Unfortunately, there are much fewer books on mead than on beer, and the books on mead tend to be dated and offer unfortunate advice. Books on winemaking may be of some limited use, although those tend to recommend using more chemicals and additives. Books on beer may dedicate a chapter to mead, but generally don’t get into enough detail to be useful. The one recent book that is of most use to those learning about mead is Ken Schramm’s The Compleat Meadmaker, although even some of its information has been superseded.
It’s ironic that meadmaking is one of the most ancient pursuits of man, yet the knowledge and wisdom involved in the process has not been adequately captured. Lacking a large market demand, research in mead making has been sorely lacking. Technical research often comes from the amateur level, where new, useful information seems to come out regularly. Reading brewing-related magazines and online forums tends to be the best way to stay on top of developments related to mead. The nature of the information in the body of knowledge suggests that there is still much more to learn about mead, and that best practices will continue to evolve.
In developing the reading list for the mead judge certification, we had to make some compromises. We realize that not all sources will have equal levels of information, and that some of the relevant data for mead makers may constitute a small portion of the books. We understand that you may need to read several sources and try to reconcile conflicting information. Hopefully in the main body of this study guide, we’ve been able to identify the key concepts and modern understanding of mead, mead making and mead judging. This Mead Study Guide should present all the information you need to know to pass the exam, but it might not cover each topic in detail. Referring to reference sources is necessary to get the rest of the story. If you run across additional references that you think will help prospective mead judges, please pass them along.
- The Compleat Meadmaker, Ken Schramm, Brewers Publications, 2003. Singularly the
best current resource for meadmakers.
- Radical Brewing, Randy Mosher, Brewers Publications, 2004. Has good reference
materials on fruits and spices.
- Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers, Stephen Buhner, Brewers Publications, 1998. Good
reference material on obscure herbs that may be used in some meads.
- Zymurgy, May/June 2000, The Mead Issue. Currently out of print, but available to AHA members via the eZymurgy app.
- The Jamil Show from December 1, 2008. Podcast of Ken Schramm on The Jamil Show. Great interview covering great information on the subject.
- The National Honey Board website contains good information related to honey.
- Other Fruit Melomels, Curt Stock, Brew Your Own, July 2008. Great article on melomels with modern recommendations.
- Mastering Mead: Optimizing Honey Fermentation, Ken Schramm, Zymurgy, November/December 2005. Think of it as errata for The Compleat Meadmaker; it contains more modern findings on how to manage mead fermentation.
- Factors Considered in Wine Evaluation, Alexis Hartung, American Wine Society Journal, Winter 1999. While written for wine, the entire evaluation process is directly applicable to mead.
- A Treatise on Mead Judging, Michael L. Hall, Inside Mead, January 1996. The instructions for judges are quite relevant.
- Mead Lover’s Digest is an Internet discussion group on mead. Not all information is helpful and some of the more vocal participants are distinctly lacking in knowledge, but it is a good forum for finding other mead makers and having discussions related to mead.
- Great Wine Made Simple, Andrea Immer, Bantam Books, 2000, 2005 (2nd ed.). Great reference on tasting wine, the sensory and varietal characteristics of grapes and wine, and describing sensory characteristics.
Avoid older mead books, such as Brewing Mead: Wassail! In Mazers of Mead by Gayre (Brewers Publications, 1986), Making Mead (Honey Wine) by Morse (Aztex Corp, 1992), Mad About Mead by Spence (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2002), and Making Wild Wine & Meads by Vargas (Storey Books, 1999). They may be interesting from a historical basis but have little practical use today. Schramm’s book is a much better reference than all of these books combined.
The following is a collection of references and home to updates on topics of interest to mead judges. Not all material here is relevant for the exam, but it represents the body of published knowledge on mead.
- Definition of Honey – Definition of Honey and Honey Products
- Honey Reference Guide – Detailed Reference Guide to Honey
- pH in Honey – pH and Acids in Honey
- Honey Crystallization – Honey Crystallization
- Shelf Life and Stability of Honey – Shelf Life and Stability in Honey
Honey Varieties and Mead Ingredients
- Varietal Mead Comparison – Presentation from the 2010 AHA NHC by Susan Ruud and Gordon Strong
- Varietal Honey, Fruit, Spice and Grape Descriptions
- Honey Varietal Guide – Commercial information on Varietal Honeys
- Sensory Attributes of Honey – Sensory Attributes of Honey Varieties
- Honey Floral Source Guide – Floral Guide Fact Sheet
- European Honeys – Main European Unifloral Honeys, from a European technical journal
Mead and Mead Making
- Mastering Mead: Optimizing Honey Fermentation – Article from Zymurgy November/December 2005 by Ken Schramm
- Mead Success: Ingredients, Process, and Techniques – Article from Zymurgy Spring 1995 by Dan McConnell and Ken Schramm
- Oak and Mead – Article on the effects of using oak in mead making
- Mead Analysis – An Analysis of Mead, Mead Making and the Role of its Primary Constituents by Dan McConnell and Ken Schramm
Mead Analysis and Judging
- Judging Mead – Presentation given at 2010 BJCP Judge Reception by Exam Director Steve Piatz
- Honey Color – Honey Color as defined by the US Dept of Agriculture
- Tasting Honey – The Effect of Honey Additions on the Four Basic Tastes
- Wine Judging – Factors Considered in Wine Evaluation (American Wine Society), much of the information is applicable to mead. Reprinted with permission of the author.
- Sensory Analysis of Honey – Sensory Analysis Applied to Honey, a European technical journal article
- Mead Bibliography – Extensive list of books and articles on mead, honey and related topics. Furnished by Dan McFeeley.
Important BJCP References
- Introduction to the BJCP Mead Style Guidelines
- BJCP Mead Style Guidelines
- BJCP Special Ingredient Descriptions
- BJCP Exam Program Description
- BJCP Mead Scoresheet
- BJCP Mead Structured Scoresheet
- BJCP Cover Sheet
- BJCP Judge Instructions
- Judge Procedures Manual
- Competition Rules & Regulations
- Membership Guide
- Sample Scoresheets
- Mastering the BJCP Exam
- Exam Administration
- Exam Grader Resources