Mead has been around for many millenia, but doesn’t have the same background of knowledge available to it that beer and wine do. Having gone out of favor sometime between the Middle Ages and end of the Renaissance, mead hasn’t seen the same interest throughout the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries as other fermented and distilled beverages. The following are some of the best mead making resources for the beginner and initiated alike. These don’t cover everything available on the topic, but will at least point you in the right direction.
Considered by many to be the premier resource for beginning meadmakers, this website has most everything you need answered either in their NewBee Guide or buried in their forum. I can’t stress enough that if you are interested in making mead, the patron membership is well worth the $25 expense. The members are friendly, and possess vast amounts of knowledge that hasn’t made it to the written press. Even in just the last 10 years, mead has seen many changes in its production processes, and this location is your best bet to uncover the latest methods. They even have a thread going on how to create drinkable mead in a month. Now that’s impressive! (See Bray’s One Month Mead, or BOMM).
The Compeat Meadmaker is far and away the best published resource for meadmaking. Targeted to the beginning homebrewer, this book explains many of meadmaking concepts and takes you through your first mead batch (if you don’t follow the JAO path outlined through Gotmead and many other homebrew sites). It includes chapters on yeast and fermentation, honey varietals, and the various ingredients available to the meadmaker. The book also provides a good beginning resource for mead recipes to try.
BJCP Mead Study Guide
I recently stumbled upon this, and was amazed at the amount of information contained within, all for free. The Beer Judge Certification Program has added a mead judge certification to their offerings, and contained within the study guide are copious amounts of information honey varietals, mead types, and the various flavors associated with these. Much of the guide references the certification program itself, so if you aren’t into that, feel free to ignore those parts. The rest has very valuable information to those looking to better understand the comments on a judge’s scoring card, or the terms used in the wine-tasting world.
Scott Laboratories 2013 Fermentation Handbook
Focused on the yeast and fermentation offerings from Scott Labs, this Handbook nonetheless provides valuable information to both the home meadmaker and professional alike. Topics include the different yeast strains available through Scott Labs, the best nutrient combinations for these, additional flavor components (specifically tannins), and a host of other fermentation topics. Those only interested in making something family and friends can drink without getting into the nitty gritty details can likely avoid this reference, but valuable information awaits those wanting to step up their game.
Started in 2011, the AMMA has four overarching objectives: to improve regulation that promotes the mead industry, to educate consumers about mead, to conduct research to improve the craft, and to promote mead in general. Now that may seem overly focused on the professional aspects of meadmaking, and admittedly it is, but the AMMA also provides information of interest in their quarterly newsletter. And if you want to see more mead on the shelves at your local liquor store, maybe consider becoming a member.
So, that’s five great places to start learning about mead. More and more are popping up, with rumors of new meadmaking books in the works. The UC Davis Mead Short Course will also have a recording of its first ever mead class from this past weekend available soon. And I’ll continue to post here with cool things going on with Terrapin Bluffs, and the industry in general.
Got any references you hold dear? Post them in the comments section for all of us to learn too!