View Full Version : Minors & Mead ?

11-30-2004, 09:49 AM
Hi everyone,

I would like to hear a few of your opinions on the topic of controlled underage drinking with parental guidance, and your thoughts about minors making alcoholic beverages.

11-30-2004, 12:09 PM
I've been drinking wine since before I went to school. My Father and Uncles made wine when I was growing up, and the kids were always included in the process. We would have purple feet for a while after the crush and I even remember being in the barrel when the priest from the local church came down to bless the grapes and the whole winemaking process. It was a lot of fun, and a great way to remember my uncles (they were my Grandfather's brothers and brothers-in-law but we always called them Uncle) and cousins.

But I digress. We didn't casually drink wine, rather it was given to us at lunch and dinner in a glass mixed in a 1:3 wine:water ratio. I remember at school once the girl who sat in front of me raised her hand and said I don't want to sit in front of Pete (Oskaar) anymore, he always smells like wine after lunch! ;D

So to me, wine is associated with food, camaraderie, family gatherings and generally being social. It translated into a lack of fascination with experimental drinking during high school. I feel like I had more information and experience to work with than the other kids, and did not bear an unhealthy fixation with drinking in what I considered to be an inappropriate manner. We lost a star football player while I was in high school to drunk driving. He, his girlfriend and another couple had been drinking beer and went head on with another vehicle and ruined several people’s lives, including their own. The consequences were painfully clear.

My parents did not allow my friends to drink at our house and were clear that though they did allow me to drink wine, it would be “discourteous” to allow me to drink it in front of my friends when they couldn’t. Then of course, my Dad would pull out a bottle of the best stuff we had, and pour himself a big glass smiling the whole time.

So, in my view education, supervision, and careful consideration are the watchwords, along with a lot of parental control and environment management.



David Baldwin
11-30-2004, 06:45 PM
So, in my view education, supervision, and careful consideration are the watchwords, along with a lot of parental control and environment management.



I would heartily concur with Oscaar. I was raised in a very different environment by parents who remembered prohibition and still believe that it was a good thing.

We never had alcohol in the home (well, my dad kept a bottle of blackberry brandy for medicinal uses, but we weren't supposed to know about that...) So I grew up with all the curiosity and mystery of this forbidden fruit. I was a good kid and never got into trouble with it, but believe me, good kids have access to alcohol too.

My religious background told me that drinking was evil, alcohol was in and of itself evil, and anyone who drank it was in real danger of spending eternity in Hell. Ok, I was a curious teen, and an avid reader, so it didn't take long for me to read for myself that that's not what the Bible really has to say about it.

My total underage consumption would easily have fit in a six pack.

My wife grew up around it as a rare but acceptable item in their home. It was more often used for cooking and occasionally her parents would have a glass of wine with a meal. She had a bit of wine on occasion to calm her asthma. It wasn't until we were married that she had alcohol as a beverage. (She was just over 21 when we married).

I plan to demystify, educate and "innoculate" (controled exposure) my own children. They know that alcohol is an adult beverage, and that it can be very harmful if you drink too much. As they become teens and young adults, it will be our practice for them to learn to enjoy it in moderation as we ourselves now model moderate consumption.

They will know what alcohol is, how it is used responsibly, and how it can be misused. I have a cousin who was raped because she was given alcohol in a drink - never having had it before she didn't recognize it for what it was.

My children will know and recognize the effects of alcohol. As to our kids friends, I'll leave the controlled exposure to their parents. The education I'll give to any and all without hesitation.

As to helping me with meadmaking, you couldn't drag them away. They love to be around to "help" and watch. At the ages of 5 and 7 they are very curious, and they learn so much so very quickly. They are getting bits of biology, chemistry, and math in the process.

It's not just my hobby now. We are all enjoying it in some fashion.

11-30-2004, 07:00 PM
In a similar vein....

One of my grandfathers was a raging alcoholic, the other had several close relatives who were alcoholic. So alcohol in general is a rather taboo subject for one whole side of my family, and the other is convinced that if you have a beer every day you are on your way down the slippery slope.

I'm breaking this tradition, and opening the eyes of some of my relatives. Beer, wine, mead, cider, etc can all be enjoyed without being abused. They are catching on, and I think I'm going to be really risque and bring some wine to Christmas dinner. ;D

As for my kids - well, my two year old already insists on trying whatever I am drinking. I usually let him taste just a teeny bit of it. I tried giving him warm brandy and tequila hoping that it would burn his mouth and he'd leave it alone, but that didn't work. Now I just put a couple drops in and dilute it about 5 times. I figure if it's below the 0.5% ABV limit, I can't be prosecuted, right? :)

As he gets older, I have every intention of treating alcohol as Oskaar's parents did. Yes they can have some, diluted. And as teenagers, they can have a small amount of wine with dinner, if they'd like. The fear I have is that I live in a fundamentalist Christian area, one where I don't know how people are going to react to this sort of thing. Not that I care, other than that I don't want the cops showing up on my doorstep because I gave my kid some wine. I hope to get across to my kids that they need to keep quiet about it, but then, that is usually a great way to make them talk. So maybe I just won't say anything.

As for brewing, my kid is still too young to really help, though he is very interested. I have every intention of including him in the process. We will be homeschooling, and I find things like brewing to be very educational. As David said, chemistry, biology, mathematics, culinary arts, etc all rolled into one. Definitely something to be encouraged.

And as I heard on another board - you know you are both a successful brewer and parent when your 5 year old comments on the excellent head retention of his homemade root beer. ;D

11-30-2004, 08:55 PM
Hi everyone,

I would like to hear a few of your opinions on the topic of controlled underage drinking with parental guidance, and your thoughts about minors making alcoholic beverages.

Mead is wine, and minors drink wine with dinner in other countries all the time.

Mead is also alcohol, and yes, anything abused can be
dangerous. Kids are going to find alcohol and drink it
one way or another. They might as well learn to do it
responsibly, in a safe environment (home), in moderation,
and with someone around (a parent) who can respond appropriately to any problem that arise.

I frequently allow my stepdaughter to
assist me in homebrewing, but as she is not truly
"mine", she's not allowed to taste it.
She enjoys the family time.
She enjoys making a mess of the kitchen.
It helps instill the exploratory DIYness that our culture is
slowly losing.
It gets her away from the damned television.

Were it my call, I'd let her have a small glass with dinner,
stressing the magic of the yeast, the science, the
history, the culture, and the wonderful taste. It's a small
bit of what nature has to offer, and we need to keep in
touch with that.

11-30-2004, 09:01 PM
My background is very similar to Oskaar in that I was allowed to drink at my own home as a child, but only on special occasions. However, the main difference between my experience and Oskaar's is that my didn't make their own alcohol, so I'm learning everything completely new from that standpoint.

Dan McFeeley
12-01-2004, 12:07 AM
Very interesting thread! I really enjoyed Oskaar's post and the presentation of a healthy wine culture.

This has positive benefits -- the research I've seen strongly indicates that a healthy wine culture, like the kinds found in Mediterrean based cultures where wine is a part of the table and family life, are associated with lower rates of alcoholism and alcohol abuse. Other cultures show similar effects -- Judaism, where wine plays a strong sacramental role, also shows low rates of alcoholism/alcohol abuse.

In short, treat wine and other alcoholic beverages with respect, make it a part of joy and celebration, link it to a strong ethnic/cultural tradition, and there will be less of a tendency to abuse it.

Myself, well, I'll just say that the Irish form of schizophrenia runs quite strongly in my family. I didn't know about healthy lifestyles and cultures until much much later, after leaving my home state and putting down my own roots.

Funny thing about the genes -- as much as I like a good mead, I also enjoy a good Guinness. ;D

12-01-2004, 09:10 AM
It is so great to hear all of your views and opinions on this subject, and even better, I now can comfortably reveal my age of 15, I have left my age undisclosed until now becuase I did not know how people would react, and did not want to be either reported or banned from the site.

My story or should I say life, is somewhat similiar to most of yours,

I am the first generation in the family to make my own alchohol, am growing up in a wonderfull household, and my parents are supporitve of almost every and anything I do.
I am currently working on becoming a pilot, love aviation and hope to make a career of it someday.

I have always been fascinated by Medieval, and Roman History. Ever since I remember being able to read , I have been reading about history, Collecting Roman arms and armor, miniatures, and learning the Latin language. The Vikings and Norse history are another fascination of mine and are the start of my desire to make mead.

Unlike most 15 year old boys, who at this point in thier lives are experimenting with drugs, the abuse of alchohol, and rebelious adult pleasures, I do not fit in at the parties and feel uncomfortable in the crowd. I would rather be learning to fly, be hunting, be fishing, making mead, and learing more about historical cultures, rather than getting high, drunk and having premarital sex. I am quite independant but not anti social, I have a group of friends to hang out with on the weekends, and enjoy good company.

My parents have let me drink since I was quite young. It started as sips and a small glass of wine now and then , but has progressed to about a full glass once or twice a week with my family at a sit down dinners. I also, along with my parents drink on the holidays, I belive this has helped raise me to respect alcohol not only for its intoxicating effects, but more rather because of its symbol as a drink of the mature and responsible.

Yet as most, I cannot attest to being perfectly innocent, I have been drunk before, and although it was fun, it was not worth the headache the following day nor the restrictions heavily enforced by my parents!

My parents are very supportive in my decicion to make mead and trust that I will drink it with them, in the same manner I drink wine.
I hope you all feel the same way and accept me into the meadmaking community despite my age.

Thank you for your replies and understanding.

David Baldwin
12-01-2004, 03:32 PM
Well, I'd say that you have a better grip on life than many adults.

Your interests closely mirrored mine at your age, and that really hasn't changed all that much over time.

At the age of 15 my parents did let me experiment a bit with home brewing. They used to make their own root beer - VERY low alcohol, just enough fermentation to make it carbonated. I couldn't get the root beer kits anymore, so I made up a batch of birch beer from scratch. It was fun, but I was only allowed to do that to my mom's kitchen once... :o

Since I couldn't persue brewing as a hobby, I took up mechanics and VW Bug's instead. Those skills have kept me fed, clothed and sheltered throughout most of my life. To that I must credit my oldest brother who was an excellent mentor, and was very supportive as I was learning. I still have many of the original set of tools that he gave me to get me started.

Keep focused on what is good in life and enjoy it fully. As an intelligent and articulate young man I'll bet that you do well in life.

I'm looking forward to hearing about your progress as you learn the hobby.


12-01-2004, 06:24 PM

It is a shame that laws that apply to everyone equally are designed to protect the most stupid segment of society from themselves. There are people who are exceptions, and you sound like one of them.

If I may ask - what is your educational background? Those kinds of interests and that kind of maturity at your age smacks of homeschooling, or at least small private schooling to me. If you have emerged from the standard public school system in your current state, I congratulate you on your resilience. ;D

12-01-2004, 06:29 PM
I too made alcohol at a young age. Starting at 15 and to this very day still make my own liquor from loquats (Japanese plums to most). It tastes very much like amoretto when it's done. It is only recently that I started fermenting it in the form of mead.

So, keep being responsible and inteligent about alcohol consumption.

12-02-2004, 07:05 PM
Thanks so much for your support everyone!
Its great to know I have everyones undertanding.

Thanks agian.

12-02-2004, 07:15 PM
Regarding your question on my educational background, I have have been attending public schools since the second grade.

12-03-2004, 05:48 AM

Can I adopt ya?? ;)

:-* Suzy Q, Brewmistress

12-03-2004, 11:44 AM
Hahaha.....Suzy Q,
I can admit it myself, Im still a teenager. ;D

And at certain times, my parents probably consider putting me up for adoption. ;)

Vicky Rowe
12-04-2004, 12:49 AM
Hi Skinner,

I'm glad to see you're taking such a level-headed approach to live at such a young age (don't take offense, I'm 42! 15 was a long time ago for me).

My daughter is 12, and has been helping me with my mead since she was 6. She has tasted my meads, but doesn't really like the taste of honey or alcohol, so she doesn't drink, but I have much the same view as many in this thread, that young people won't abuse alcohol so much if the 'mystique' is taken out of it. Forbidden fruits are always more tempting.

My parents would let me have the occasional glass of wine or part of a beer growing up, and while I did go a little wild in college (too much frat parties!), I never really got heavily into alcohol. I don't even drink that much of my own stuff, so much of it ends up being given away!

Welcome to the group, and I hope you're able to find new and interesting info here. If you have any suggestions of info you'd like to see, just let me know!

Vicky - the webmistress, currently in the middle of totally re-vamping the look and feel to be much more intuitive on Gotmead

12-04-2004, 01:16 AM
I think that taking the "mystery" out of the traditional "forbidden fruit" is key to giving children the tools and information they need to make safety conscious and informed decisions as they get older and temptation lurks around every corner!

Vicky, the little changes you're making around the site are looking better and better. Keep up the great work! I really like the addition of the travel map, good stuff!



12-04-2004, 04:50 AM
Thanks agian Vicky, and thanks to everyone for your kind comments, support and understanding!
I feel very warmly welcomed . :)

Dan McFeeley
12-04-2004, 12:01 PM
I think that taking the "mystery" out of the traditional "forbidden fruit" is key to giving children the tools and information they need to make safety conscious and informed decisions as they get older and temptation lurks around every corner!

This is really great -- I can't emphasize the insight enough . . .

All of the reseach in the area of alcohol abuse and cultural aspects I've seen backs this up. Make alcoholic beverages a part of both family and cultural tradition, treat these beverages with respect, tie that respect into a long standing cultural tradition which is important to one's personal sense of identity, and general rates of abuse of alcohol go down. If the feel is "celebration," not "let's get blasted!" then the image you've taught to your children is healthy.

Take a look at Robert Mondavi's biography "Harvests of Joy" and you'll see this.

12-07-2004, 12:15 AM
Here's a photo from the early 1900's of our family with some of their homebrew and wine. Notice the kids in the picture are all "armed and dangerous" too.



12-07-2004, 12:31 AM
Awesome! Party like its 1899!

12-07-2004, 05:00 AM
Outstanding picture Oskaar!
Nice-looking, happy family. Wish I had one of those bottles...

12-07-2004, 06:19 PM
Hey Oskaar,

Are you the tiny one that looks like they're picking their nose? *grins wickedly*

Dan McFeeley
12-07-2004, 10:31 PM
Hey Oskaar,

Are you the tiny one that looks like they're picking their nose? *grins wickedly*

This was early 1900's. I don't think Oskaar was even a gleam in that kid's eye at that time. ;D

Nice picture, and I noted that the bottles were labled. For no real reason, I'd always had this picture of early home made wine in unlabeled bottles, maybe a sticker showing the year or type of grape. Obviously, I had the wrong idea altogether.

I can't make out the design, but it looks like the winemaker/s got creative with the labels.

12-08-2004, 12:05 AM
We had a printer in the family so it's just basically really bad English on the labels, no one knows what it says to this day. I saw one that said "Cold Beer from our family" "Drink and be happy" I think the top label just had the year on it if I remember right.

No, I wasn't alive at that time but we still have three from the photo who are still alive. Good genes in this family.