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Dan McFeeley
11-17-2004, 08:00 PM
Good article on this year's International Meadfest and the
International Mead Association at this URL:

http://www.dailycamera.com/bdc/cda/article_print/0,1983,BDC_2517_3287519_ARTICLE-DETAIL-PRINT,00.html

International Mead Festival, new trade association hope to promote glories
of honey wine

By Cindy Sutter, Camera Food Editor
November 2, 2004

A guy walks into a bar.

He says to the bartender: "I'd like a glass of off-dry mead. What do you
recommend?"

OK, so there's no punchline here, but mead makers locally and nationally are
hoping mead becomes a part of the cultural vernacular at least as well-known
as this classic opening line to a joke.

To that end, mead makers will be participating in the third International
Mead Festival to be held in Boulder Friday and Saturday, and also are
setting up an International Mead Association, in hopes of making mead a
household word and a sought-out beverage.

With five meaderies in Colorado and two in Boulder County out of about 60
nationwide, the state is becoming something of a hotbed in what producers
hope will become a mead revolution of sorts.

"We're throwing around the term (that Colorado) could be the Napa Valley of
meaderies," says Julia Herz, owner of www.honeywine.com and one of the
organizers of the new association. Other important areas of ferment, so to
speak, are California and the Pacific Northwest, she says.

The association will be modeled after the Boulder-based Association of
Brewers, which coined the term microbrewery and helped educate the public
about the desirability of craft beers.

Herz believes mead could follow a similar path.

"The Association of Brewers through over 20 years of holding the Great
American Beer Festival has shown the world that America makes some of the
highest quality beer in the world." The festival's awards system has been
instrumental in improving that quality as well, she says.

With mead, education will be an important component. For the uninitiated,
mead is honey wine. It may be made simply with honey, wine and yeast or also
may incorporate fruit or herbs. Ethiopian honey wine, which is believed to
have been made for 3,000 years or longer, is known as tej and made with
added herbs called gesho. Tej is made using spontaneous fermentation, much
like sourdough bread depends on wild yeast in the air to create the bread's
starter. Another well-known style of mead is Polish, which is sweet and
similar to a dessert wine. However, American meaderies are creating their
own style of mead, Herz says.

"They're resurrecting the world's oldest beverage with a modern twist. (The
meads are) not sometimes as heavy and dense," she says. "They're more
modeled after a balanced sweetness and acidity, which you get in grape
wines."

Changing the perception that mead is always sweet may be one of the
association's toughest tasks. In fact, mead may be sweet, semi-sweet, off
dry or dry. It depends on how much fermentation is allowed, Herz says. The
higher the alcohol content, the less sugar the mead will have.

Roberta Backlund, one of the wine managers at Liquor Mart, says customers
usually expect mead to be sweet.

"I'm not sure where that comes from," she says. "Honey connotes sweetness to
a lot of people. I show them the alcohol content to debunk the myth. It's
not a sweet libation at all."

Backlund, who served as a judge at the mead festival last year, recommends
mead for people who want to try something different and who are allergic to
sulfites.

She says many meads compare in sweetness to a Riesling and pair well with
spicy foods such as chicken curry or Szechwan dishes.

Backlund has seen a growing interest in meads, mostly she says because of
the efforts of mead makers, especially local ones.

Redstone Meadery, the first meadery in Boulder County, has seen a big jump
in its business, according to David Myers, chairman of the mead.

The meadery was started in 2000, and the first product came into the
marketplace in 2001. The company produced 8,000 liters in 2002, its first
full year, 14,000 in 2003 and expects 20,000 for 2004. The mead is sold in
10 states.

"It's reflective of what's happening in the mead world," he says, as
meaderies grow in size and number.

A few years in the future, Herz and Myers hope mead will be a common
beverage in bars and restaurants. They hope the new association will promote
that growth.

"We need more meaderies to get a mass consciousness going on, so people
start to look for mead more regularly," Myers says.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Cindy Sutter at (303) 473-1335 or
sutterc@dailycamera.com.

Copyright 2004, The Daily Camera. All Rights Reserved.

Vicky Rowe
11-18-2004, 02:12 AM
Coolness! Thanks for finding that, Dan! BTW, what is your thinking on the email I sent? E me, ok?

Vicky

jab
11-18-2004, 08:41 AM
You know, articles like this are great and all to get the message about mead out to the public but the blaring inaccuracies aren't going to help the cause at all.



"It may be made simply with honey, wine and yeast or also
may incorporate fruit or herbs. "


Incorrect. While some people may blend their product with wine it is 'simply made' with honey, water, and yeast.



"Another well-known style of mead is Polish, which is sweet and
similar to a dessert wine."


Again incorrect, while some Polish made meads may be sweet others will be dry or somewhere in between. This makes it sound like any sweet mead would be considered 'Polish-style' mead. Polish isn't a style of mead but rather a place where mead is made.



Roberta Backlund, one of the wine managers at Liquor Mart, says customers usually expect mead to be sweet.

"I'm not sure where that comes from," she says. "Honey connotes sweetness to a lot of people. I show them the alcohol content to debunk the myth. It's not a sweet libation at all."


??? And this woman was a judge at the festival last year? What myth is she debunking? Alcohol content doesn't prove a thing. If I tried hard enough I could manage a 18-20% mead that was so sweet it would melt your teeth off. She states that '[i]t's not a sweet libation at all" and then is said to have compared it to Riesling! I truly hope that her comments and quotes were taken out of context by a clearly poor quality writing/editing job.

As if mead isn't already struggling to gain mass acceptance we have to contend with writers/editors who obviously don't do their homework before spewing their crap to the public.

Sorry for the rant but that article is just sad, sad, sad.

Dan McFeeley
11-18-2004, 12:46 PM
Coolness! Thanks for finding that, Dan! BTW, what is your thinking on the email I sent? E me, ok?

Vicky

Don't know -- I didn't get it! :o

I sent you a reply via back channels, waiting
for your reply.

Dan McFeeley
11-18-2004, 12:50 PM
You know, articles like this are great and all to get the message about mead out to the public but the blaring inaccuracies aren't going to help the cause at all.

[....]

As if mead isn't already struggling to gain mass acceptance we have to contend with writers/editors who obviously don't do their homework before spewing their crap to the public.

Sorry for the rant but that article is just sad, sad, sad.


Thanks for the critique! I was glad for the coverage but yeah, there were the inaccuracies you pointed out that detracted from the article.

A big problem -- sure, the reporters should be doing their homework, but the information isn't out there, or at least, it's not readilly accessable. Newspapers should be more careful to give these assignments to people who have a background in writing on the food/wine scene. They're less likely to make mistakes.

Oskaar
11-18-2004, 02:00 PM
Dan,

That's a great point. We as a group cannot count on the media to produce a fully accurate and well researched article on mead. But, as a group, if we want accurate and exciting information to be pressed out to the public, we have to jump up on the soapbox and promote our own cause.

My experience with the media has helped me understand that if someone isn't out there providing accurate and easy to access information to them, the media will put a story together with what is at hand and print it regardless of accuracy or completeness. They'll print a retraction if they have to, but we all know that most retractions get buried somewhere in the back sections. Another lesson learned in hindsight is that you never want to get into a war of words with someone that buys ink by the gallon.

From my perspective if the information is not out there in an easy to find and understand format, then it's up to us to make it available and pursue the media to get it and use it. It seems like the IMA can be a very powerful force to that end, and we would do well to bring in some folks with a talent for chatting the media up with lots of great and accurate information.

Cheers,

Oskaar

Vicky Rowe
11-18-2004, 07:51 PM
Hence the formation of the IMA. One of my goals for the site is to provide a comprehensive press package that will give any press interested a concise, easy-to-understand overview of our industry, the drink itself, and other information to help them be accurate.

Of course, this pre-supposes that the reporter in question gives a care about accuracy.......

Vicky