Being Judgmental, or Why We Don’t Compete

Beer Judge Certification Program

Did you know that you can actually get a certification that says that you are certifiably certified to judge mead? That there are people out there with a list of questions and a stopwatch who will affirm your ability to adequately drink and talk about meads of all ilk? That you could literally be a card carrying Mead Judge?
Well there is, there are, and you can.
Realizing that mead was often a category in homebrew competitions, but there was no standing system by which one could establish the perspicacity of self-proclaimed mead experts, a group of (probably besotted) individuals decided to do something about it.
Starting in 2008, the Beer Judge Certification Program (better known as the BJCP) piloted the first national Mead Judge Certification. The idea was to confirm the quality of the individuals who were tasting mead and giving homebrewers feedback. This is a noble goal indeed.
There are two standing problems, however.
The first, fully acknowledged in the Mead Exam Study guide is that “Unfortunately, there are much fewer (sic) books on mead than on beer, and the books on mead tend to be dated and offer unfortunate advice.” In other words, there isn’t all that much to learn or test for.
The second problem is that almost every mead produced by Groennfell Meadery would do abysmally in a competition judged by the BJCP.
It appears that our fine treatise “Craft Mead: A Possibly Contentious Article” has gone unobserved by the staff of the BJCP, as their brief intro to mead contains numerous statements which appear to confuse “honey wine,” a specific type of honey beverage, and Mead, the larger class which also contains craft mead.
Consider their appearance requirements, “Crystal clear, reflective examples with a bright, distinct meniscus are highly desirable.” Our meads are always unfiltered and intentionally cloudy in many cases.
Or the fact that they confuse body, mouthfeel, and sweetness: “…dry meads can still have some body. Dry meads do not have to be bone dry.”
Or the offensively judgmental and confusing statements: “Well-made examples will often have an elegant wine-like character.”
And, let’s not forget to stand up for our friends at Havoc Mead whose most popular draft mead is Bitter Bee when they say, “IBUs: not relevant for anything but braggot, but bittering hops are optional even in this style.”

So, while we certainly consider the acknowledgment of mead in homebrewing competitions an excellent step forward, we’re afraid that many of the best meads would get poor reviews and bad advice from judges who mistake mead, a very large class, for the smaller subcategory of honey wines.
We are not here to bash the BJCP, we think what they’re doing is awesome! We just want to make sure that our homebrewing meadiacs aren’t having their excellent beverages trodden upon unnecessarily.
What matters is that you enjoy what you’re brewing and, ideally, that your friends enjoy it too.
To learn more about the Mead Judge Certification Program and to see whether it might be something you’re interested in, please visit the BJCP Mead Page by clicking here.

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