On March 19th, a massive swarm of professional and novice mead aficionados descended upon Broomfield Colorado for the country’s largest annual mead competition, the Mazer Cup. In the mead making world, there isn’t any honor higher than winning this blind-judged mead competition.
The competition takes place every year in March, and holds competitions for both home-brewed and commercial mead that are evaluated by a panel of expert judges. The mead is organized first into homebrew vs. professional, then into categories that range from melomel to pyment to braggot. Finally, within each category the mead is sorted once more for sweetness: dry, semi-dry, and sweet. Metals are given to the top three in each category.
This year, Superstition Meadery came out on top, coming away with 4 gold medals and 1 silver – more golds than any one meadery won last year.
2015 Mazer Cup Winners
Superstition Meadery’s position as 2016’s most awarded meadery isn’t exactly a shock, since they’ve performed exceptionally well at every event in the Mazer Cup’s since they started entering their meads in 2012. Last year they won 3 golds for the Sweet Variety, Semi-Sweet Dessert Mead , and Sweet Dessert Mead categories.
Last year’s overall winner was Moonlight Meadery of New Hampshire, whose head mead maker is Michael Fairbrother.
Another great showing at last year’s competition was The Colony Meadery, who took home 5 total medals, including top honors in the Semi-Sweet Specialty category for their Mo-Me-Doh.
Last year’s best Braggot was from Rabbit’s Foot Meadery, which makes sense, because rabbits love hops.
Should you ever find yourself anywhere near Southern New Hampshire, don’t miss last year’s big winner, Moonlight Meadery. If you live far away, don’t fret – you can pick up a bottle of Utopian from the website. It’s a tad on the expensive side, but can you really put a price on one of the best examples of mead to ever come out of America? (ok, I guess you can put a price on it, because they did – but it’s worth it.)
Once a year Moonlight releases the very special barrel aged Utopian, which at this point has aged for 5 years. The flavor is fine and complex, and reminds tasters of cognac.
Rabbit’s Foot Meadery
Having swept the Braggot category last year, it’s obvious what Rabbit’s Foot Meadery does best. If you can somehow round up Honey Stout, you should definitely do so.
Otherwise, you should order yourself some Melia, which won bronze in the Sweet Varietal category last year.
The 2016 Mazer Cup
This year’s big winner, Superstition Meadery, took home four gold medals and one silver medal from five different categories.
The Mazer Cup medals were awarded only a few months after Superstition won 10 medals at the Awards Ceremony from Ratebeer.com in Santa Rosa, California, at which they were also named the second best meadery in the world.
Superstition Meadery uses honey from their own Arizona apiary, fed by a unique local blend of desert wildflowers. They’re also intensely focused on selecting the proper barrels for aging their mead. Many different types of barrels are used, and the meadery has plans to experiment with run, tequila, scotch, and aquivit barrels for future batches.
This small but mighty meadery is growing quickly, so much so that they’ve just broken ground on a new building in Prescott, Arizona. The new facility will feature custom drains for the fermentation tank and a climate controlled barrel aging room.
This past January, Superstition Meadery released their 2015 Mazer Cup winning varietal mead, Super Bee. The traditional sweet mead is made with Arizona ironwood honey and features a label with art from local Phoenix artist Wrara.
Our 2015 Mazer Cup Gold Medal Varietal Mead is being released on Friday, the 29th! This sweet traditional mead is made with amazing Arizona ironwood honey sustainably harvested by our friends at Bee Dudes, and bears a beautiful hand painted label by Phoenix artist Wrara.
Superstition Meadery owner Jeff Herbert appreciates the importance of his win at this year’s Mazer Cup: “The products we make are part of an emerging industry and are largely unknown outside of craft beer circles. For the most devoted craft beverage lovers to rate Superstition’s products among the best in the world is the highest honor we could receive.”
Superstition also happens to make the highest rated hard cider in the world according to ratebeer.com, Blueberry Spaceship Box.
Superstition isn’t getting comfortable however, as they are scheduled to break ground on their new production facility in the Prescott Airpark on Monday, March 28th. The new facility will be 3,750 square feet with custom drains for fermentation tanks and a climate controlled barrel aging room.
If you’re lucky enough to live in one of the 35 states Superstition currently ships to, you can order a bottle or case or truckload of Aphrodesia, Superstition’s award-winning pyment from last year’s competition.
Superstition Meadery’s rapid entrepreneurial rise in the business of alcoholic craft beverages has been shining a light on the city of Prescott, a quaint Arizona jewel that now boasts five local craft breweries and an emerging foodie scene. Superstition’s products are available throughout Arizona and they ship to 35 States, but to fully experience the best meads in the world you can visit the historic, renovated tasting room at Superstition Meadery located on the courthouse square in Prescott, Arizona 7 days a week.
The Competition from a Meadmaker’s Perspective
As Sam Schiebold of Golden Coast Meadery in Oceanside, California reports in the meadery’s blog, the competition has developed a delightful maturity, but still has room to grow. He says that when he first started visiting in 2011, only a few meads “lived up to the promise of the mead
This year, he says that he tasted a judged many great meads, a few of which were “basically sublime,” with an overarching theme among the group of “approachable complexity, evolving elegance, and beautiful balance.”
That time a pair of AleHorns snuck into Golden Coast Meadery in Oceanside, CA
What he’d like to see in future years is further splitting of categories, as two totally different meads often end up facing off unfairly due to overly broad categorization. All of this, even his criticism of the category system, point to the fact that the competition (and the mead industry in general) is growing and maturing beautifully, and that mead enthusiasts have a lot to be thankful for, and a lot to look forward to.
Golden Coast Meadery is known for their crowd-pleasing Orange Blossom mead made from local bees who live the good life sipping on famous California orange blossoms all day. You can snag this extremely light and well-balanced mead and some other super interesting meads on their online shop, like the wild fermented Galley Grog.
Sam finished off his recap with a call out to anyone who enjoys mead to consider heading to the competition next year as a steward or judge.