M4. Specialty Mead

2015 Beer Judge Certification Program Guidelines

Sweetness. A mead may be dry, semi-sweet, or sweet. Sweetness simply refers to the amount of residual sugar in the mead. Sweetness is often confused with fruitiness in a dry mead. Body is related to sweetness, but dry meads can still have some body. Dry meads do not have to be bone dry. Sweet meads should not be cloyingly sweet, and should not have a raw, unfermented honey character. Sweetness is independent of strength. Note that tannin levels can affect the perceived sweetness of mead (more tannin makes a mead seem drier), but acidity is more related to the quality, balance, and enjoyment of the sweetness. The purpose of identifying a sweetness level is primarily to aid in the ordering of a flight. Minor differences from stated sweetness level should not be heavily-penalized or considered a disqualifying fault.

Carbonation. A mead may be still, petillant, or sparkling. Still meads do not have to be totally flat; they can have some very light bubbles. Petillant meads are lightly sparkling and can have a moderate, noticeable amount of carbonation. Sparkling meads are not gushing, but may have a character ranging from mouth- filling to an impression akin to Champagne or carbonated water. Minor differences from stated carbonation level should not be heavily-penalized or considered a disqualifying fault.

Strength. A mead may be categorized as hydromel, standard, or sack strength. Strength refers to the alcohol content of the mead (and also, therefore, the amount of honey and fermentables used to make the mead). Stronger meads can have a greater honey character and body (as well as alcohol) than weaker meads, although this is not a strict rule. Well-made stronger examples may have difficult-to-detect strength. Minor differences from stated strength level should not be heavily-penalized or considered a disqualifying fault.

Honey variety. Some types of honey have a strong varietal character (aroma, flavor, color, acidity). If a honey is unusual, additional information can be provided to judges as to the character to be expected. Note that wildflower isn’t a varietal honey; it is specifically a term used to describe a honey derived from an unknown source or from mixed flowers or blossoms. Consider providing a description of the honey if it is not listed in the Mead Exam Study Guide or other BJCP references. Identifying the source (state or region) and season of the honey can be useful information for the judges.

Special ingredients. Different styles may include fruit, spice, malt, etc. Judges need to understand the ingredients that provide a unique character in order to properly evaluate the mead. Oak additions do not have to be specified (but may be at the entrant’s discretion); oaking is acceptable in every mead style. Excessive oaking is a fault, just as in wine; any use of oak should be balanced and complimentary. A declared use of oak should not be interpreted as requiring the oak to be a primary flavor.

M4A. Braggot

M4A. Braggot

A Braggot is a mead made with malt.
Overall Impression: A harmonious blend of mead and beer, with the distinctive characteristics of both. A wide range of results are possible, depending on the base style of beer, variety of honey and overall sweetness and strength. Beer flavors tend to somewhat mask typical honey flavors found in other meads. Aroma: Depending on the sweetness, strength and base style of beer, a subtle to distinctly identifiable honey and beer character (dry and/or hydromel versions will tend to have lower aromatics than sweet and/or sack versions). The honey and beer/malt character should be complementary and balanced, although not always evenly balanced. If a variety of honey is declared, the aroma might have a subtle to very noticeable varietal character reflective of the honey (different varieties have different intensities and characters). If a base style of beer or type of malt is declared, the aroma might have a subtle to very noticeable character reflective of the beer style (different styles and malts have different intensities and characters). A hop aroma (any variety or intensity) is optional; if present, it should blend harmoniously with the other elements. Standard description applies for remainder of characteristics.
Appearance: Standard description does not apply due to beer- like characteristics. Clarity may be good to brilliant, although many braggots are not as clear as other meads. A light to moderate head with some retention is expected if the mead is carbonated. Color may range from light straw to dark brown or black, depending on the variety of malt and honey used. The color should be characteristic of the declared beer style and/or honey used, if a variety is declared. Stronger versions may show signs of body (e.g., legs).
Flavor: Displays a balanced character identifiable as both a beer and a mead, although the relative intensity of flavors is greatly affected by the sweetness, strength, base style of beer, and variety of honey used. If a beer style is declared, the braggot should have some character traceable to the style although the flavors will be different due to the presence of honey. If a variety of honey is declared, the braggot should feature a subtle to prominent varietal character (different varieties have different intensities).

Stronger and/or sweeter braggots should be expected to have a greater intensity of flavor than drier, lower gravity versions. The finish and aftertaste will vary based on the declared level of sweetness (dry to sweet), and may include both beer and mead components. A wide range of malt characteristics is allowable, from plain base malts to rich caramel and toast flavors to dark chocolate and roast flavors. Hop bitterness and flavor may be present, and may reflect any variety or intensity; however, this optional character should always be both suggestive of the base beer style and well blended with the other flavors. Standard description applies for remainder of characteristics.
Mouthfeel: Standard description does not apply due to beer- like characteristics. Smooth mouthfeel without astringency. Body may vary from moderately light to full, depending on sweetness, strength, and the base style of beer. Note that stronger meads will have a fuller body. A very thin or watery body is undesirable, as is a cloying, raw sweetness. A warming sense of well-aged alcohol may be present in stronger examples. Carbonation will vary as described in the standard description. A still braggot will usually have some level of carbonation (like a cask bitter) since a completely flat beer is unappetizing. However, just as an aged barleywine may be still, some braggots can be totally still. Ingredients: A braggot is a mead made with both honey and malt providing flavor and fermentable extract. Originally, and alternatively, a mixture of mead and ale. A braggot can be made with any type of honey, and any type of base beer style. The malt component may be derived from grain or malt extracts. The beer may be hopped or not. If any other ingredients than honey and beer are contained in the braggot, it should be entered as an Experimental Mead. Smoked braggots may be entered in this category if using smoked malt or a smoked beer as the base style; braggots made using other smoked ingredients (e.g., liquid smoke, chipotles) should be entered in the Experimental Mead style.
Comments: Sometimes known as bracket or brackett. The fermentable sugars come from a balance of malt or malt extract and honey, although the specific balance is open to creative interpretation by brewers.

M4B. Historical Mead

M4B. Historical Mead

A Historical Mead is a historical or indigenous mead that doesn’t fit into another subcategory (e.g., Ethiopian tej, Polish meads). The BJCP welcomes submissions of writeups of historical or indigenous styles that fit into this category. Overall Impression: This mead should exhibit the character of all of the ingredients in varying degrees, and should show a good blending or balance between the various flavor elements. Whatever ingredients are included, the result should be identifiable as a honey-based fermented beverage.
Aroma, appearance, flavor, mouthfeel generally follow the standard descriptions, yet note that all the characteristics may vary. Since a wide range of entries are possible, note that the characteristics may reflect combinations of the respective elements of the various sub-categories used in this style. Refer to Category M1 for a detailed description of the character of dry, semi-sweet and sweet mead. If the entered mead is a combination of other existing mead categories, refer to the constituent categories for a detailed description of the character of the component styles.

M4C. Experimental Mead

M4C. Experimental Mead

An Experimental Mead is a mead that does not fit into any other mead subcategory. This could apply to meads that blend multiple mead subcategories (unless the combination fits elsewhere, such as Melomel or Fruit and Spice Mead). Any experimental mead using additional sources of fermentables (e.g., maple syrup, molasses, brown sugar, or agave nectar), additional ingredients (e.g., liquors, smoke, etc.), alternative processes (e.g., icing), fermentation with non-traditional yeasts (e.g., Brettanomyces, Belgian lambic or ale, etc.), or other unusual ingredient, process, or technique would also be appropriate in this category. Oak-aging does not necessarily force a mead into the Experimental Mead style unless the barrel has another characteristic (such as bourbon) in addition to the wood. No mead can be “out of style” for this category unless it fits into another existing mead category.
Overall Impression: This mead should exhibit the character of all of the ingredients in varying degrees, and should show a good blending or balance between the various flavor elements. Whatever ingredients are included, the result should be identifiable as a honey-based fermented beverage.
Aroma, appearance, flavor, mouthfeel generally follow the standard descriptions, yet note that all the characteristics may vary. Since a wide range of entries are possible, note that the characteristics may reflect combinations of the respective elements of the various sub-categories used in this style. Refer to Category M1 for a detailed description of the character of dry, semi-sweet and sweet mead. If the entered mead is a combination of other existing mead categories, refer to the constituent categories for a detailed description of the character of the component styles.

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