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Thread: Teaching a Mead Class

  1. #1
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    Default Teaching a Mead Class

    Well I went and agreeded to teach a basic mead making class at the Volusia County Bee Keeping Association here in Florida. It is a new club, just one year old this month and has a lot of interest in bee keeping, mead making and everything to do with bees. Out of about 80 members only half have bees and most are new be bee keepers. I'm going over the history of mead, basic brewing technique, equipment needed, supplies needed and different reference materials. Of couse I'm ending the class with a sampling of different types I've brewed. It looks like it will be fun but I could use advice and help on my agenda and points that are needed to be made. I don't want to get too technical. I'm also recomending Got-Mead.com as the best online source for mead information. Thanks for the help with this

  2. #2
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    Sounds like fun!

    I'd say following the general outline of the NewBee guide from the main site would be a pretty good way of going about teaching the mechanics of meadmaking. Not very personalized but it's a good guide and already put together, might as well steal it (with a reference of course ). It would also be cool to put together a batch of JAO (or other quick mead) during the class, cooking-show style (have the orange pre-cut, etc). Showing is always better than telling.
    Want to see something added to the GotMead Glossary? PM me! Didn't know we had a glossary? Check the top row of links.

  3. #3

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    A lot more people are familiar with beer brewing than mead, so it may help to compare and contrast the two to some extent. The biggest differences are boiling and aeration; don't boil your mead, but aerate until the 1/3 break. I don't know if you want to go into that level of detail though for a short class teaching; perhaps tell them to aerate once daily for a couple of days.

    I'm guessing the hydrometer will be the scariest thing you need to explain to the newbees; bring one, and measure water and a honey/water mixture in front of them to take away the scare factor. Stress the point that without an initial hydrometer reading, they'll never know the final abv of the finished product.

    If you're recommending glass, please also recommend due caution in handling! You saw my finger

    The fruit in a melomel will cover up many sins committed whilst brewing/fermenting. It may be a good idea to recommend they start with one of those. It'll probably be a big help to tell them what yeast to use initially as well; too many choices until you know what'll happen with a particular strain.

    I'm sure there's more!
    "I've never forgotten anything that I can remember."

  4. #4
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    How long is this class supposed to be?

  5. #5

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    good idea, i wish i had one of those classes around when i first started getting into brewing.

  6. #6
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    I think that I will get about 45 minutes out of which I'll have a question/answer period and a tasting of the meads. The regular meeting lasts 1 1/2 hours with club stuff taking up about half of the time. I have two different types of hydrometers to show and tell with. One is the big Fisher Scientific and the second is a smaller one made by HACH. I also printed up a specific gravity/alcohol chart from the internet which I'll be using as a handout. All I'm planning to do is bring in some of my equipment like a primary bucket, a glass carboy, my hand corker with corks and some other basics and go over how each item is used during the brewing. I already have The Complete MeadMaker and Making Wild Wines and Meads so I'm not walking into this totally blind.
    I like the idea of comparing mead making to beer brewing, gotta research it this weekend. I am planning to compare mead making to wine making since the procedure is so simular. I can't get too technical, this is just a introduction and a general overview.

  7. #7
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    Sounds like it could be a fun learning experience for everyone involved...
    Bees stole my signature file!

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    Now that's a class I'd like to teach.

    I second Aaron's suggestion of putting together a gallon o' JAO--you could even offer it as a raffle prize at the end of the class, with instructions on what to do with it: Put the jug in a cool dark place for 3 months, after which you can pour the mead off the fruit and drink it.

  9. #9

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    I would recomend bringing in a dry, semi-sweet, and a sweet mead and have a tasting with those as well so people can get a feel for what they like and how sweet they would like to make their mead . I mean I dont know how in depth you wanna go with it though, I just think that would be a good addition to the presentation.

  10. #10
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    If you want to include a compare-contrast for people familiar with beer brewing without losing the people who've never fermented more than the odd jug of forgotten apple juice, I would suggest that you sum up each section (however you divide it up) with one or two lines that link it to beermaking, not much more than that, and be as concise and technical as you want since you're NOT explaining that part to newbees.

    Intro: "For those of you used to making beer, in wine and meadmaking it's called must."

    Hydrometer: "Anyone who brews beer should already be familiar with the use of a hydrometer, you just need one with a higher range if yours only goes up to <approppriate upper SG for beer wort>."

    Aeration: "And for those of you who make beer, the main difference is that you actively aerate until 1/3 of the available sugar is used up."

    Recipe planning: "And for those of you who brew, meads are a little simpler, you don't have to worry about efficiency, you can assume all your sugars will be fermented."

    Bottling: "And for the brewers out there, bottling is similar - sanitize, fill and seal, capper or corker works on the same principle."

    (some of this may be BS on my part since I DON'T brew, yet, but you get the idea)

    Oh, and "quick and dirty notes" for them to take home might be nice too, not everyone learns through listening, stuff like simplified order of operations, stress importance of sanitation, a couple basic honey amounts (2-3-1/2 lb in 1/2 lb increments?), approximate starting SG and approximate ABV if they ferment out... and of course, shameless plugging for gotmead.com!
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014
    "Sure it can be done. I've never heard of it, but I do things I've never heard if all the time. That is the beauty of being a brewer!" - Loveofrose, 2014
    "I tend to....um, er, experiment, and go outside the box. Sometimes outside the whole department store." - Ebonhawk, 2014

  11. #11
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    45 minutes will not give you time for everything you want to do.

    Question and answer could take 15 minutes. Tasting could take 15 minutes because there will be comments you should field. Making JAO from pre-prepared components could take 10 minutes.

    Given the short amount of time, I would suggest the following:

    1. Handouts that provide a level of detail beyond what will be covered in the class and references/links for follow-up.

    2. Agenda
    a) Basic explanation of fermentation - yeast ferment sugars/honey and give off CO2 and alcohol
    b) Simple discussion of yeasts and differences - beer, wine, champaigne
    c) Simple recipe - Use JAO, have fine mead recipe as well, discuss quick mead versus fine mead recipe differences, what would change in JAO if you were shooting for a fine mead?
    d) Very basic sanitation - use your JAO components as examples, it should not scare them
    e) Mixing your must - use JAO assembly process, discuss briefly use of heat and chemicals to pasteurize, mention JAO does neither, introduce SG here and how you measure it, discuss sweet, semi-sweet, and dry, amount of honey/SG used for each
    f) Traps - use JAO set-up for example, briefly discuss oxidation
    g) Ageing - Quick discussion on quick meads versus fine meads, bulk vs. bottled.
    h) Racking - How it is done, when it is done, potential pitfalls, what lees is
    i) Bottling - Corks, corkers, screwtops

    If you only spend 2 or 3 minutes on each topic, you have about 30 minutes. This is why a handout is important.

    Combine the tasting with the question and answer for the last 15 minutes. Introduce the samples then have someone else pass them out while you field questions.

    Good luck and have fun!
    Last edited by Pewter_of_Deodar; 02-11-2011 at 11:04 AM. Reason: typos

  12. #12
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    That's a good layout, thanks. I'll try to get a little more time for the presentation and just hit the high points. It will probably run over depending on how many questions get asked.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by beeboy View Post
    That's a good layout, thanks. I'll try to get a little more time for the presentation and just hit the high points. It will probably run over depending on how many questions get asked.
    Congrats on the speaking engagement, beeboy! When's the big day?

  14. #14
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    I'd recommend keeping it simple and very basic.



    • Talk about what mead is and different types of mead
    • Briefly explain the JAO you're making
    • Get right to the making and involve people in the audience
    • Once the mead is made, review the steps you took
    • Explain the recipes you hand out, how and why they differ
    • Answer some questions, talk about equipment, sanitation and batch management
    • Sample some mead and talk about different honey and styles
    • Save big topics (yeast, fermentation, processes) for the handouts
    • Don't be afraid to ask people questions if participation is low
    • Keep it light and fun
    • Practice in front of a mirror

    Best of luck and congratulations!

    Cheers,

    Oskaar
    Is it tasty . . . precious?

  15. #15
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    I don't think I'll have time to mix up a batch of JAO during the presentation, it would be too involved to do it right. I'm bring three or four flavors for tasting and describe the differences in the brewing methods for them. I'm trying to figure out how much mead to bring, don't want it to turn into a drunken party but want everybody to have fun. I have the strangest feeling that if I bring it, it will be consumed. Just bottled up 20 .75's of Elderberry Mead, I'll bring 6-8 of them. Also have a nice sparkeling show mead which should be a hit along with the Jalepeno from two months ago. Going to raid my closet and see what else is advailable. Too bad I'm almost out of the lemon, banana, vanilla from '06, boy that was a good batch, almost stellar. I'll let everybody know how it worked out.

  16. #16
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    Wink

    Just got back from the class, it was great!!!. I ended up starting with equipment needed to brew with and the worked into the actual brewing process including different types of mead and yeasts. The sugar to alcohol chart was a hit which lead into fruit meads and the effects of different fruits on the specific gravity. I broke the class up into two sections with a question/answer break between the two. I kept it basic and just hit the high points of mead brewiing. Couldn't do a tasting, drinking alcohol on state property is a no-no. Thanks for the help in getting it together. i plugged Got-Mead.com as the best online source for everything Mead..

  17. #17
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    Awesome! Glad to hear it went well!
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014
    "Sure it can be done. I've never heard of it, but I do things I've never heard if all the time. That is the beauty of being a brewer!" - Loveofrose, 2014
    "I tend to....um, er, experiment, and go outside the box. Sometimes outside the whole department store." - Ebonhawk, 2014

  18. #18

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    glad it went well !

  19. #19
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    Glad it went well!

  20. #20
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    That's great. Glad it went well for you.
    “Give a man a beer, waste an hour. Teach a man to brew, and waste a lifetime!”

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