Mead Part 4 – Exam Prep and the Scoresheet


Discuss the key components of the evaluating mead and how it should be applied using the scoresheet. Focus on what is needed to be known for the Mead Entrance Exam and Mead Judging Exam. Focus should be on perceptions, their levels, descriptions, feedback, completeness, and proper communication. Build upon the material from the previous courses using some of the more advanced topics. This should be the course that brings it all together. Sample and discuss different types of specialty meads and varieties of honey. 

Reference Material

Key Points / Discussion

The following are a list of key points and discussion items that should be covered during the course. Encourage discussion among the attendees and if possible send out the reading list ahead of time so that the attendees can review the material in advance. 

Evaluating Mead

The structured method of evaluating mead closely follows the sequence used when filling out a scoresheet. Aroma, appearance, flavor, mouthfeel and overall impression are considered. The evaluation process focuses on capturing accurate sensory perceptions, and then comparing them against style guidelines.

Assessing Mead Aromatics

  • Assess the honey character.
  • Assess the fermentation character.
  • Alcohol level should match the style of mead.
  • Special ingredients (fruit, spice, malt, etc.).
  • Acidity can often be sensed in the aroma.
  • Was there any special processing (e.g., oak aging).
  • Consider the overall balance, harmony and pleasantness of the mead.

Assessing Mead Appearance

  • To describe the color of a mead, start with the hue (also known as shade).
  • Saturation or intensity is the depth of the color of a mead.
  • The purity of a mead is described as the correct or appropriate color for its age.
  • Reflectance describes the mirror-like surface of the mead.
  • Clarity describes the ability to transmit, absorb, or reflect light.
  • Assessing legs gives an indication as to the body, alcohol level and sweetness of a mead.
  • Characterize the carbonation (still, petillant, sparkling).

Assessing Mead Flavor

  • Characterize the honey flavors and sweetness.
  • Structural elements of acidity and tannin.
  • Alcohol flavors and bitterness.
  • Special ingredients and processes can add another whole realm of flavors.
  • Aftertaste of the mead.
  • Overall balance of the mead should be described.

Assessing Mead Mouthfeel

Mouthfeel describes the non-flavor sensations in your mouth when you taste something. It includes the tactile sensations, the textures, and the feelings associated with drinking.

  • Body is a measure of the relative viscosity of mead (weight of the mead on your tongue).
  • Carbonation describes the level of dissolved carbon dioxide in solution, and ranges from still (lightly carbonated) to petillant.
  • Alcohol in mead can be unnoticeable, or provide a pleasantly warming sensation to a hot burn.
  • Acidity in a mead might be noted, particularly if it becomes sharp, puckering or tingly.
  • Tannins, astringency, dryness and puckering.

Basic Mechanics of Mead Judging

Before the meads are brought to the judging table, look over the information provided by the competition organizer. This should include a set of style guidelines explaining the standards against which the meads are to be judged. Make yourself familiar with the specific styles in your flight, and discuss the characteristics you will be looking for with the other judges at the table.

  • Start with meads that are drier and lower in alcohol than ones that are sweeter and stronger.
  • Consider serving temperature.
  • Pace yourself and remember to drink water between meads to clear your palate and to stay hydrated.