prices from a guy named Nick at a wine wholesaler in Connecticut. However I'm starting to question the pricing and I think I will actually call up a grower or two here in my area and ask the same questions and see what I'm told.

However assuming the pricing I got from Nick was accurate, then the material cost for Mead and Wine are similar (remember that the actual material cost is a small part of the the overall cost for a winery or meadery). So I assume the fact they they can afford to age longer has a lot to do with just the massive volume of wine sold.

In addition is the fact that they have been at it for a long time, so if you only save back a couple percent of your yearly production each year, now 20-50 years later you have a whole years worth of production that has been sitting around. It's hard to start a business with the idea that you can't sell any of your product for the first couple of years.

wy_white_wolf
03-23-2011, 10:51 PM
"Why isn't mead more mainstream? "

I think the answer might be found in asking: "Why did grape based wine become more popular than Mead?"

It's much easier to grow grapes to support a large consumption than raise bees to make make mead

mmclean
03-24-2011, 03:25 AM
It's much easier to grow grapes to support a large consumption than raise bees to make make mead

Is it?

I think it would be easier to start a bee yard that will start producing the first year, than to start a vineyard.

Not to mention the cost.

tweak'e
03-24-2011, 03:56 AM
interesting thoughts. i'll try to remember to ask some of the wine growers i know over the weekend.

i don't know the difference in buisness. bees here often run a "one good year in three" rule ie you have one good season which has to cover the next two years. i'm guessing grapes are far more stable so will have more production for the cost.

Medsen Fey
03-24-2011, 09:23 AM
No Catholics were harmed (hopefully) in the production of Medsen's last post! ;D

I certainly hope not; and no harm (or insult) was intended.


And with all due respect to Medsen, I prefer to remain more optimistic. ;D

.... but I think that a similar emergence of the American craft wine industry (which started before the craft beer emergence, but took longer overall to catch hold) demonstrates that it is possible for any alcoholic beverage to pique the general public's interest.

Thinking back to the mid 1960's or so, a few hardy fools out in the vicinity of Napa, California, decided to try to make wines that were more than jug-swill quality, despite the fact that there was no extant market in this country for such a home grown product. ...

All I'm saying is that the same can happen with mead.

You make a darned good point. What we need is for the quality to continue to improve (or more precisely, for the volume of quality mead to increase). Then at some point, we need a "judgment of Paris" moment (like California wine had) when mead is judged toe to toe with wine.

I think that could occur when looking at pairing foods with mead. We know there are some foods that wine simply doesn't compliment - spicy Thai or Mexican or Indian, heavily fried foods, and such. If folks can identify a niche or two for meads where they can shine with foods that tend not to work with wines, it could create a nucleus to allow commercial meads to grow.

So don't worry Wayne - I think your optimism is contagious. :)

wayneb
03-24-2011, 10:13 AM
I like the way you think! ;)

Here's another corollary thought: Perhaps the largest growth market for mead isn't here in N. America, nor in Europe, but maybe it is in Asia. Given the natural fit between many meads and traditional Asian cuisines, marketing of quality mead as a luxury product for export to Asian countries might be a way to jump-start the industry.

tycoon
03-24-2011, 11:52 AM
I would also like to add that the asian market has a large potential for alcoholic beverage consumption...

I think it would also be interesting to learn more about how the few places where mead is mainstream have managed. I.e. Poland (and maybe Ethiopia?). Poland used to import wines from Bulgaria and other Soviet Bloc countries, but after the iron curtain fell, wine from other countries started to compete in that market. It would be interesting to learn what happened then: did mead lose a lot of market share, how, etc.....

BBBF
03-24-2011, 01:18 PM
If the trend for bee keeping continues to grow, I think mead's popularity will follow. Is there a better way to use your surplus honey? Then you sure your mead with friends and family and they find out about mead or that it's better than that syrupy sweet stuff they once tried.

mccann51
03-24-2011, 02:44 PM
CCD is going to be a major impediment to increased bee keeping, I would assume. That said, if there is a market for it, research will be done, and my feeling is that with enough minds working on something, most anything is solvable... somehow.

I do still wonder if honey product could ever reach the quantities necessary for mass production of mead, but I have nothing to base that on, so it's not a point I will argue.

As per public perception, I think what all of us is doing is hugely beneficial for mead becoming popular. As others have more eloquently stated, people try bad mead, and assume they will hate all mead (an un-adventurous bit of human nature that I have always found rather obnoxious). But every time we harangue somebody into tasting our delectable endeavors, we often hear "oh, well I like that mead"; the next step is then convincing them that it's not just our mead that is good, but that mead in general is a very quaffable beverage in general, and it's just a matter of production quality (I have an uncle who brewed mead once, with some bulk Sam's Club honey, and now he assumes all mead is crap; can't wait to hit him up with some farmer's-market-honey mead).

It's definitely grassroots at this point, but I feel that us acting as mead ambassadors is a strong first step in the right direction. Getting other homebrewers into meadmaking is another method for increasing appreciation of mead; kind of a chain-reaction thing.

AToE
03-24-2011, 02:54 PM
I think even little steps like joining local brew clubs and getting homebrewers interested (or more interested, since many will have attempted to make mead at least once) is a good thing too.

The club I joined has asked me to take over one of the meetings at some point to have a mead day (I'm the only person there who doesn't primarily make beer, so I'm slowly becoming known as the mead guy) to talk about the differences between making mead and beer, and to show people some of the different styles mead can be. (I'd be pushing this website too, as I don't really see how a discussion of making mead without mentioning gotmead.com could even be possible!)

My main problem right now is that I don't feel confident enough in my own stock of mead to bring and show people along with my talk. I've got a good blueberry mel and that's about it, most of what I have that I consider to be "good" is still needing more age.

JayH
03-24-2011, 03:44 PM
Working with your club does work. When I moved back to Southern California in 2005 and joined our local club there was one other person making mead. I talked the local shop to hold a mead day that year and only one person showed up and he was 2 hours late.

We now have 12-15 people actively making mead and at our last mead event we had over 20 people show up and make mead.

mccann51
03-24-2011, 04:09 PM
As well a local clubs, helping give advice on other homebrew forums seems like a good way to get primarily beer-oriented brewers making good mead to keep them interested. Hopefully they eventually stumble up GotMead.

wayneb
03-24-2011, 06:44 PM
My main problem right now is that I don't feel confident enough in my own stock of mead to bring and show people along with my talk. I've got a good blueberry mel and that's about it, most of what I have that I consider to be "good" is still needing more age.

It is likely that we can send you home with a few representative samples after the MCI is over (provided your "checked bag mead transport test" proves out when you come down here). That is, of course, if you're willing to share them with all those other folks! ;)

AToE
03-24-2011, 06:49 PM
It is likely that we can send you home with a few representative samples after the MCI is over (provided your "checked bag mead transport test" proves out when you come down here). That is, of course, if you're willing to share them with all those other folks! ;)

Hmmm, I might get greedy! That would be a great idea though, but the problem is I'd need a couple/few 750ml bottles of each kind, because even with really small pours those things empty FAST at our meetings. Something like 70-80 people usually show up I think.

I think I might have enough of my own stock ready for whatever meeting I'll do, other than a really good dry traditional (by that time I'll have a semi sweet well aged, a couple more melomels and maybe a braggot).

tweak'e
03-25-2011, 10:00 PM
It's much easier to grow grapes to support a large consumption than raise bees to make make mead

ok, i had a good discussion with one the local wine makers here.

basically what it comes down to is that its far far easier to do grow large amounts of grapes than it is to collect honey.
while a vineyard may not produce anything for the first few years they more than make up for it volume later on.
beekeepers tend to start small and build up, so they don't get much production for the first few years. while they get some in the first few years they just can't match a vineyards volume later on.
while i haven't worked out the math, i would guess a vineyard would produce anything from 10x to 100x the volume for the same cost/work than a beekeeper.

edit: quick and dirty maths comparing small vineyard to small beekeeper shows a vineyard should produce about double the fermentable volume than a beekeeper. however a vineyard can upscale a whole lot easier, while a beekeeper production per person doesn't really change much.

mmclean
03-26-2011, 06:52 AM
ok, i had a good discussion with one the local wine makers here.


Did you talk to a beekeeper?

I don't think one discussion with one person on one side of the discussion makes a fact.

Many beeks reported 150-200 lbs per hive for 2010 honey yield.

tweak'e
03-26-2011, 06:47 PM
Did you talk to a beekeeper?

I don't think one discussion with one person on one side of the discussion makes a fact.

Many beeks reported 150-200 lbs per hive for 2010 honey yield.

i'm a beekeeper so i compared our production, and other small beekeepers that we process for, per person to a small vineyard. while it does vary depending on beekeeping methods used and also different grapes produce different yields, the overall effect is that its much easier to produce grapes than it is to produce honey.
its also much easier to upscale with grapes so you get economy of scale coming into effect a lot more.

you may get 200lb per hive but there is a limited amount of hives a person can look after before you need to hire more staff. compare that to, for eg, the 450000 pounds of grapes a single person vineyard can produce which would give something like 40000 gallons of juice.

wayneb
03-27-2011, 10:09 PM
One other thing to note -- for fermentation purposes, you can't compare volumes of grapes directly to volumes of honey (or weights, for that matter). While grapes provide about 75-80% of their total volume as directly fermentable juice at an equivalent SG of around 1.090, you'd have to dilute your honey significantly to get it down to that SG. So, a given volume of honey will yield far more fermentable must (once diluted) than an equal volume of crushed grapes.

Was that taken into account with your quick and dirty math? I should think that once the difference is taken into account, the cost difference between the two equivalent musts would be much smaller.

TheAlchemist
03-27-2011, 10:25 PM
... If you travel too far out (dude)of the Amateur Brewing Circle, (again, at least in America) Meads are associated with basement dwelling, renaissance fair going, 40 year old virgins at worst; and weed smoking hippies at best...


Hey!

Who you callin' a basementdwelingrenfairegoin'weedsmokin'hippie?

JayH
03-28-2011, 02:31 AM
When I called the wholesaler I specifically told him what I was trying to calculate. That is when he quoted me $7gallon for low end California Must. He said they sold it that way buy the tote (250 lbs) ready to be fermented.

I'm starting to question that price though so I've decided to call around tomorrow and get a couple more quotes just for grins.

tweak'e
03-28-2011, 03:16 AM
One other thing to note -- for fermentation purposes, you can't compare volumes of grapes directly to volumes of honey (or weights, for that matter). While grapes provide about 75-80% of their total volume as directly fermentable juice at an equivalent SG of around 1.090, you'd have to dilute your honey significantly to get it down to that SG. So, a given volume of honey will yield far more fermentable must (once diluted) than an equal volume of crushed grapes.

Was that taken into account with your quick and dirty math? I should think that once the difference is taken into account, the cost difference between the two equivalent musts would be much smaller.

yes. i did a rough calc on grapejuice vers honey used to achieve the required amount of must. its only rough but being the difference is so big the amount of error is not worth worrying about.

please note, i deliberately left out the $$$$$. trying to compare two completely different industries $$$ wise is a nightmare. you could argue that you can buy grapes at $$$ per ton, but that can vary greatly depending on market conditions which may not effect beekeepers at all.
also the $$ of the raw ingredients does not necessarily mean you are going to make a $$$ when you sell (or not sell) the final product.
hence i compared what work load a person would do to get required raw products.

mmclean
03-28-2011, 11:08 AM
One person = 200-600 hives, depending on how hard you want to work.

200 hives = 25,000 lbs honey. (Based on 127 lbs, 7 yr average I saw posted at beesource.com. YMMV

25,000 lbs honey = 8,466 gal mead @ 3 lbs per gal.

8,466 gal mead = 3,557 cases

Ian posted that he thought if he sold 1200 cases, his 3rd year goal, he would be taking home about 50k-70k.

I don't know, seems doable to me.

tweak'e
03-29-2011, 03:32 AM
doable is easy.

my point is if your making 16,000 gal of mead (400 hives) your still a long way off your wine counterpart who does 40,000 gal of wine, so your always going to struggle with price if you both are chasing the same market.

Brad Dahlhofer
03-30-2011, 10:16 PM
Either the meads are too sweet, or spiced in an unpleasant way, but I have never met a single person who's had commercial mead bought in north america that's liked it. .

I've got over 1,700 Facebook (www.facebook.com/b.nektar) fans and 2,500 newsletter (http://myemail.constantcontact.com/B--Nektar-Meadery---April-2011-Newsletter.html?soid=1102441164560&aid=vMfcj6bdEVg) recipients that would disagree with that statement. ;)

Brad Dahlhofer
03-30-2011, 10:21 PM
EDIT: Does anyone know what price range of wine sells best? I would imagine $10-$15 per bottle is the biggest seller, thats the range everyone I know buys in anyways, not the bottom of the barrel cheap, but not hard on the wallet either.

I'm told by our retailers that the under $10 market is the hottest in terms of bottles sold..

Brad Dahlhofer
03-30-2011, 10:26 PM
How do we overcome all this? Well as a consumer and homebrewer, I say the heck with them. But if I was a commercial meadery, I'd try to do what Brad and the rest of our pros try to do, which is produce an excellent product and try to get the word out various ways.

Thanks! Glad to see someone notices. ;)

Brad Dahlhofer
03-30-2011, 10:30 PM
From a fermentable sugar point of view, here in FL I can purchase OB honey for $1.25/gal if I buy large qty's based upon 55gal drums.

I'm assuming you meant $1.25/pound, but I still want your source!! Please PM me with the name/phone number of the seller.

Thanks!

Brad Dahlhofer
03-30-2011, 10:36 PM
insane

Hey! I resemble that comment! ;)

Brad Dahlhofer
03-30-2011, 10:42 PM
I'm guessing it's company size, wineries that are similar sizes to these meaderies are putting out much higher priced products, and most/all of the 15$ range stuff is being done by bigger players who can get costs down even lower?

Our year-round meads generally retail for about $15/$16 for a 750ml bottle. Just sayin'.

AToE
03-30-2011, 10:48 PM
I've got over 1,700 Facebook (www.facebook.com/b.nektar) fans and 2,500 newsletter (http://myemail.constantcontact.com/B--Nektar-Meadery---April-2011-Newsletter.html?soid=1102441164560&aid=vMfcj6bdEVg) recipients that would disagree with that statement. ;)

Well, I'm in Canada so nobody here has had your offerings! ;D You guys seem to be one of a smaller group of the already small group of pro meadmakers that makes the good stuff frankly, your selection looks like stuff that would appeal to people on this forum as meadmakers too, most other meaderies produce desert syrup and that seems to be it!

I'm seriously excited to get to try your meads at the Mazer cup since I can't seem to get it shipped to my house.

Note too that when I say no one I've talked to that's tried mead has liked it, 95% of the people I talk to haven't ever even tried it at all! The other 5% all hate it because it's "too sweet" or if they're really unlucky they got a super-sweet over-spiced mead, then it's just game over, they'll never go near the stuff again.

I'm told by our retailers that the under $10 market is the hottest in terms of bottles sold..

That makes sense, I get what Wayne posted about 15$ being a sweet spot, not too cheap not too expensive, but in pretty much all types of retail, the cheapest of the cheap is where you really get fast turn around.

If I owned a meadery and could get my "standard" meads sold for $13-$15 per bottle (remember too we have higher alcohol taxes here, so margins are slimmer), and then have some aged "reserve" meads going for $18-$30 per bottle I'd be very happy.

A huge part of me wants to consider giving it a go in 5 or more years (not experienced a meadmaker enough yet to even consider it), simply because I know I can get good investment/loan dollars and I think my tastes in mead would bring something new to the table - but I know I'm not prepared for how much non-fun work it would be, or for the extreme risks of that industry.

AToE
03-30-2011, 10:50 PM
Our year-round meads generally retail for about $15/$16 for a 750ml bottle. Just sayin'.

I always forget that because I remember seeing most of them online for more like $20 (which is a price I have no issue paying for mead, because I know what's up, but is steep for someone not into it yet). I think you're right where I'd want to be if I was selling the stuff.

wildoates
03-30-2011, 11:29 PM
One of the good things about our mead tasting parties is that I've had the chance to try quite a few commercial meads and be with my friends who are, while not mead experts, avid wine drinkers. One of the things I've noticed is that although they SAY they prefer dryer wines, when they don't know in advance what's in their glass, they always score the sweeter ones higher than the dryer ones. Most of the craft meads I've tasted have some residual sweetness, but they're not like Chaucer's or Bunratty's not really Meade.

It might be that more experienced mead drinkers appreciate the skill that goes into making a balanced dry mead, but most people expect it to be sweet (it's honey, dagnabit!) and indeed prefer it to be sweet (not syrupy, but a nice balance of tart and sweet). I can't blame the commercial meaderies for putting out the sweeter meads if that's what people want to buy.

I've had several of Brad's meads, all were on the sweeter end of the scale, and all were excellent. They score high at our mead tasting get-togethers. If we could get them here and get people to TRY them, I don't think BevMo could keep them in stock. the same goes for some of the other craft meads I've tasted--and the Chaucer's could sit on the shelf and collect dust.

AToE
03-30-2011, 11:50 PM
I think a balanced sweetness is definitely to most people's tastes (even meadmakers, look at what 99% of the recipes on this site are, and they ain't dry), and I don't know if dry would frankly to everyone's tastes unless it was done really well.

The meads I'm talking about aren't balanced sweet though, they're simply gross, at least to the tastes of most people I've spoken with. Even people who happily drink wine coolers and really sweet mixed drinks won't go near them! I haven't tried Chaucers, but it sounds like something similar is what most people up here have tried.

I know it's not just myself, I generally don't like much sweetness for sure, but these are people who do, and admit that they do, and still think mead has to be syrup thanks to their previous experiences!

I have no doubt at all that even I with my anti-sweet-tooth will enjoy Brad's offerings!

wayneb
03-31-2011, 12:26 AM
Hey! I resemble that comment! ;)

Yup! That's what I like about you!! ;D

tycoon
03-31-2011, 09:58 AM
I think a balanced sweetness is definitely to most people's tastes (even meadmakers, look at what 99% of the recipes on this site are, and they ain't dry), and I don't know if dry would frankly to everyone's tastes unless it was done really well.

Not having tasted many meads in my life (only once before I started making it myself) I don't know what people expect in MEAD in terms of sweetness. However, I have been involved with wine tasting for many years in different countries (UK, France, Spain, Chile, Argentina) and I believe that dry WINES have a significant size of the market, due to consumer preferences. Even in white wines, dry wines are also much sought after (e.g. Chablis/Chardonnay; Viura, Rueda, Viognier, etc). Although sweet white wines do have a market (e.g. sauternes, tokay, etc), I don't know whether that market is larger than that of dry white wines. As to me mead is a type of wine, I have tried to make my meads as dry, oaked, etc as to resemble one of the good (dry) wines I have tasted. Not that I have succeeded, of course ;D but one can only keep trying....

Does other people here share the belief that semi-sweet mead is more appealing to people in general? I am curious.

mmclean
03-31-2011, 10:38 AM
Does other people here share the belief that semi-sweet mead is more appealing to people in general? I am curious.

I would agree with this statement.

But, I would disagree with the statement,


As to me mead is a type of wine...

Medsen Fey
03-31-2011, 10:47 AM
Although sweet white wines do have a market (e.g. sauternes, tokay, etc), I don't know whether that market is larger than that of dry white wines.

The dry white wine market is much larger than the sweet market. That wasn't always true. Sweet wines were highly favored during much of recorded history. However, through the centuries, options for a sweet beverage were limited. Sugar became widely available only a few hundred years ago. Prior to that you could only sweeten beverages with honey. Fruit juices wouldn't keep long, and a sweetened beverage would spoil quickly. Sweet wines were the only sweet beverage that could be stored and kept for lengthy periods, making them very desirable.

Now of course, anytime someone wants a sweet beverage, there's a Coke machine at their finger tips, and countless other options as well. So sweet wines don't hold the cherished placed in our hearts that they did for our ancestors.


Does other people here share the belief that semi-sweet mead is more appealing to people in general? I am curious.

For traditional meads, I often prefer semi-sweet. For my tastes, that increases the honey character.

Tiwas
03-31-2011, 10:49 AM
Does other people here share the belief that semi-sweet mead is more appealing to people in general? I am curious.

For me, I don't like grape wine. I also don't like cheese, so I'm not ruining my steak with wine and I don't ruin wine with molded cheese. For me to enjoy it, it needs to have at least *some* sweetness to it, but hopefully I'll learn to enjoy other aspects as well.

As a *portal* to mead drinking, I would think semi-sweet or semi-dry would be ideal. When the market grows, I believe there will be good place for both sweet and dry versions as well.

At least that's my couple of cents worth ;)

mccann51
03-31-2011, 11:04 AM
One of the things I've noticed is that although they SAY they prefer dryer wines, when they don't know in advance what's in their glass, they always score the sweeter ones higher than the dryer ones.


I think a balanced sweetness is definitely to most people's tastes (even meadmakers, look at what 99% of the recipes on this site are, and they ain't dry), and I don't know if dry would frankly to everyone's tastes unless it was done really well.

...

I know it's not just myself, I generally don't like much sweetness for sure, but these are people who do, and admit that they do, and still think mead has to be syrup thanks to their previous experiences!





Does other people here share the belief that semi-sweet mead is more appealing to people in general? I am curious.

I agree, I think semi-sweet is probably where it's at. People drinking wine coolers (no offense to your friends, AToE, haha) are probably not the target market for a 10-15$ bottle of mead. But people do like sugar (it's biology, baby!). That said, an unbalanced product and/or sucking down alcoholic-sugar water is not appealing to many people who are in that craft brew (brew in the general sense) market. Unfortunately, that is what's on most shelves. If I saw a bottle of anything by the people on this forum, I'd buy if for no other reason than I'm anxious to try a quality commercial product. Instead, I'm being asked to pay over 10$ for a 750ml of 11% "semi-sweet" traditional; that's either gonna be retardedly sweet or stupidly watery. It's not bad for a glass, but in terms of a sessionable, I feel like my teeth are coated in sugar half-way through the second glass. And I don't think I'm in the minority (of that hypothetical target market) on that. There simply aren't options for most people, most places (I look forward to the day when I can buy a quality bottle of mead as easily as a quality bottle of beer or wine), thus where we as homebrewers come in.

Dan McFeeley
03-31-2011, 01:12 PM
There's a lot of reasons why mead hasn't hit mainstream yet -- a major one is that the commercial production of mead is a developing industry, relatively new on the scene. I have a copy of the late Dr. Roger Morse's Master's Thesis, University of Cornell 1953 and according to his research at the time, much of the commercial production of mead was for Jewish sacramental purposes. That may not be totally accurate, but it does show that mead had a very limited market niche at the time.

The Meadery at Greenwich, now known as Betterbee Meadery, may have been the first facility devoted to mead production alone -- it was founded some time in the 1980s. More followed, but you can see that this wasn't so very long ago.

Academic research into the science of honey fermentation and commercial production of mead has been limited. The main center seems to have been the University of Cornell, championed by Roger Morse and Robert Kime, both of whom have passed away.

Some good lessons for promoting mead can be picked up from the history of winemaking in the US. There were a number of important changes and innovations made that pushed US wine to world class status. Some, using the name of the varietal grape on the labels, making strides to produce a "food wine" rather than the simple jug wines that had been prevalent on the market, or the links between wine and cuisine, wine and the table.

Some time ago, I ran a survey of commercial meadmaking in the US, for the then International Mead Association. Many meaderies were reluctant to release their yearly production figures so part of the conditions for the survey was that I would not publish any individual figures, only general sums and generalizations so as to give an idea of what mead production was like in the US. I still have all the returned survey forms and I'm staying true to my promise, but I think I can say this. Whatever you might think of Chauer's Mead, Bargetto Winery is doing something right. Their figures were well above everyone else, at the time I did the survey.

Many of the advances in awareness of mead, the promotion of mead, have been done by every day folk. The most successful mead assocition was the American Mead Association, founded by Pamela Spence. The Mazer Cup, same thing, started by Ken Schramm and Dan McConnell, it became *the* mead competition to enter. Everyone had been saying that a new mead book was needed for quite a few years, it happened with Ken Schramm's "Compleat Meadmaker" but Ken did this as something on the side, along with his regular job, family life, orchard care, fly fishing, and everything else he does. ;D Of course, there's Vickie Rowe and her venture into a web site just for the fun of it, at first ;D , and Oskaar's contributions to the site, and what they've both done in keeping the Boulder Colorado mead competition going, now the Mazer Cup International competition.

Historical background in the production of mead. There's a lot of room for improvement here. The honeymoon story about mead isn't true, yet it still turns up on a lot of mead promotion efforts. Mead has an international culture yet too much of the commercial promotion of mead focuses too much on Nordic folk. Eastern Europe and mead culture -- it's huge. Same thing with Africa. Brittany France -- I've been told that mead in Brittany is as common on grocery shelves as wine.

Phil Dunlap, who pens the cartoon strip Ink Pen, had some fun with commercial meadmaking and in the process poked a little fun at both Ken Schramm and myself (you have to read between the lines to catch it), pretty funny stuff but he had some good critiques on mead that are worth looking at. Go here:

http://www.gocomics.com/inkpen/

Click on the calendar to go to the first strip in the thread, starting March 17, 2008 (St. Patrick's Day!).

--

mccann51
03-31-2011, 03:59 PM
Historical background in the production of mead. There's a lot of room for improvement here. The honeymoon story about mead isn't true, yet it still turns up on a lot of mead promotion efforts. Mead has an international culture yet too much of the commercial promotion of mead focuses too much on Nordic folk. Eastern Europe and mead culture -- it's huge. Same thing with Africa. Brittany France -- I've been told that mead in Brittany is as common on grocery shelves as wine.


I couldn't agree with this more. Mead is an international phenomenon, yet it has been pigeon-holed into just being representative of Celtic and Nordic culture, which isn't everybody's thing.

wildoates
03-31-2011, 05:43 PM
I couldn't agree with this more. Mead is an international phenomenon, yet it has been pigeon-holed into just being representative of Celtic and Nordic culture, which isn't everybody's thing.

Oh, surely you jest. :)

DaleP
03-31-2011, 07:02 PM
T



Historical background in the production of mead. There's a lot of room for improvement here. The honeymoon story about mead isn't true, yet it still turns up on a lot of mead promotion efforts.

P
--

Where is your proof of this statement? Many say it without formal proof, and now you say its not true without any background info. My research shows this to be true.

Dan McFeeley
03-31-2011, 07:39 PM
It's been well discussed on this forum and on the Mead Lover's Digest. Try a search and you should be able to turn up info.

A couple of references -- Eva Crane, a well respected authority on the history of honey and beekeeping, A Book of Honey, Oxford University Press, 1980, p. 132, where she notes the word honeymoon but specifically states that it does not refer to a month long feasting on honey. Also, try looking up the word honeymoon in the Oxford English Dictionary and you'll see the same thing.

Not trying to be a nay sayer, just looking for accuracy in reporting mead lore. There's plenty of magic and mystery in the old stories of mead, we should stick with those. Which is the point I'm trying to make here -- so long as mead is marginal, no one is going to question what we might say about mead or the history & lore of mead (also Phil Dunlap's point). If mead was more mainstream, we'd have folk looking over our shoulders and asking the same question you're asking -- where did you get that from?

I can say more here but I don't want to hijack the thread.

--

Brad Dahlhofer
04-01-2011, 12:08 AM
Where are you at? Our meads are distributed in the NE.


I agree, I think semi-sweet is probably where it's at. People drinking wine coolers (no offense to your friends, AToE, haha) are probably not the target market for a 10-15$ bottle of mead. But people do like sugar (it's biology, baby!). That said, an unbalanced product and/or sucking down alcoholic-sugar water is not appealing to many people who are in that craft brew (brew in the general sense) market. Unfortunately, that is what's on most shelves. If I saw a bottle of anything by the people on this forum, I'd buy if for no other reason than I'm anxious to try a quality commercial product. Instead, I'm being asked to pay over 10$ for a 750ml of 11% "semi-sweet" traditional; that's either gonna be retardedly sweet or stupidly watery. It's not bad for a glass, but in terms of a sessionable, I feel like my teeth are coated in sugar half-way through the second glass. And I don't think I'm in the minority (of that hypothetical target market) on that. There simply aren't options for most people, most places (I look forward to the day when I can buy a quality bottle of mead as easily as a quality bottle of beer or wine), thus where we as homebrewers come in.

tycoon
04-01-2011, 08:58 AM
More than one very interesting topic being discussed in this thread (mead pricing potential, whether the (fake but well-known) honeymoon story should be used as marketing for mead or not, what type of mead is more appealing to people (both meadmakers and others), etc). Maybe the thread should be split? Just an idea...

mccann51
04-01-2011, 12:01 PM
Where are you at? Our meads are distributed in the NE.

NYS. Based on your site, it looks like you don't distribute to NY or PA, unfortunately.

EDIT: Tycoon, it's not my thread, but it seems like a nice flowing discussion. Seems like breaking it up might break the momentum.

havoc64
04-01-2011, 02:28 PM
I couldn't agree with this more. Mead is an international phenomenon, yet it has been pigeon-holed into just being representative of Celtic and Nordic culture, which isn't everybody's thing.

Not that you all don't alread know this, but I felt compelled to pass some knowledge that I have found while researching family ancestry and my lineage to Alfred the Great.

From what I have read the beginning of the end was the expansion of the Norman/French into what was typically Mead Country, England, the Anglo and Saxon areas of Germania and up into the Scandanavian regions. I am sure that Catholicism had a Major impact as well as the Roman Catholic Church spread so did the need for wine. Italy did have mead, but the "Church" used Grape wine, and mead started to be pushed aside.

The intermarriages of the Royal Families of Europe and the Expansion of the Holy Church I am sure was the beginning of the decline of mead as a favored beverage. It became un-refined to drink a peoples drink like mead.

It is evident that grapes became easier to grow and therefore easier to produce wine, mead became a "Niche" Common peoples drink. The Friars, and "peasants" made mead for consumption, while the Nobles and well to do, drank wine made outside of the Land of Brittan.

Mead never really recovered.

As for a celebrity, I am sure a couple of comments of a well named actor or actress would help push meads popularity, lets not can get Charlie Sheen to Mention it in one of his Wizard and Troll rants..LOL

Just my thoughts,
Mike

fatbloke
04-02-2011, 07:33 AM
Not that you all don't alread know this, but I felt compelled to pass some knowledge that I have found while researching family ancestry and my lineage to Alfred the Great.
Well, I'm sorry if you've been mis-lead there Mike. Especially as there's little to no evidence for anyones lineage that far back. The greatest amount of available records are mainly Norman in origin. The Saxons didn't do a good job of recording stuff. What there is, or at least seems to be available for Saxon period (a.k.a. "the dark ages") comes from people like "the venerable Bede" and other ecclesiastic scholars, hence it's biased and incomplete.

Of course, there are some earlier references i.e. Roman stuff, but that's almost as incomplete as the Saxon stuff.


From what I have read the beginning of the end was the expansion of the Norman/French into what was typically Mead Country, England, the Anglo and Saxon areas of Germania and up into the Scandanavian regions. I am sure that Catholicism had a Major impact as well as the Roman Catholic Church spread so did the need for wine. Italy did have mead, but the "Church" used Grape wine, and mead started to be pushed aside.
This is precisely why there's so much uncertainty about the rise and fall of meads. What was available before the Roman presence is pure conjecture. They did indeed bring wine and grapes as far north as Britain, but like a lot of stuff, there's a huge gap in the lost knowledge between their collapse and the arrival of "William the Bastard" in 1066 here. Hell, even the very fact that the saxons used natural building materials like wood etc mean that there's a lot that's just not known. Which makes discoveries like "Sutton Hoo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sutton_Hoo)" all the more important as it does prove that there was still some "advanced" (used advisedly) technology going on. Though as you rightly point out, the spread of Christianity is very relevant. Because it would allude to the presence of wines, albeit imported, for "church use".



The intermarriages of the Royal Families of Europe and the Expansion of the Holy Church I am sure was the beginning of the decline of mead as a favored beverage. It became un-refined to drink a peoples drink like mead.

It is evident that grapes became easier to grow and therefore easier to produce wine, mead became a "Niche" Common peoples drink. The Friars, and "peasants" made mead for consumption, while the Nobles and well to do, drank wine made outside of the Land of Brittan.

Mead never really recovered.
Well, again, there's little evidence of that either. There are a few historical/archaic recipes that have been discovered/located in historical texts, that suggest that they might have been made for the consumption of various "Royals" (and the intermarriages of the European royal families was more about the power trip and not releasing their grasp on that power than anything else - damn, even today, there's still a lot of comment on both Diana, and the upcoming event of the 29th April, and another "commoner" being admitted to the illustrious ranks of the Windsors).

Pretty much all the available evidence/documentation (specifically that alluding to Britain), points toward mead not being suitable to industrial production techniques available at the time of the "industrial revolution". As it was already less hassle to import wines from Europe (specifically France) at the time, and to produce beer for the "masses" (which apart from many other reasons, was one of the causes of increased longevity/public health improvements).

During the various periods of mediaeval British royalty (and later) meads would have been "locally" produced, as there wasn't much industrialisation or centralisation of manufacture of anything. You only have to look at the history of where ships were built for the Royal Navy to see that. Some of the areas/locations of production haven't been used for 4 or 5 centuries, and even when they were, it was about locally available materials (oak for planking etc). If you looked into the time of Elizabeth the First, the higher levels of the nobility hated it, as while she did have some "palaces", it was the habit to descend on one of the other nobles with "the Royal Household" for a visit. They were expected to provide accomodation and food for the Royal party etc and the "visit" could last many, many months.

All of this kind of available info, does, unfortunately, point toward a lot of the origins of meads toward the Saxons, Angles, Vikings, etc etc, but that info is very limited and even using info from the countries of origin of those peoples doesn't really provide much conclusive proof.


As for a celebrity, I am sure a couple of comments of a well named actor or actress would help push meads popularity, lets not can get Charlie Sheen to Mention it in one of his Wizard and Troll rants..LOL

Just my thoughts,
MikeNow that isn't such a bad idea. Hell not even someone as high profile as Chaz Sheen. Lets face it, some of the resurgence of "mead interest" has come, more recently, thanks to the writings of one J.K. Rowling and the spin off films.......

Just to have someone who's high profile in the wine world, say that mead is good, would be a boon.

Though whether it's us that are partly at fault is another question i.e. are we trying to make it "too wine like" ? Or is it that we've not managed to actually set any standard for the various types of meads made ?

Who knows ? Yes, it makes for interesting questions and a lot of conjecture on the subject but the lack of documented historical evidence means that it's very likely to stay as just "an interesting question"........

regards

fatbloke

Tiwas
04-02-2011, 08:05 AM
All of this kind of available info, does, unfortunately, point toward a lot of the origins of meads toward the Saxons, Angles, Vikings, etc etc, but that info is very limited and even using info from the countries of origin of those peoples doesn't really provide much conclusive proof.


Very interesting read. I would also like to add that there was an extreme lack of recorded history before the 18th century in the Scandinavian countries. Before the 13th century, it's almost completely lacking. One of the reasons for that was that Vikings believed in the magical powers of the runes, and that was the only alphabet in use. This alphabet (which really is a bad name, as it doesn't start with "alpha, beta" etc etc) would jinx you if you mixed characters in the wrong way. Thus, only people with magical powers would use it. The first real Scandinavian history recording, as far as I know, was by Snorre Sturlason - written in the 13th century. And this was more a written version of lore, as he had been told by his elders and had been passed down generations. Not really something to base anything on ;) We did have a lot of written history, but that disappeared when the library in Alexandria burned down. For some reason *they* recorded more of our history than we did.

Also, as I wrote earlier, mead was outlawed up here by the church in an effort to get rid of "our false gods".

Medsen Fey
04-02-2011, 10:25 AM
As for a celebrity, I am sure a couple of comments of a well named actor or actress would help push meads popularity, lets not can get Charlie Sheen to Mention it in one of his Wizard and Troll rants..LOL



Heck I'd settle for having the "Goddesses" give it a promotion.
(And of course, I'd be happy to incorporate them into the new religious movement. ;) )

Dan McFeeley
04-02-2011, 05:10 PM
Charlie Sheen could polarize the market -- some people would back off on mead if he spoke out on it, others would be saying "I want some of what he's drinking." :eek: ;D

Maybe if Rachael did a show featuring the use of mead as an ingredient in a few recipes . . .

That would also be a great Food Network show -- Ken Schramm visiting various meaderies, tasting, showing the use of mead with cuisine and as food pairing.

--

wildoates
04-02-2011, 06:02 PM
That would also be a great Food Network show -- Ken Schramm visiting various meaderies, tasting, showing the use of mead with cuisine and as food pairing.

That would be awesome, but I'd have to get my sis to tivo it for me, as I don't have cable or whatever the heck you have to buy to watch those shows, as I don't watch TV.

mmclean
04-02-2011, 06:24 PM
That would be awesome, but I'd have to get my sis to tivo it for me, as I don't have cable or whatever the heck you have to buy to watch those shows, as I don't watch TV.

Good on you. I don't watch it either. My friend is on two TV shows this summer and I hope I'll get to see them. ???

Dan McFeeley
04-02-2011, 07:45 PM
I wonder if we have a concensus going here. I don't watch tv either, no real reason, just more interested in other things.

--

mccann51
04-02-2011, 08:08 PM
No TV here, either... that's not to say I don't waste a shit-ton of time in front of a screen everyday (read as: I check GotMead and other internet time-sinks a lil too frequently).

tweak'e
04-02-2011, 08:15 PM
....
That would also be a great Food Network show -- Ken Schramm visiting various meaderies, tasting, showing the use of mead with cuisine and as food pairing.

--

we have cooking shows on free tv here that do wine matching to the cuisine. i would hate to see what it costs for the plug.

but thats also highlights one of the problems of small manufactures in niche markets. promotion is very expensive and it often ends up being just one brand that pays the $$$ and everyone else gets a free ride.

just been taking to someone from another industry here who tried to get all the local produces to come together and put on a show/festival but no one else was interested, everyone wants to do their own thing.

TheAlchemist
04-02-2011, 08:49 PM
I wonder if we have a concensus going here. I don't watch tv either, no real reason, just more interested in other things.

--

When the rest of the world went HD I didn't even bother to get a converter box. I only use my TV for watching film on DVD. When I want to watch the Oscars I have to use somebody else's TV...

Chevette Girl
04-03-2011, 02:43 AM
When the rest of the world went HD I didn't even bother to get a converter box. I only use my TV for watching film on DVD. When I want to watch the Oscars I have to use somebody else's TV...

The last time my TV pulled in an honest-to-goodness station was the evening of 9-11 because I wanted to watch the news. It's never been hooked to cable and I think I've watched one movie on it so far this calendar year. Better things to do, really. Like spend all my time making mead and reading gotmead.com :) I must admit to watching Food Porn (what we call Man Vs Food) at a friend's place about once a week when we're over for supper... but I wouldn't really miss it if I never saw it again.

Seriously though, back on topic, this has been just an awesome thread, I wish I had something better to contribute to it than a comment on an off-topic jaunt... and if there was a mead show with Ken Schramm on the food network or something, I'd definitely make a point of downloading it...:p

Dan McFeeley
04-03-2011, 12:26 PM
So here we are, talking over reasons why mead isn't more mainstream, and there's a good number of us who are out of touch with the media,
and probably popular culture. ;D

Just yesterday my daughter (age 13) was telling me that the only reason I know a few names of actors and actresses is from taking her to movies or watching something on DVD with her. Say, who is that Charlie Sheen guy anyway, is he getting in some kind of trouble for shooting his mouth off too much?

Too bad Food Network doesn't take in outside ideas. They'd be sitting on top of a hit -- Ken Schramm visiting different meaderies, talking with the owners, taking in the scenery, doing the cuisine pairing thing.

A few years ago I tried sending an e-note to Bill Daley, who was writing a weekly column on wine and other beverages for the Chicago Tribune at the time, pointing out that he was overlooking mead. Didn't get a reply, he never did anything with the subject.

--

wildoates
04-03-2011, 05:01 PM
When the rest of the world went HD I didn't even bother to get a converter box. I only use my TV for watching film on DVD. When I want to watch the Oscars I have to use somebody else's TV...

I didn't either, but I did recently replace my old TV with a flat screen HD. It gets used for the Wii and movies, unless my sister visits.

Like McFeely, there any number of things I'd rather do than watch the tube, like this weekend where my daughter and I racked 10 gallons of mead, bottled 5 gallons of beer, started 5 gallons more beer (family reunion over Memorial Day Weekend), racked 2 batches of lambic over the fruit and the bugs, and dickered with blending some bits of leftovers just for the heck of it. next weekend we'll bottle another batch of beer (Aaron, hush!:rolleyes:) and over spring break bottle the last one, plus the lingonberry mead.

If we have anything to say abut it, homebrewed potables will become much more popular...from here to across the street at least. :)

akueck
04-03-2011, 11:29 PM
next weekend we'll bottle another batch of beer (Aaron, hush!:rolleyes:)

Ha! I might not have said anything, but now I have to. :p Lambics even!

For the record our TV is only connected to the DVD and VTR (yes, VTR, we're not even cool enough to have a VCR).

The "watch Sam make weird beers" show exists, who says we can't get someone to put on a "watch Ken drink mead" show?

wildoates
04-03-2011, 11:43 PM
I know you were thinking it. :)

Someone needs to put together a proposal and "pitch" it to someone else with deep pockets. :)

Smarrikåka
04-04-2011, 05:37 AM
With regards to the workload of beekeeping vs workload of growing grape, I think one thing that needs to be taken account that wasn't taking into account is that beekeeping holds additional value that growing grapes doesn't have in the form of wax/propolis/pollination/etcetera. With grapes you don't really get any other products or added benefits of economic value than the grapes themselves and that which can be done with them.

Still, that may not be enough to balance things out. But on the other hand, I don't think it will matter. Mead shouldn't try to replace wine, but it needs to establish itself as a worthwhile more expensive (if compared to cheap wines) alternative.

tweak'e
04-04-2011, 07:24 AM
wax/propolis/pollination/etcetera can come into it but its minor and can add workload or lower the amount of honey produced.

while i quite agree mead shouldn't try to replace wine, its still the main market that your chasing.

mmclean
04-04-2011, 09:39 AM
while i quite agree mead shouldn't try to replace wine, its still the main market that your chasing.

What makes you think mead should chase the wine market?

I think Brad Dahlhofer"s, B. Nektar Meadery showes that the mead market is more of an alternative to wine.

Dan McFeeley
04-04-2011, 10:49 AM
Although you can look at mead as a good alternative to wine, it needs to be demonstrated first how mead can stand on its own as something unique apart from wine.

That can be a problem with explaining mead to people who are unfamiliar with it -- "mead as a beverage fermented from honey"; the image that pops into people's heads is going to be a honey jar, the sweet taste of honey, and a drink that tastes like honey from that jar. That's like describing a fine wine in terms of grape juice (think supermarket grape juice) fermented into an alcoholic beverage.

--

BrewinNColorado
04-04-2011, 02:09 PM
McFeeley-

That is a very good point. How should mead be labeled? Do we group it into its own category that is separate from wine and "country wines" or “fruit wines”, or should it be categorized as a "honey wine"?

Also, how would categorizing it under wine or separately affect how we market mead, current legislation concerns, as well as sales of mead.

Just some other items to think and discuss.


Michael

Tiwas
04-04-2011, 02:28 PM
"Mead, if you're not one of the sheep"
"Real men drink mead. Go away!"
"If you actually had tastebuds, you'd like it"

:p

havoc64
04-04-2011, 02:36 PM
Well, I'm sorry if you've been mis-lead there Mike. Especially as there's little to no evidence for anyones lineage that far back. The greatest amount of available records are mainly Norman in origin. The Saxons didn't do a good job of recording stuff. What there is, or at least seems to be available for Saxon period (a.k.a. "the dark ages") comes from people like "the venerable Bede" and other ecclesiastic scholars, hence it's biased and incomplete.
fatbloke

I would have to disagree, there are plenty references to lineages if you are related to certain people. For instance, tracing your lineage to someone who was on the Mayflower, or to someone in a Royal Family, it becomes pretty easy as all of those lineages have been tracked extensively.

Not that I disagree with you as you are in the UK, just bringing up what I have discovered. Much of my research was done with assistance of several genealogy offices in the US, Canada, France and the UK. Believe me, explaining the fees on my credit card to the wife of these organizations in the UK and France wasn't easy...lol

I would agree on all your other points though. Industrial revolution and the ability to mass produce wine and beer did contribute to the fall of mead as a drink of choice. My point was more in reference to the beginning of the end. The fact that it became socially unacceptable started the downward trend.

As I am sure you're aware, the Normans tried to change EVERYTHING that dealt with the Saxons and Natives of Britain. Seeing how Mead was heavily embedded in the Saxon traditions of story telling and gathering, one can easily see why the Norman nobles would prefer Wine over it and turn their noses at it.

Not disagreeing with you that some nobles continued to produce it when the ingredients were available, but I am sure that just like today's social gatherings, one would have been ridiculed for serving the "Wrong" beverage instead of what was "fashionable" in the other Royal Courts of Europe. Food, Fashion, Music and Dance were all standards that constantly changed in the "Royal Court", one had to keep up with the latest trends or be though less of.

Additionally the Link of Mead with the Jews probably didn't help any either, especially during the time of the crusades.

You do bring up one of the most common thoughts of why Mead fell into disuse and that was Beer. The simplicity, speed and ease of producing beer in the long run was detrimental to both Mead and Wine. Especially here in the US where even wine consumption suffered.

I don't believe I brought the Romans into this. I was talking about the Roman Catholic Church, which would have preferred Grape Wine due to its tie with Italy and the Holy See.

All in all this is a very very complex issue, I believe there are three factors that will have to be overcome to have Mead become mainstream.

1. Consistent classification and category.
2. Refined production and aging processes.
3. Public acceptance.

As for price, people will pay top dollar for good beverages, you only need to look at the price of Single Malt Scotch, Aged Brandy and Aged Rum to know that.

As for the TV appearances of Mead, how about a good eats episode with Alton Brown? He could even have Ken as a guest on the show? Or maybe Iron Chef where the secret ingredient is Mead?

Happy Meading!

Mike

tycoon
04-04-2011, 05:15 PM
I agree with McFeeley's point that to increase the appeal of mead in the general public, a reference to wine is inevitable. At least for traditional meads and pyments, which share a lot of things with wine (my opinion about my own traditionals and pyments).

I am not so sure about cysers, methlegins, etc.

AToE
04-04-2011, 08:41 PM
I should mention too that at the Cup this year there were some amazing meads in the pro competition, ones that even with my distast for sweetness I can very much respect for their quality.

(I went down their expecting to have my eyes opened to semi-sweet meads and learn that I really do like balanced meads, rather than just good dry ones, but sadly my mouth won't cooperate. Believe me when I say my nearly complete preference for dry meads has nothing to do with wanting to be more "hardcore" or "serious wine drinker" or whatever, I wish I did like sweeter meads, as they make up the vast majority of what's out there. I definitely was able to appreciate the quality of the semi-sweet and sweet meadss, but it's just not stuff I could drink more than a few sips of happily)

There were some great meads from Canadian meaderies, and I got to try American ones like B.Nektar that I'd been looking forward to trying for ages (if you like meads sweeter than drier you should definitely check them out, good stuff).

So the quality is out there that will be certainly required for the future expansion of mead. Frankly, the pro stuff exceeded my expectations for the most part. There's some sub-par stuff on the market for sure, but every drink has that problem. People may need to be pushed into drinking mead a few times until they find the ones that are right for them, but I think there definitely is a mead that is right for absolutely anyone - which is not something wine and beer have going for them necessarily.

While the versatility of mead does lead to a lot of confusion, I think it's also one of it's major strengths.

wayneb
04-04-2011, 11:52 PM
There were some great meads from Canadian meaderies, and I got to try American ones like B.Nektar that I'd been looking forward to trying for ages (if you like meads sweeter than drier you should definitely check them out, good stuff).


I also lean toward drier meads, both in my taste, and in my production.

I'm hoping to convince Brad to do a few more dry meads, which was my ulterior motive for letting him sample some of mine! ;)

TheAlchemist
04-05-2011, 12:11 AM
OK, OK.

So, if there were a Ken Schramm show, I might bother to try to convince someone I know that has a TV to record it for me...

As an aside, did you know there are more people who watch cooking shows on TV than there are people who actually cook?

AToE
04-05-2011, 01:18 AM
I also lean toward drier meads, both in my taste, and in my production.

I'm hoping to convince Brad to do a few more dry meads, which was my ulterior motive for letting him sample some of mine! ;)

I was super excited when Aaron handed me a bottle of Brad's dry cyser at the awards ceremony (I think that's what it was) but unfortunately it (like much of what we drank at that ceremony) had been opened and mostly drained for judging between 1.5 and 2 days earlier - the traditional meads all held up fine, but this one had not, which is nothing wrong with it of course, just O2 doing it's nasty work over too long of a period.

As soon I am able too figure out how to get my hands on his meads through some fancy shipping I'll definitely be ordering a non-ruined bottle of the same, as well as any other meads he has at the time that happen to be of the dry variety.

I have to say some of the dry traditional meads in the commercial competition far outstrip my own attempts (no surprise) and really inspired me by confirming my wildest dreams of just what a dry mead could be like.

akueck
04-05-2011, 01:47 AM
I judged a varietal dry flight with Ken on the commercial side. Even though there were lots of other good meads I got to taste (including BOS during the first round, lucky me!), I still think that dry flight was my favorite overall. I also just prefer the dry stuff. The off-dry meads are also good, but I like them best on the very bottom end of off-dry.

tweak'e
04-05-2011, 02:03 AM
What makes you think mead should chase the wine market?

I think Brad Dahlhofer"s, B. Nektar Meadery showes that the mead market is more of an alternative to wine.


Although you can look at mead as a good alternative to wine, it needs to be demonstrated first how mead can stand on its own as something unique apart from wine.
--


McFeeley-

That is a very good point. How should mead be labeled? Do we group it into its own category that is separate from wine and "country wines" or “fruit wines”, or should it be categorized as a "honey wine"?

Also, how would categorizing it under wine or separately affect how we market mead, current legislation concerns, as well as sales of mead.

Just some other items to think and discuss.


Michael

that pretty much it in a nutshell. people who are not regular wine drinkers will keep clear of a honey wine. (of course there are the beer and spirit versions of mead for those markets but most people know mead as a wine.)
as its generally wine drinkers doing the buying and that there is no point trying to compete head to head with wine, you need to make mead standout on its own away from the general wine crowd without making it appeal only to a narrow niche of customers.

hence the dilemma of how to entice a wine drinker over to mead, especially if mead is a more expensive product.

Smarrikåka
04-05-2011, 05:40 AM
I think one market that isn't too hard to reach is those willing to pay a lot of money for beer, simply because there's not that great a deal of really expensive beers. And if they're not going to buy beer, I think they'd rather go for mead than wine, as far as fermented beverages go.

Tiwas
04-05-2011, 05:47 AM
Another market would be those with higher salaries who got out of golfing because it got too main stream, and who are sick and tired of people drinking boxed wines...Drinking mead would make them special again, and they'd be able to comment on something most people don't really have a chance of drinking.

mccann51
04-05-2011, 09:14 PM
I think one market that isn't too hard to reach is those willing to pay a lot of money for beer, simply because there's not that great a deal of really expensive beers. And if they're not going to buy beer, I think they'd rather go for mead than wine, as far as fermented beverages go.

From my experience in the US, there are plenty of expensive, high quality beers, as well as the market for them. That said, I agree with your point, that beer drinkers are probably more likely to accept mead. Beer - at least the craft brewing that I'm familiar with - is a far more eclectic and adventurous beverage than wine is (my ignorance of wine as compared to beer is undoubtedly showing), simply due to the large array of possible - and acceptable - ingredients and ways with which to put them together (not to say that the way grapes and yeast are put together to create such an array of flavors isn't impressive). Thus, craft beer drinkers are going to probably be more accepting of the diversity that mead offers.

Brad Dahlhofer
04-06-2011, 10:01 PM
Thanks for all the forum love everyone! As for my dry stuff, just you wait. The list is just going to get longer. The new dry Orange Blossom is now available. We're also going to be revisiting the dry Tupelo and some more dry melomels this year.

As for my take on the mead as a wine/ or uniquely its own. Sometimes I just have to explain it to people so they'll understand. I inevitably compare it to a wine because most people understand it better that way. I'm not offended. I just gotta do what I gotta do. :)

I think that mead may never be the worlds most popular beverage, but it has a tremendous amount of room for growth. Most people that buy our meads are NEW to mead. They might be wine drinkers or beer drinkers or both. The most important thing is to get people to just TRY them. ALL of them. There is almost always one of our meads that someone doesn't like. But there is also almost always one that they DO like. That's why I make so many different ones. It's not like they're going to get bad if they age a little while in the bottle while I try to sell them all.

I'm all about exploring the craft, my own tastes, our fans' tastes, and the tastes of those that AREN'T buying them.

TheAlchemist
04-07-2011, 05:37 PM
I'm all about exploring the craft...

Yep! Me, too.
It's an adventure!

havoc64
04-08-2011, 11:05 AM
I think that variety is the spice of life. Going to a vineyard and sampling all of their wine, you do find one that is too dry or too sweet or even too tart. Mead is the same.

I applaud Brad and all the other Professional Meaderies for giving the world a chance to sample and possibly fall in love with this wonderful beverage.

Hey Brad, do you guys ship to Kansas Yet? I really really want to try some of you mead!

Mike

Matrix4b
04-08-2011, 10:58 PM
For my part, I have only about a dozen batches of 5-6 gal range under my belt. I still consider myself new, only had one batch that was bad, watermellon. I think that the juice went bad prior to fermentation. Anyway, I have read where many people have done research as to going pro.

What I have been able to gather, in america that is, the government doesn't know how to clasify mead and the wineries like it that way. There are no laws for a Meadery directly. There are laws for Brewery (beer) and Winery (Wine) and for hard alcohols (Distilery) but no Meadery. True that most Meaderies have classified themselves as Wineries that produce "Honey Wine" but that is about as far as it goes. Due to the Prohibition and a host of other things consering laws and taxation of our brew, it tends to make it more difficult to get into the large scale of things.

On another note is the quality of honey. Honey is more flexible than grapes in flavor of juice. Honey also has no year after year consistancy that grains have. Grapes have vintages and that is the key to their varance in taste. Grape type (and Blend type of grapes) + Year of growth of wines = vintange and type of wine. The same can't be said of mead. Also, our product of Honey does not truely have an expiration date. It can solidify and that can lead to spoilage but baring that one batch of honey that is kept in good condition and prevented from spoiling can be used when it is needed. As mentioned in this thread: TIME is our enemy. Beer turn around is a few weeks. Wine turn around for fresh wine is more like a few months. When we then go out to aging a year or more and don't have a high cost that aged scotch does $/volume then our cause is more rough. Dispite this adversity: Mead market is growing. I would say that in America it is like a craft brew but still doesn't have the recognition or the volume that they do. So we are at the nitch market again.

Now what may help is aging techniques. If we can get a tasty product to be around 5% ABV like beer and consistant then we can compete better. If we have a turn around of maybe a couple of months aging at most then it would improve the popularity. Supply and Demand. You get a quick not easily forgoten supply that can ramp up with popularity like a beer can then we are in business.

I have read online that some genius out there has applied ultrasonics to wine to make a table wine rapid age and taste like a good aged wine quickly. Like aging it taste-wise in only a few hours, what takes a couple of years to do.

Has anyone experimented with this for Mead? To some it would be seen as cheating but comertially speaking, many techniues that are used in wine and beer are cheating. Like the very sophisticated filtering systems they have for wine to clear them in a very short time. Can we make a good mead product in varying degrees of taste as quickly as beer? And make it cheaply and by mead standards low ABV% like beer. Beer is mostly around 3-5% for most comercial beers. Imports like Guiness is like 9%, closer to mead but more expensive like wine in cost.

If we can make drinkable, this type of product that tastes just like or better than our home beers then all we need to worry about is marketing and laws. Easier hurdles than the magic element of TIME.

That's my $0.02 worth. Not that I would give up homebrewing. But in order to think on a large scale of popularity, comercial aspects of competition need to be satisfied. It's business, not personal. To many of us our homebrewing is personal.

Dan McFeeley
04-09-2011, 02:26 AM
Another idea for the Ken Schramm series -- combine a "Dirty Jobs" theme with Food Network themes. Ken visits a meadery, pitches in, does the hard work, afterwards sips the finished product and does food pairings.

This sub-thread remnds of me of my days with the Bloomingdale Jaycees, too many years ago that I care to remember, when I was living in New Jersey. End of year election nomination meetings went like this -- no one wanted to fill the positions of president, vp, treasurer, ect. So, whenever someone visited the bathroom, we nominated him for the position, when he wasn't able to object.

Ken is going to read this thread and find out that we voted him for a food network job. ;D

--

TheAlchemist
04-09-2011, 09:47 AM
Another idea for the Ken Schramm series -- combine a "Dirty Jobs" theme with Food Network themes. Ken visits a meadery, pitches in, does the hard work, afterwards sips the finished product and does food pairings. Ken is going to read this thread and find out that we voted him for a food network job. ;D

--

I'm all for it. Might even bother to get a functional TV.

mccann51
04-09-2011, 10:24 AM
What I have been able to gather, in america that is, the government doesn't know how to clasify mead and the wineries like it that way. There are no laws for a Meadery directly. There are laws for Brewery (beer) and Winery (Wine) and for hard alcohols (Distilery) but no Meadery. True that most Meaderies have classified themselves as Wineries that produce "Honey Wine" but that is about as far as it goes. Due to the Prohibition and a host of other things consering laws and taxation of our brew, it tends to make it more difficult to get into the large scale of things.


I agree. Out of curiosity, I was looking up the cost of wine permits in my state; there are two types: a farm winery permit that is ~1,100$; and, a full winery permit, ~11,000$. The former you can only ferment wines with fruit that can be grown in state, with the latter being more open and allowing for the fermentation of honey. That is an order of magnitude greater for a permit to ferment a sugar source (ie honey) that is still produced in state. It seems completely arbitrary, and a real hinderance to having small start-ups.




Now what may help is aging techniques. If we can get a tasty product to be around 5% ABV like beer and consistant then we can compete better. If we have a turn around of maybe a couple of months aging at most then it would improve the popularity. Supply and Demand. You get a quick not easily forgoten supply that can ramp up with popularity like a beer can then we are in business.

I have read online that some genius out there has applied ultrasonics to wine to make a table wine rapid age and taste like a good aged wine quickly. Like aging it taste-wise in only a few hours, what takes a couple of years to do.




My understanding is that the "ultrasonic aging" thing is a scam. Also, a 5% mead would probably be a very watery product. I think professional meaderies do only age for a few months, anyway.

AToE
04-09-2011, 12:53 PM
My ex also suggested doing low ABV sparkling meads in the style of beer or coolers (shudder). I just can't see it being good without being stabilized, backsweetened, force carb'd - and even then, it's a really weird version of mead if you ask me.

Take a glass of 12% or 15% mead you've made and mix it with 2 more glasses of water. Bang, there's an idea of how difficult making this good would be.

EDIT: Also, it seems like most meaderies do have a solid array of products they can turn around in a couple/few months, which is plenty fast enough.

Brad Dahlhofer
04-14-2011, 12:20 AM
Thanks!

I'm pretty sure we can ship to Kansas. Just follow the links to Winebuys.com from the Buy Online section of our website. It'll take you right to our page on their site.

Cheers!


I think that variety is the spice of life. Going to a vineyard and sampling all of their wine, you do find one that is too dry or too sweet or even too tart. Mead is the same.

I applaud Brad and all the other Professional Meaderies for giving the world a chance to sample and possibly fall in love with this wonderful beverage.

Hey Brad, do you guys ship to Kansas Yet? I really really want to try some of you mead!

Mike

Brad Dahlhofer
04-14-2011, 12:23 AM
Imports like Guiness is like 9%, closer to mead but more expensive like wine in cost.

I'm pretty sure Guiness is more like 3.9% ABV

AToE
04-14-2011, 12:23 AM
Thanks!

I'm pretty sure we can ship to Kansas. Just follow the links to Winebuys.com from the Buy Online section of our website. It'll take you right to our page on their site.

Cheers!

Nothing to Canada yet though I imagine? I might be better off trying to buy some in the US and have it shipped to me or something.

EDIT: Hey, and you finally added more of your line-up to your site, I see dry orange blossom in the regular lineup now, that's gotta be new!

Brad Dahlhofer
04-14-2011, 12:27 AM
My ex also suggested doing low ABV sparkling meads in the style of beer or coolers (shudder). I just can't see it being good without being stabilized, backsweetened, force carb'd - and even then, it's a really weird version of mead if you ask me.


Our Zombie Killer cherry cyser is only 6% ABV and is pretty tasty in my opinion. And the judges that gave it a gold medal at the mazer cup must have thought so, too. ;)

AToE
04-14-2011, 01:22 AM
Our Zombie Killer cherry cyser is only 6% ABV and is pretty tasty in my opinion. And the judges that gave it a gold medal at the mazer cup must have thought so, too. ;)

:) The "shudder" was aimed at the coolers, not at the idea of this style of mead, don''t worry!

My main worry making something like that would be whether any honey could show, being in such a small concentration (how'd you get a cyser to 6% by the way? Some water in the must? Generally apple juice alone will take you to 5/6% or higher from what I've seen).

Man - you have SO MANY kinds of mead that aren't on your website!

wildoates
04-14-2011, 01:53 AM
Alan, stop it! I don't want to know what they don't have on their website!

/torture

:)

akueck
04-14-2011, 02:12 AM
Our Zombie Killer cherry cyser is only 6% ABV and is pretty tasty in my opinion. And the judges that gave it a gold medal at the mazer cup must have thought so, too. ;)

Aha! That must have been the "serve cold, Zombies don't like cold" mead. That whole flight was all sparkling fruit (raspberry or cherry) cysers, very strange. I did like that one though, apparently enough to push it along. (memories are not terribly clear :p) I like the "genre" of the session meads, makes it more accessible and a "have one after work" kind of beverage.

moonie
04-14-2011, 02:58 PM
I'm pretty sure Guiness is more like 3.9% ABV

That maybe the case for the U.S. or Canadian brewed Guiness but I can assure you the Guiness I had recently that was imported from Ireland was 9%. Local home brew store sells wines, meads and lots of interesting beers had a tasting a month ago of about 6 different imported Irish beers, from lighter to darker, the Guiness was the darkest.

wayneb
04-14-2011, 03:14 PM
While I'm sure that Guinness is one of the darkest brews sold commercially, I'm also sure (having visited the brewery at St. James' Gate a few years back) that Guinness Draught clocks in at an ABV of between 4.1 and 4.3%. It is in fact a relative lightweight, where ethanol is concerned. That is in fact part of the reason that it sells so well in the home country. It is the ultimate "session stout," where a pint or two won't come close to getting you hammered.

moonie
04-14-2011, 03:23 PM
It would seem we are all incorrect.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guinness

Seems it ranges from about 4% to 8%

What I had was the Guinness Foreign Extra Stout at what appears to have been 7.5%

wayneb
04-14-2011, 04:34 PM
Not at all. If you had mentioned you were drinking the "Foreign Extra," from a bottle rather than on draught, I'd have known what you were talking about, although claiming 9% you were mislead a bit to the high side. But Guinness comes in an array of sub-styles and strengths, and for that matter is fermented world-wide in a variety of breweries. Whenever someone mentions that they're drinking Guinness from Ireland I immediately think they're talking about the draught Guinness, since most of the bottled varieties in other parts of the world (i.e. not in the EC) are coming from breweries not located anywhere near Dublin. While the base wort is derived from a common Guinness recipe (and for some of the varieties the base wort originates from Dublin), the various bottled brews get modified in different places, and that is what is in part responsible for the wide variance in ABV between the different Guinness branded products - heck, they can even vary in strength within one product line (the Foreign Extra is a good example) depending on what brewery actually implements the fermentation. Last I knew (and my info is a couple of decades old now) the majority of the Foreign Extra sold in North America was actually brewed in Canada - by a division of Labatt's. I stand by my original statement, that Guinness draught (the one from the brewery in Dublin) ranges from 4.1 to 4.3% ABV. BTW - the origin of the Foreign Extra in North America being in Canada allows Guinness to mark those bottles as "Imported" when sold in the US, and that (somewhat intentionally) obfuscates the actual source of the beer.

Smarrikåka
04-14-2011, 04:43 PM
One thing that I think more meaderies should start doing, is putting the year on the label, and preferably also more information about the honey (what kind of honey it is, and what area it is from) and also for the other ingredients used. This will require a lot more paper and labelwork, since every time you make something it needs to basically be a new product. I think most meaderies don't do this simply because they don't have to.
But I think it's pretty much a requirement, in order to get serious attention from the high-end wine buying crowd, who generally are very curious about that sort of thing.
The downside is that it might be a bottleneck due to the limited supply, to get that huge "nationwide" launches for a product. But in most cases that's just hoping for too much at any rate.

AToE
04-14-2011, 04:58 PM
I actually think that a year on the bottle doesn't go far enough - with wines, a year is plenty, because you know roughly what month fermentation started based on whether it's from north or south of the equator, so you know how old it is.

But mead can be made any time of year - so if I buy a bottle of 2010 mead right now, it could be 5 months old, or it could be 16 months old! I'd go with year and month that fermentation started.

But, this would certainly cost money. Breweries that I know of that do this use a blank spot on the label and a machine that prints onto it. That way they don't have to worry about having too many of a label on hand, or having to order small qtys. That machine's gotta cost money though, and that also means more administration to keep track of it.

But for me it's a big deal, I would like to know how old what I'm drinking is.

mmclean
04-14-2011, 05:09 PM
I actually think that a year on the bottle doesn't go far enough - with wines, a year is plenty, because you know roughly what month fermentation started based on whether it's from north or south of the equator, so you know how old it is.

Like Budweiser's Born On Date.

If you want to play with the big boys, you gotta play by their rules. Let them spend the big bucks on marketing and copy what works.

Great marketers don't borrow, they steal. Ideas that is.

Smarrikåka
04-14-2011, 05:23 PM
If you do date, or month, I think it should be attemptred to be done by the honey instead of the fermentation, since that is how they do it for wines. And another reason to do so, is that honey can vastly different in different parts of the year, even if it has the same or similar nectar source. So if you're using spring, or autumn honey, that will be affecting the mead quite a lot. Same goes for fruit, berries and anything else that grows if that is used in the mead, as they too will go through stages of development throughout the year.

Either would be an improvement though.

AToE
04-14-2011, 06:02 PM
I'm going to dissagree on that - with wine the grapes and the wine have the same age, so it's a bit of moot point to say they're dating one or the other specifically.

I agree that the location and year of the honey would be cool, but it's not as necessary as the age of the mead in my opinion.

I'd rather know how old the mead itself is. If it happens to be a honey that varies a lot depending on whether it's from the spring or fall, then I would hope the meadmaker is just using one or the other for a specific mead, and if they're not, then yes, I agree that would be good info to have (I know in some cases spring vs fall honey might as well be considered totally different things - especially when we're talking wildflower. When it comes to varietals though I don't think there's as much drastic swing, possibly because that variety of flower only blooms for one period a year (not in all cases)).

Smarrikåka
04-14-2011, 06:26 PM
Well, it's not a moot point for me.

I've been making mead from 2010 honey so far, but the majority of the batches have been set in 2011. By June/July the new batches will start to be made with honey from 2011, and I kind of want to differentiate between that, so that people know what year the honey is from.

AToE
04-14-2011, 06:53 PM
Well, it's not a moot point for me.

I've been making mead from 2010 honey so far, but the majority of the batches have been set in 2011. By June/July the new batches will start to be made with honey from 2011, and I kind of want to differentiate between that, so that people know what year the honey is from.

When I say moot point I'm refering only to grape wine - where they are always (pretty much) the same age.

I totally agree that what you're planning with listing the age of the honey makes sense, and is good info for the customer, especially if there is a noticable difference between the honeys. But I would also strongly encourage the age of the mead to be included, because aging is such a huge factor in mead.

If I had to pick between one piece of information or the other I'd go with the age of the mead, but in a perfect world I'd love both bits of info!

TheAlchemist
04-14-2011, 08:04 PM
... Local home brew store sells wines, meads and lots of interesting beers...

Ahem...What's "local" for you, moonie? I notice an absence of geograpy associated with you...

Smarrikåka
04-14-2011, 08:06 PM
Unfortunately quite far from your "local"

Here is link to a map to all the "local" places we have been to:

http://www.mjodhamnen.se/expeditionen

Edit: Damn, wrong thread/person.... oh...well, I'll let it stand.

TheAlchemist
04-14-2011, 08:13 PM
Unfortunately quite far from your "local"



Thanks, Dear. Sorry I'm so far from "local" for you, bit I do think one day (no time soon) I'll do a "Mead World Tour" and would be gald to make a stop by you...

akueck
04-14-2011, 09:08 PM
Vintage dating is a good idea; most wine consumers will expect to see a date on the bottle, front and center, along with either the brand name, batch/blend name, or varietal name. Basically copy the new-world style of wine label. Personally I would go by the year the honey was pulled, regardless of the date of fermentation. Yes, these could be very different, but for a meadery with limited storage space I'd guess the dates would not be more than 6 or so months off. I'd stay away from including month/season in the large print (that would be peculiar to mead, and possibly confusing), but would like to see it in the fine print, e.g. "made with Spring Colorado Wildflower honey" if that is useful information or part of the branding of the product.

Use of place-names sounds like a good idea (e.g. "2010 Adirondack Wildflower Mead" or "2010 Wildflower Mead, Adirondack Mountains") insofar as it mimics the wine labels. Kind of like the AVAs and AOCs of the wine world. These would not have the regulation of the wine labels, but hey you have to start somewhere.

Basically the consumer is looking for a few key pieces of information on the label. A savvy/snobby consumer might read the small print, but for the most part people just want to know: what, when, and where/who. That's how you pick out a bottle of wine after all. The big print should just capture those things, e.g. B. Nektar 2010 Dry Cyser (optional below that: location of honey, apple source). Done. Adding anything else will confuse the person staring at the bottle and they'll find something they recognize. Put a logo nice and big above the words and you're set.

AToE
04-14-2011, 09:12 PM
I agree with all that, a big bold year on the front (we can argue all day about whether that year is for the mead or the honey, let's agree to dissagree!) and then the month of fermentation/month of honey production in fine print on the back.

mccann51
04-17-2011, 03:59 AM
Put a logo nice and big above the words and you're set.

This most important part, assuming people like the logo.

Chevette Girl
04-17-2011, 07:50 PM
BTW - the origin of the Foreign Extra in North America being in Canada allows Guinness to mark those bottles as "Imported" when sold in the US, and that (somewhat intentionally) obfuscates the actual source of the beer.

That struck me as hilarious...

Chevette Girl
04-17-2011, 08:10 PM
I agree with all that, a big bold year on the front (we can argue all day about whether that year is for the mead or the honey, let's agree to dissagree!) and then the month of fermentation/month of honey production in fine print on the back.

I think if I went commercial, the front label would be the pretty one with the generic info (logo, name of wine/mead, alcohol content and pitch year), back label would be simpler (less expensive to print in small batches) and would include things like honey source/date and stuff specific to the batch...

But yeah, we could argue forever about what date to put on things. On my own house labels I list "Started on" and "Bottled on" dates so there's some indication of the actual age of the wine...

moonie
04-18-2011, 09:58 AM
Ahem...What's "local" for you, moonie? I notice an absence of geograpy associated with you...

Winston-Salem North Carolina

Medsen Fey
04-18-2011, 10:58 AM
Vintage dating is a good idea;

I agree, but apparently the TTB doesn't.
Unless something has been changed, meads cannot be vintage dated according to this thread (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=13947&highlight=vintage).

ken_schramm
04-18-2011, 04:03 PM
Whoa. Where to start?

I'd be delighted to host the new Food Network program on mead, but I haven't heard from Alton's producers yet, and I don't think I should be holding my breath. The networks and production companies are only - in the last couple of years - getting into wine TV, and the market among wine lovers is huge. But it's a nice thought, and I'm flattered.

Simply put, you can quadruple the production of a vineyard by plowing 4 times the acreage and planting the vines. You can say the same for grain production, even more so, because you don't have to wait 10 years for the vines to start producing. The same cannot be said for quadrupling the output of an apiary. The scalability is simply not as straightforward. Beekeeping has a pretty serious skill set in comparison to broken ground agriculture. Vines and cereal grains don't sting. And there is a whopping big market outside of mead for virtually all of the honey produced in the US, whereas the grapes used in wine and the barley used in beer are essentially produced exclusively for those markets. There are too many grapes in many places around the planet right now, and that is not at all true with honey.

The ability to ramp up production rapidly helped a ton in moving wine and beer into the mainstream of Eur-Asian drinking. Mead has suffered from a thousand year head start, in terms of market development, advancements in production technique and meadery food science knowledge. We have much to overcome.

The use of the appellation system and vintages as marketing fodder is a great example. Mead, this far, has no industry marketing strategy for helping consumers understand the quality spectrum and product differentiation. That also goes for varietal designations. Beer has its styles, which are getting better and better known by the public, as well as a strong locavore following. That is benefiting meaderies, as well, though.

Another real challenge that we face is the limited supplies of some of the best mead making honeys. No matter how much we want more, there is not going to be an unlimited supply of Tupelo, or even Orange Blossom honey. To some extent, this creates a true luxury element to the best varietal meads (if demand increases as it has been, supply can never be expanded to meet it), and that is something we can capitalize on.

I don't see any reason to shy away from sweet meads in pursuit of an expansion in the market. d'Yquem, world-class Ports and German TBAs do not get slammed with the pejorative use of "syrupy." They are fantastic, exquisitely crafted and complex sweet dessert wines. Great mead can stand in their midst without any apologies (I tried it at a $500-a-head tasting event, and THoD not only held its own, it rocked the house). There is more than enough revenue in that sector to support a dandy little mead industry. We do our industry a disservice if we diss sweet meads here or anywhere. Maybe sweet is not your style, but that does not mean that great sweet meads are not great beverages.

I'm supposed to be pruning raspberry plants. More later.

Ken

AToE
04-18-2011, 05:23 PM
I definitely don't mean to diss sweet meads, and I know it must get tiring for people to hear me talking about wanting more dry ones! I had some great sweet meads at the Mazer Cup, and I know a lot of people do like this style. There's obviously tons of people who like it, look at 90% of the recipes on this forum, and 95% of what meaderies are producing. Obviously sweet mead is popular.

But I'll hold by my statement that everyone I've ever talked to that had tried mead said the same thing: too sweet. Now, this isn't a huge cross section of people, we're talking maybe 30 or 40 people have said this to me (shows how few have even tried the stuff), but still, 100% said the same thing. The only person I ever met who'd had a chance to try a dry mead had made it themself. (Note, that when I say "everyone" or "only person" and such, I'm leaving out anyone on this forum or from the Mazer Cup, I'm just talking about people I've talked to about mead in my brew club and friends/family/etc)

Also, please bear in mind that I'm up here in Canada, where our selection of mead is much lower than the US. I'm not intending to slam sweet meads at all, just reporting what I've heard!

So I'll stand by my opinion that there simply needs to be more high quality dry (or even off-dry) meads out there for the rest of the people who don't like the sweet sweet stuff. I don't think sweet mead is a problem, I think the problem is that too many people think it's the only option.

Another issue is simply labelling, I've seen a lot of meads that make no mention of whether they're dry, sweet, inbetween, etc. And some of them seem to not understand what "dry" means, I've had some fairly sweet meads that were labeled as dry. Many meaderies are doing a great job of making this clearer for the public though, and I think this is essential.

So yeah, my main things are proper labelling (make all the sweet mead you can sell, just let me know it's sweet before I buy it!) and at least some expanded availability of good quality drier meads to show people that mead doesn't have to be sweet.

Definitely don't want to offend anyone!

mccann51
04-19-2011, 11:31 AM
So I'll stand by my opinion that there simply needs to be more high quality dry (or even off-dry) meads out there for the rest of the people who don't like the sweet sweet stuff. I don't think sweet mead is a problem, I think the problem is that too many people think it's the only option.

Couldn't of said it better myself.

ken_schramm
04-19-2011, 05:08 PM
I think the biggest issue for most folks is what some folks refer to as flabbiness - sweetness without balancing acidity or tannic astringency. AKA: Cloying.

Acidity is what makes great dessert wines inviting. All of the wines I mentioned earlier finish with a "thwack." Curt Stock is great at nailing that with his fantastic black currant meads, and it is what makes THoD seem far less sweet than it is. Lack of acidity is a big issue in many sweet traditional meads which do not have acidity or crank from fruit or other components kicking you in the pants on the way past. If that is what y'all's friends are objecting to, I have to agree. That imbalance will prevent mead from gaining much cred with the wine critic set, who will (rightly) blast overly sweet mead with no mercy.

I judged dry meads both days at the Mazer Cup. While there were very good entries in both camps, there were more good entries in the amateur competition than in pro. Some of that may come down to the fact that amateur meadmakers have access to excellent honey in quantities scaled just nicely to their production, but commercial meaderies may not have the same options. Good honey is critical to good dry mead, as what is left after you strip the sugar away is the character that the nectar source, and to some extent the fermentation, provides. In all instances, any unappealing component that may have been hidden by the sweetness is now front and center. shaking a tail feather. It is the equivalent of what brewers of light lagers call "naked brewing." You need to pair that honey with a yeast that will highlight the pallet of aromatics and flavors that the variety brings to the game, and there is scant research to make all that clear to meadmakers, commercial or amateur.

These hills can be climbed. If we really want to build this dynamo to the heights we think it can reach, we all have work to do. Pete and I have already been discussing an idea to initiate collaborative efforts to help the hobby/industry in that regard. Let's let him catch his breath for a couple of weeks, and then we'll drop that news.

KDS

keepitlow
04-29-2011, 05:15 PM
The other day while driving home from work and passing several wine stores, I started pondering why mead isn't more mainstream then what it presently is. With there being (to my knowledge) over 150 different meaderies in the U.S and around the world, why isn't mead more mainstream?

Could it be because of...

meaderies are small so don't have a marketing budget?
laws make it harder to market?
general public is more accustomed to wine and unwilling to try new products?
mead doesn't fit into how consumers are drinking wine?
Wine stores and restaurants are reluctant to add mead for whatever reason.
Or is there something else I missed?

The reason I ask is there are a large number of meaderies and a larger number of home brewers making mead. With that, one would think that there would be a larger variety of mead on the shelf and served in restaurants. When I go into the larger wine stores in my area, there are only a few local meads on the shelf and none of the restaurants serve mead. Is this true in your areas as well?

With the very limited selection, it is really difficult to try different meads, and I cannot bring myself to order online.

What are your thoughts on what we (home brewers) can do to change this?

Thanks!
Michael

I think good mead is hard to make. i made 1 mead and 7 country wines. Pretty much all my country wines have potential for being decent. My mead???

Have had lots of mead from round the world. Most of it is crap. I trash it rather than drink it. With fruit wines they are much easier to make.

I guess same can be said for counrty wines too. Why are they not more mainstream, even though they are easier to make?

wildoates
04-29-2011, 05:28 PM
What haven't you liked about the meads you've tasted?

AToE
04-29-2011, 05:41 PM
I've recently had quite a bit of mead, both commercial and home made, and the majority of it certainly was not crap (some was though...)! There's a big difference between meads that fit our own personal tastes and "good vs bad", totally different things.

Most of the meads I tasted were somewhere between good and excellent quality (I had the happy chance to try well over 100 meads on this wonderful occasion) - but the number of ones that fit my personal tastes? Maybe 5% were the kind of mead that I would like to taste.

That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with the others, just that I don't like them personally.

EDIT: The point to that was that it's actually not that hard to make good mead - if you have advice from people on this website and follow their advice, you can make great mead on your first try. If you keep winging it, or using outdated processes, or don't properly understand/follow the data you get from your ferment... then yes it can indeed be difficult to make.

TheAlchemist
04-29-2011, 05:59 PM
What haven't you liked about the meads you've tasted?

Indeed.
When it comes to mead, what's not to like?

AToE
04-29-2011, 06:04 PM
One problem for certain consumers like myself is when you have fairly narrow tastes. I don't like spiced meads (unless it's extremely subtle, and it had better not be clove!), I don't like any sweetness in a mead unless it's got loads of acidity and tanning (KSchramm's HOD is a good example of a sweet mead I actually liked). This vastly narrows down the amount of mead a person can enjoy that others make, frankly I wish I liked more sweet meads!

I think keepitlow has near opposite taste to mine. From what I remember he likes a darker (I like darker) thick sweet mead like Moniack (spelling?), so a lot of what's out there might not be to his personal preferance.

Chevette Girl
05-06-2011, 02:56 PM
I guess same can be said for counrty wines too. Why are they not more mainstream, even though they are easier to make?

That one's simple - because grapes are the standard around which most research has been done and most equipment and procedures have been developed. Perhaps compared to mead, fruit wines are easier to get right, but compared to making grape wines, fruit wines are a lot more finicky in the fruit handling AND you have to add sugar as well which is an added step that grape wineries don't have to deal with... my $.02 anyway...

havoc64
05-31-2011, 01:56 PM
Well this past weekend I was super lucky to get to visit Redstone Meadey. It was PACKED!

I did get a pic with the Owner and I sampled everything he had. We talked a little about yeast and whatnot and even about his Cyser.

I bought almost $200 worth of Mead and was super happy to have gotten to meet a meader who went Pro.

I must say, looking at the crowd who was there, and the amount of Mead purchased, that at least in this part of Boulder, Mead is very much alive!

I'll post a pic when my daughter gets the picture downloaded.

Mike

havoc64
05-31-2011, 08:58 PM
Ok as promised here is a pic of David and I. Like I said, the place was super busy, and David was all by himself, but he still had time for EVERYONE that was there. He answered questions patiently and was a superb host. I have been all around the world and have been to many a winery and brewery, but I must say, David surpassed all of them with his winning smile and personality..and great mead!

I would venture a guess that if all of the commercial meaderies are like this one, then by word of mouth alone mead will become more mainstream.

http://i688.photobucket.com/albums/vv249/havoc64/DSCN2149.jpg

wildoates
06-01-2011, 02:37 AM
Very nice!

Chevette Girl
06-04-2011, 04:03 PM
Maybe mead needs better advertising (http://www.gocomics.com/inkpen/2008/03/21)... ;D

TheAlchemist
08-15-2011, 09:56 AM
They're pouring White Winter Winery mead at the Bristol RenFaire. A bit sweet, but I guess that's mead-for-the-masses.