The following rules govern the Annual Mead Competition of the Wellington Beekeepers Association:

The mead must be derived from fermented honey.

Entries must be in a clear glass bottle (preferably 750ml) and secured with a cork or replaceable cap or stopper.  Sparkling mead should be presented in stronger bottles designed to hold a liquid under pressure.

The judge’s palate is final.

There will be four classes:

  • Traditional- Dry
  • Traditional-Sweet
  • Traditional- Sparkling
  • Open – Nontraditional meads using Fruit (Melomels) or Spices (Metheglins) or a combination of these.

Traditional Mead

Mead is made primarily from honey, water and yeast. Some minor adjustments in acidity and tannin can be made with citrus fruits, tea, or chemicals. However, these additives should not be readily discernable in flavor or aroma. Yeast nutrients may be used but should not be detected. If citrus, tea, or chemical additives result in flavor components above a low, background, balance-adjusting level, the resulting mead should be entered in the Open Category.

Characteristics of Good Mead

Refer to the BJCP Style Guidelines as a guide as to what determines good mead.

Tips for successful mead making:

  • The yeast needs to be provided with nutrients and acids that would normally be present in grape juice
  • Boiling the must is optional as it affects the subtle aromas in honey
  • Sanitisation is important
  • Get the amount of tannin right, as this controls the "after-taste"
  • Try for a taste which "explodes" in your mouth with a freshness
  • Do-not heat honey beyond 30°C as it destroys the good natural qualities.
  • Use sunlight heat to melt the wax to separate the honey which then becomes runny. That is enough heat and retains the goodness. This can be done in a black wooden box with a sealed glass lid on it, works really well.
  • Use spring water such as Petone spring water which has most of the needed minerals in it.
  • Don’t use rain water as it has no nutrients. Tap water has fluoride and chlorine in it.
  • Some honey  such as thyme and  manuka have aromas which can be too strong in flavour. They can be blended with pohutukawa, clover, buttercup or other lighter flavored honeys.
  • Some mead makers add cinnamon, cloves or other herbs. Depends how pure one wants to be.     
  • An important point for making good mead is to get the sugar gravity correct.
  • Dissolve the honey in water for as long as it takes. Best not to over-heat it.  Water eventually dissolves even hard honey.
  • One can make melomels from most fruits and then bring the sugar gravity up with honey.
  • These melo meads or metheglins can be very interesting with natural flavours. Tudor monks made many recipes for the Holy Father. (Probably more for their own use?)
  • These recipes can be found on the internet. We have one made with peppermint and elder-flower.
  • Rack the honey for clarity .Like taking cream off the milk, you are left with trim milk which in the case of mead is the musk, or the yeast sediment which needs to be separated to get the true taste. This process can be done maybe 4 times to get clarity. You can use finings or potassium metabisulphate to clarify. Best not to filter unless there are fruit solids.
  • Aging is the secret for good true flavors. This eventually brings clarity.
  • Decide whether you want a dry or a sweet mead:25% of honey to the volume of water makes a dry mead, which may have a sugar gravity of 15%
  • 33% of volume to water usually  makes a sweet mead . However Pohutukawa  is a sweet honey so tastes sweet  with a sugar gravity of 22%

Just a few tips to choose from. There are many more tips but that could be the mead makers secret.
Courtesy Jacob De Ruiter


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