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Thread: Entering a Mead competition?

  1. #1

    Default Entering a Mead competition?

    Iím still a new mead maker, so I want to get some input about whether or not I should enter a local mead competition. The local meadery and the local brew store have teamed up and created a competition in a few months. The entry fee is $5 (seems reasonable) and I assume I only need to submit one bottle for judging. The winning entry will be made in the meaderyís 50 gallon fermenter.

    So hereís the start of my questions. The cynical side of me says that they get tons of free mead to judge, they can choose the best one and basically get a free recipe that someone else took the time to develop, and then they can take all the entry fees and put that to making their new mead! Cynical, right?

    So, for those of you that enter and judge competitions, is this normal? Is this meadery getting their fans to do their work for them, and pay for their next mead, or is this how things are done? Is there typically a prize or award money? Is there always an entry fee in addition to the mead submission? Iím still only making mead a gallon at a time so I donít want to give away any precious mead if Iím just being used. Anyway, rant over. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2

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    So you are way off my friend.

    Usually, a mead competition considers themselves lucky if the break even in cost.

    Secondly most entries. Especially in a small competition not really all that great. I judge a few comps a year, and also the biggest in the world each year. You have to kiss a ton of frogs to find a prince. Although the bar keeps climbing higher and higher each year. Usually, you have to send in 3) 12 OZ bottles. And also. You are only asked for your recipe when you win and are asked to colaborate with a professional. And if you don't want to they move onto the next guy. Not being mean here. But I wouldn't expect to win much if any without a good bit or mead making under your belt. So ya. You are way overly sinecal. Also a single gallomn batc isn't really all that much. I toss more than that out of every batch I make. Make more. And it won't seem so precious. And you will be able to actually age it for a while.

    Because it's local. I suggest you volunteer to help. You will learn a ton and make new friends as well.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  3. #3

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    Thanks for the input, Squatchy. Yeah, I don't think I would win. I just started mead and this competition is a couple of months away. So by then I might have something drinkable, but certainly not worthy of winning. So that's even another reason not to enter. Why give away mead at 2 months old when it probably will just barely be drinkable? I'd much rather let it age for at least a few months and drink it myself.

    I guess I was just looking for insight on the whole thing. I didn't realize there were that many expenses in a competition. I like your idea of volunteering to help. I hadn't thought of that and that would be really cool. The meadery is hosting an "announcement party" to announce the winner so at the very least I plan to be there to chat it up with some fellow mead makers.

    As far as your suggestion to make more, I think my wife can only stand so much more... I just racked my first gallon and I've been back to the homebrew store every weekend for the last 5 weeks to get more supplies. And stuff has been arriving from Amazon every week. Mead is taking over!

  4. #4
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    So here's the other thing Devin - for many home "brewers" (more brewers than mead makers , in my opinion) the idea that a commercial brewery (or meadery) would use their professional staff and their equipment to make a beer (or in this case, a mead) to their recipe gives them incredible bragging rights. Incredible bragging rights... Given the law and the restrictions that surround a home meadmaker's ability to sell their mead (zero) and given the meadery's agreement to sell this mead while the mead maker will not make a penny from this arrangement he or she can presumably dine on this prize for who knows how long.. So in my view this is a win win for everyone concerned.

    But as to entering competitions - here's the rub. If you KNOW that your mead is wonderful and you are simply looking for the opinions of qualified judges to concur because you want the bragging rights because of the medals you win, OK but after a few years I am not sure that you need anyone else's opinion to tell you how spectacular your mead is..
    If you are not sure how good your mead is - and those you share it with are either too polite or are unwilling or are unable to provide you with good assessment then entering into competitions makes great sense - NOT because of the possibility of winning a medal but because of the written feedback you get from the judges. BUT not all judges provide good feedback; not every judge discusses your entry -they sometimes discuss their preferences and what they don't like - so you know more about the judge than you do about your entry.
    Lastly, if you have no good sense of what your own practices are or what your meads are all about then simply sending them off for competition would seem to me to be less than useful. Getting even the best feedback may not make any good sense to you a) because you may want to disagree with the judges and b) you may not really understand what they are saying.
    Actually, there is a fourth category, IMO, and that is you KNOW the meads you make are what YOU like AND you know what you like is not likely to be judged well in competition - NOT because your mead is full of flaws but because what wins is not what you want to make.
    Bottom line - IMO - competitions are all about feedback -not about prizes. If the judges are not known for the quality of their feedback then winning is not everything. It ain't anything...

  5. #5

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    A quick note: I had to laugh on my drive home from work today. I loaded up the Got Mead podcast (as I do every day since Ryan told me about it) and I got to the part from the most recent episode in which Ryan discusses competitions. His insights (and I think Vicky was the other one discussing it) were great, and they related exactly to what I asked in this thread. So much good info. BTW, I finished Ryan’s MMM shows and now I’m bouncing around the others. I’ll get to them all eventually, promise.

    I think the bragging rights would be awesome, for sure. My friends would get sick of hearing about it!! But still there would be so many great award winners over the country and the world, so it’s a relative small achievement in the big scope, but still really cool.

    I guess I’m getting into mead because I love alcohol, and I love the idea of making the drink exactly how I want it, whether it’s “good” or “bad”. But there is something to be said for balance as well. I don’t need a judge to tell me if my mead is good. I need to learn how to take what I want from my head and get it to my glass. That’s what I hope to learn here and through practice.

    I think I’ll go chat with the folks in the brew store and see if they need volunteers for anything so I can hang out and learn. And also, no matter what, someone will win, and when they do, it will get made commercially and I can buy a bottle and do my own comparisons with my own mead and probably learn even more.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Devin Petry-Johnson View Post
    Thanks for the input, Squatchy. Yeah, I don't think I would win. I just started mead and this competition is a couple of months away. So by then, I might have something drinkable, but certainly not worthy of winning. So that's even another reason not to enter. Why give away mead at 2 months old when it probably will just barely be drinkable? I'd much rather let it age for at least a few months and drink it myself.

    I guess I was just looking for insight on the whole thing. I didn't realize there were that many expenses in a competition. I like your idea of volunteering to help. I hadn't thought of that and that would be really cool. The meadery is hosting an "announcement party" to announce the winner so at the very least I plan to be there to chat it up with some fellow mead makers.

    As far as your suggestion to make more, I think my wife can only stand so much more... I just racked my first gallon and I've been back to the homebrew store every weekend for the last 5 weeks to get more supplies. And stuff has been arriving from Amazon every week. Mead is taking over!
    I just took 2 first places awards and a second in a big comp last week and my stuff was 3 months old. So it can be done if you have all the fractions working for you correctly.
    Last edited by Squatchy; 02-08-2018 at 10:58 PM.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  7. #7

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    So I guess we all have different o[pinions about competitions. I am a certified mead judge and play in the comps all the time. And win all the time as well. I know my stuff is good and I'm as good or better than most of the judges that will grade my stuff. So it's not about the scores. Perse. I have a lot of friends who compete in the comps and are also certified, judges. For us, it's like playing a friendly, but still competitive game of cards. We play to win and we are competitive. But we are first and foremost friends. So it's a game to some degree. And it's nice to be recognized amongst your peers.

    So you can do the comp thing for different reasons. I am actually tied for second place in the "Mead maker of the Year" Competiton put on by The American Mead Makers Association. I also write articles for the Magazine that gets sent out to members of the AMMA. And coming up in a month. I will be on a panel similar to a board of directors. So all this can be social if you reach into the fold some.

    If all you want is some idea of your skills. I have offered on her for a while that you can send me a sample of your stuff. And I will fill a score sheet out like the ones we use at the comps. This will give you an idea of where you might expect to find yourself score wise for that sample. And I also give my best suggestions for how to make your mead better. And we always do that at the comps. In fact, we are most mindful of giving feedback on how to improve your skills. I also will look over and comment on your protocol as well. Although If you look here a little bit I've made it abundantly clear what I do. Or, if you choose to listen. We have a several week's long series of Podcast where I go over each step in succinct order of how to make modern mead with the most current science.

    Obviously, Bernard doesn't seem to like the competition piece. But some/lots of us do.
    Last edited by Squatchy; 02-08-2018 at 11:00 PM.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  8. #8
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    No . No. no. I have no problem with competitions. My point is that IMO winning ought to be less important than getting feedback but if one is in to win then that is something else. Your point about being in because of the social aspect is something I had not considered... but aside from that competitions are a bit like the Oscars. I guess that there are some film makers and actors and others who make a specific movie to be nominated to win but most film makers make movies because that is what they must do. That is who they are.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by bernardsmith View Post
    No . No. no. I have no problem with competitions. My point is that IMO winning ought to be less important than getting feedback but if one is in to win then that is something else. Your point about being in because of the social aspect is something I had not considered... but aside from that competitions are a bit like the Oscars. I guess that there are some film makers and actors and others who make a specific movie to be nominated to win but most film makers make movies because that is what they must do. That is who they are.
    I see. I misunderstood your words. Sorry friend
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

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    Quote Originally Posted by bernardsmith View Post
    No . No. no. I have no problem with competitions. My point is that IMO winning ought to be less important than getting feedback but if one is in to win then that is something else. Your point about being in because of the social aspect is something I had not considered... but aside from that competitions are a bit like the Oscars. I guess that there are some film makers and actors and others who make a specific movie to be nominated to win but most film makers make movies because that is what they must do. That is who they are.
    IMO most competitions are like this. Your first few you go to to get feedback and see what needs to be done. After that you start competing and measuring yourself against your competition. Then you practice, and then you're really, you go for gold. Nobody just pitches up to win the first time - doesn't happen often, if at all.

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    Truth be told, I think if you are a novice AND you win a medal then that is much like a golfer who hits a hole in one. Says not very much about their game or whether they can play scratch or they have a handicap of 50. - BUT...
    A very hearty congratulations to Squatchy - tying for 2nd in Mead Maker of the Year. It is quite incredible that we all have the opportunity to learn from him simply by logging into this forum. And it is really wonderful that Squatchy is so willing to share his thoughts to those who ask.

  12. #12

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    Thanks, Bernard. Mazer Cup is just around the corner. And I hope to do well there. It's the World Cup, Super Bowl, And Olympics all tied together. I don't usually talk about my awards here on the forum. WHat's the point, right? The ones who care would follow along and seek out the results. And I don't think anyone here is interested in that kind of thing. I mentioned it above only to relay a point. And that is you can make very outstanding meads In short order with today's science and protocols. Thanks for the kind words sir.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

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