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  1. #1
    Devin Petry-Johnson Gotmead Visitor

    Default My experience as a steward

    I recently took Squatchy's advice and volunteered as a steward for a local homebrew competition. I remembered from one of the podcasts that Squatchy learned a lot from stewarding, talking to judges, and tasting some of the leftovers. I'm happy to report that I learned a lot from the experience!

    I was lucky enough to steward for the melomels, methaglins, and experimental "weirdomels". I also stewarded for a beer table later in the day but most of my post here will be centered on mead.

    A friend of mine told me about this competition just a couple of days before the deadline, and after much consideration I decided not to enter anything. I'm still new and I'm still tinkering with mead and balance, so I thought nothing would be ready. Now I realize that I should have taken the opportunity to enter at least one thing. It would have been nice to get the feedback. Even knowing that the mead is not perfect, being able to compare my own tasting notes to their notes would have been helpful.

    I gained a lot of appreciation for what the judges do. They fill out detailed cards about each sample. I forget the 5 categories but they included color, aroma, taste, and I think overall presentation. And they don't just give scores, they explain what they liked and didn't like. And they take it very seriously! And they even have their email address on the form in case you want to contact them. I was impressed. I will mention that at least one of the 6 judges at my tables seemed to not be very knowledgeable about mead. I can't say for sure but I think he was mainly a certified beer judge. But he did a very good job. The other 5 judges were all experienced and knowledgeable. Overall I was very impressed.

    I worked with another steward to work for 6 judges across 2 tables and taste 22 entries. I had never done this before, so I was a little overwhelmed. If I had advice for someone, I would say start at 1 table with 2-3 judges if you can. Don't try to split 3 tables with another guy who is also clueless. We made some mistakes but nothing that wasn't caught by the judges. My afternoon session went much better. I was alone for 2 tables and 4 judges (so more work overall than the morning session) but it helped to know what I was doing and not have to try to figure out someone else's process.

    I learned a lot from speaking with the judges and trying some of the entries. It's been difficult before now because I've had some commercial mead but nothing beats getting to try a dozen different meads back-to-back-to-back, rapid fire. Another thing I learned: if you put an ingredient on the list, the judges should be able to taste it.

    During the competition they were setting aside good entries for the Best of Show. I was able to sample any of the other entries, and I realized the my mead would have definitely beat some of them, maybe even a lot of them. There must be a lot of people out there that are not listening to Got Mead Live. I always assumed that if someone entered a mead into a competition, it would have to be GOOD. But that is not the case. There are some bad ones out there.

    After the judges finished the Best of Show, I was able to sample the winners. This was my favorite part of the whole day. The Key Lime Pie mead (3rd place) was amazing. And of course I liked the first two as well. Really all 7 that advanced to BoS were really good!

    Overall it was a great experience and I would recommend it to anyone who is serious about making a good quality mead. If I'm not a certified mead judge by next year, I'll be stewarding again and entering!

  2. #2


    It's nice of you to post your experience. I'm glad you did this period when you get ready to wanna start getting serious about taking the test if you want to contact me I can give you a few ideas at all make it a little bit easier for you to prepare. And if you would like. You could contact me in if you wanted send me a couple samples of your stuff I would be happy to give you the same type of score sheet that we use in the competition's
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  3. #3
    Devin Petry-Johnson Gotmead Visitor


    Thanks for the offer. My friends have all said they like the mead but of course you never know if it's honest feedback or not. And they are not trained to pinpoint the flaw and provide feedback. I'll let you know if I plan to send some out your way.

  4. #4
    Devin Petry-Johnson Gotmead Visitor


    I totally forgot that I had snapped this picture from the event. After each entry was judged, it was either set aside to judge again later in the Best of Show (if it was good) or the remainder of the bottle was taken over to these tables for anyone to sample. We were supposed to write down the final score so people could know how it scored with the judges, but I really didn't have time to do that for the mead. But it was cool to stand there and drink and drink and drink. I didn't sample as much as I wanted to, because I had to stay for another judging session and I was starting to get buzzed. And I didn't bother with the beer when there was that much free mead available!

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