View Full Version : What I learned at the Mazer Cup

03-21-2016, 09:56 AM
Hi everyone.

I thought I would share my experience at the Mazer Cup this past week.

Having never been to any contest before it's not surprising how much I learned. I'm sure being at the largest mead competition in the world might also have it's own merits.

It was not a surprise to me that everyone there was really genuine, and super generous with good will towards others. It seemed to me that everyone was readily available to share their knowledge with whom ever would ask. I only personally knew 2 other people at the beginning of the event and quickly made several friends. I could easily see how in short order one would say the mead community at large is one big, extended family. I feel very fortunate to have made acquaintances with current Meadery owners as I too wish to own a meadery in the future. Several offered to help me wade through some of the government red tape and equipment challenges that lay ahead.

It's unique in so many ways to see competitors, open and freely helping the other competitors right next to them. "A rising tide floats all boats". In this case that phrase could never be truer.

I was very fortunate to have been able to immediately sit at the judging tables as a steward. I was a bit nervous only for the first few minutes, and then realized my job wasn't to complicated providing you're not a complete airhead. To sit and listen to the judges confer with each other about how they perceived each entry, and how they justified their scores was very educational. To be able to taste each entry once the judges were finished and then read all their notes after I was finished entering the scores into the system really caused my confidence to soar in my ability to get accurate tasting notes. So much so I will start to prepare to become a certified judge as soon as I can make it happen.

I tasted more different meads the first half of the first day, than I had in my combined prior life experience. Of course you have no idea who made what, but that's besides the point. I have made different categories in the past, that I was able to finally taste someone else's for the first time. It's just like everything else. I tasted many good meads and also didn't like a few as well. The really good ones were special and stood up immediately to be reckoned with. I can't imagine how hard it became for the judges as they moved into the award winning flights. And then even more so for "best of show". They did comment, how every year the bar gets raised higher and higher in both the pro and homebrew categories.

The very next morning I was again asked to steward the judging tables. I tried to give that spot up to others that didn't have a chance the previous day but there were no takers so right back at it for round two. In my ignorance I expected that I might see a drop in quality now that we were doing the homebrew categories. Man was I wrong! Some of the judges that owned their own meaderies said that home brewers might actually have an advantage. As homebrewers we make things in smaller batches and can pick and choose our ingredients. Due to smaller batches, coupled with the fact that we aren't looking to recoup our expenses. We can splurge and buy whatever we want. They, on the other hand need to turn a profit to keep the lights on. That's not to say they cut corners at all, but, it is something that has to be factored in to stay alive.The homebrewers were fabulous. It was clear that the good stuff in both categories deserved to be there because they were of world class quality. My hat goes off to all you wonderful mead masters that do this for the love of it all.

The entire operation is very classy. The staff were all top notch for sure. And the volunteers all worked tirelessly. The combination of all the hard earned experience from leadership, professionalism from the judges and untold countless hours of dedication from everyone that puts a hand to the plow blended seamlessly together for the overall betterment of the whole experience. Kind of like making a good mead isn't it! :)

As for my own personal "first time entries". I mostly chose to send in things that I was desirous of feedback from the judges. Each entrant gets the judging notes from the competition for every entry you send in. How valuable is that !!! I learned that skill is involved from the very start. The way you fill out the information about your entry can work for, or against you. To start with, make sure you don't do what I did and mix up your bottles when attaching the labels. A good mead, regardless of how well it presents, in the wrong catagory just will not do well, as you might imagine. Don't enter something that is sweet into a semisweet category. If you are unsure ask for feedback from others. Don't list something on the label if you can't find it on your tongue. Less is sometimes more. Don't over do things. Too much of a good thing is still too much.
Don't start getting everything tweaked and put together too close to when you need to mail out your stuff. That way you won't feel pressured to hurry. Bottle and label things correctly. Don't second guess yourself. Make, and turn in, what you like, and not what others like, or what you might think the judges will like. Don't be discouraged about a score you might not like. Especially if you sent in something for feedback to begin with. Learn from it! Have fun. This is a lifelong journey. Enjoy the getting there because we will never arrive. I'm certain all the medal winners this weekend want to do" better still".

I would like to conclude that for all of you who would ever have an opportunity to go to the cup. The experience you will gain in just a few days, will propel you farther down the path toward great mead, than what you could ever hope to acquire on your own several times over in just one event.

We are very fortunate to have the access we do to all the knowledge our forerunners have given us on the internet, through magazines and lastly this great forum.

Thank you Vicky and Pete for all you have given us here at Got Mead.

Thanks to all the moderators, mentors/teachers and to each and everyone one of you here who call this place home.

Medsen Fey
03-21-2016, 10:13 AM
Great post Squatchy!
I'm envious as I've yet to be able to make my pilgrimage to Boulder/Broomfield to share in the experience. I reckon I just need to commit!

03-21-2016, 10:24 AM
Great post Squatchy!
I'm envious as I've yet to be able to make my pilgrimage to Boulder/Broomfield to share in the experience. I reckon I just need to commit!


Come next year and if you would like I can put you up not far from there.

03-21-2016, 11:16 AM
Great summary! We should have put a wireless camera on you so we could be there too. Did you notice any mainstream media there?

03-21-2016, 11:31 AM
Thanks for sharing your experience. Sounds like a great time!!

03-21-2016, 12:30 PM
Thanks for sharing Squatchy. That was a very useful report.

03-21-2016, 04:10 PM
Excellent report Squatchy! I learned more about the cup than I ever knew just from your post. I hope to follow in your footsteps one year soon.

03-21-2016, 06:28 PM
Great summary! We should have put a wireless camera on you so we could be there too. Did you notice any mainstream media there?

Hi Doug

Unfortunately I didn't see any mainstream meadia. <(Get it :) LOL

There may have been some less than mainstream people at the banquet dinner when the awards were passed out. My hunch is perhaps either someone was hired by "the Cup" staff to take pics and maybe make a short video/blog spot/facebook thing. Or, they just had the gear for there own use. I'm not much of a gear head with camera stuff (thankfully) but it was more than a home grown camera but not the full blown professional model. At least not TV news type gear.

03-21-2016, 11:18 PM
Great synopsis. As Mazer828 said, I now know more about the Mazer Cup than from any previous posting.

03-22-2016, 12:19 AM
Great narrative! My schedule didn't work for attending and helping this year, but it sounds like a must-do next year.

03-26-2016, 01:53 PM
Wish I could go someday, but it's so far away.

03-26-2016, 11:01 PM
Well, Marek makes it from Poland....I hope to someday combi e Mazer Cup with a trip home some day.... At least once. Maybe on my bucket list.

04-04-2016, 01:52 PM
Ah, cool, thanks for posting this. :)