Friday, September 19, 2014

Steve Piatz Mead Talk

Ok, I know the blog has been a little light on beer stuff recently, so here is a little write-up on the meadmaking class that Steve Piatz gave at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum last weekend.  I actually hadn't realized that the Arboretum had so many adult education classes, but since Sj joined up this summer I've learned a lot more about them.  I have also been taking little field trips out to take pictures (as anyone who has been watching my 30 Word Thursday posts will know!) 

Found this busy guy in the gardens at the Arboretum...

For those who don't know who Steve is, he is a highly educated and intelligent retired engineer who just happens to be one of the foremost authorities on making mead.  He is one of the highest ranked BJCP judges in the world and in 2008 was awarded Meadmaker of the Year at NHC.  So this guy knows his stuff!  Oh, and he's also a really nice guy who is willing to share his expertise with others.

This fine morning we met at the Arboretum Learning Center early in the morning to set up everything for the talk.  There were two levels of the class: those who learned and tasted meads, and those who also got to make their own 1 gallon mead recipe to take home. 

Once folks arrived, Steve jumped into a great lecture on the history of mead.  Many people in the class were homebrewers and others were beekeepers looking into another use for their honey.  Every 15 minutes or so Mike B., Paul D., and myself would pour commercial and homemade meads to the group.  I have to say that Steve's meads were better than all of the commercial examples!  We tried traditional meads, fruit meads, metheglins (spiced meads), Pyments (grape meads), and even a fantastic fortified port-like mead from White Winter called Black Harbor.  While people were sipping on their newest mead, Steve would continue with the talk and also give a quick explanation of each mead we were tasting. 

Commercial meads

Eventually we moved into the hands-on part of the class.  This got a little chaotic between continued mead tasting, talk, and actually making of the mead.  Luckily the fine spouses of Mike, Paul, and Steve all jumped in to help out and we were able to handle everything well.  Special thanks should also go to Midwest Homebrewing Supplies for helping out with ingredients and equipment. 

Steve Piatz waxes poetic about his passion: mead!

By the end of the lecture more than half the group had a gallon bucket of mead to take home, and everyone was quite happy having tried a great grouping of meads.  I'm glad that I was invited to help out because I learned quite a bit during the talk!  I've made some meads myself, but am looking to up my game, and I think this will help.  I have already invested in a couple big gallon jugs of honey and have started a one gallon batch of cranberry blossom honey from the local Minnesota Honey Company in Minneapolis.

A quick plug for Steve's new book:  I bought a copy and am about half way through it.  Lots of good info in here and very useful recipes and techniques...not the usual vague stuff that is in many of the older mead books.  Buy one from Amazon here. 

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