When a Chance to be a Guest Judge Comes Up...Go for it!

I had the honor and pleasure of participating as a guest judge for the Australian Amateur Brewing Championships in Perth, Western Australia this weekend. Not only was it my first ever judging experience, but I got to taste some great beers and meads from the best amateur brewers in the country; and I got to meet some really great guys during and after the session.

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The competition organizers paired me up with two nationally ranked BJCP judges. This allowed me to offer my impressions of the beers and meads while receiving valuable insight into how the technical evaluations were finalized for scoring. Any nerves that I brought to the table quickly dissipated as I realized that years of sampling, drinking and hanging out with my team of aficionados at The Hive has positioned me to offer valid judgment on beers and meads. I was in my element and thought I held my own - a proud Apprentice!

We started off with Amber and Dark Lagers - a wide-ranging category that covered 18 different beers across eight styles. We progressed methodically through them and only occasionally differed in scores to a point that required a lengthy and technical discussion. I loved being able to hear the judges state their case for raising or lowering the score, and at the same time, I tried my best to explain the rationale behind my particular score. Those few instances provided me with the best insight and education during the event.

After a very quick lunch break, it was time to move onto the Mead Category. The Aussies brought some excellent offerings across a wide variety of styles to the nationals. We experienced some awesome traditionals, bochets, big fruit bombs, and some very interesting entries in the  “other mead” category. Some of the honeys used were quite unique. One in particular really stood out for me and I was told it was leatherwood honey from Tasmania (it wasn’t actually listed on the entry – so I’ll have to trust my newly befriended Aussie judges).

Overall, the experience was one of a kind and I’m thankful to Sean from Erosion Meadery for the invite. I can honestly say that I now have the bug and will start working towards improving my education and training to become a judge sometime in the future. If you ever get the chance to be a guest judge, I recommend you go for it. Thanks Mike for talking me into going.


Cayce Rivers is the head of Finance, Sales and Marketing for Meridian Hive. While not technically qualified to handle any of those areas, his 20 plus years in the corporate world provides a wealth of ammunition to allow him to fake his way through most of it. He brings a balance of extraordinary vision, sharp focus and practicality to help the team reach seemingly unachievable goals.

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Top 5 Things to Look for in Your Mead

Whether you're tasting your buddy's home-brew or trying out the latest release from your favorite meadery, look for the following characteristics of a great mead.

1. Balance - Meads can be made with a wide range of alcohol content, sweetness levels, acidity and tannins. Regardless of the level of any of those, a great mead must have balance across all components. No single element should be overly conspicuous or dominate the flavor profile.

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2. Aroma - you should find a pleasant and inviting aroma that is not dominated by an overly strong alcohol smell.

3. Sense Transition - The mead should have sufficient complexity to guide your sense of smell and taste. Similar to balance above, the transition must be continuous and smooth with the aromas providing a roadmap to the flavors inside.

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4. Drinkability - Whether seeking out a refreshing draft or a complex and rich still, a great mead will leave you wanting another glass after you finish.

5. Enjoyment - whatever mead you try tonight, it can only be great if it leaves you with a smile on your face.

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The Hive goes To The Festival

The last few weeks have been very crazy, exciting and busy for all of us here at The Hive!!

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Launching Houston with Favorite Brands, a huge turnout for National Mead Day, installing Thelma & Louise (our new fermentation tanks) and attending "The Festival" presented by Shelton Brothers in Atlanta. Mike and I were the two lucky bees that went!

The Festival weekend kicked off with a Welcome Dinner for industry professionals on Thursday night at Comet Lanes. Unlimited bowling, food and tasty local brews made it easy to connect with fellow craft-makers, to gather, share ideas, inspire each other, and work together to propagate the “not just another beer fest” movement.

Friday and Saturday were designated for the actual Festival. Each day had a VIP session followed by General Admission. An additional Industry Session on Saturday morning prior to the VIP made for a couple of long days. I can’t believe how fast it all went by. 

So many happy faces, so many meads poured, amazing beers, ciders and meads drank, contacts exchanged, old friends re-connected and new friends made. I can truly say we had a great and successful time!

Now back in Austin, my voice still somewhere between here and Atlanta, I slowly start to realize how incredible the fest was. My biggest fear going in was "in this [sour] beer dominant world, can our meads satisfy the crowd in a line up that included many of the finest brews in the world? Will we get any interest at all?" I am extremely happy and proud to say that we did fit in, and I dare say we stood out!

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We received some great comments, such as..."Mead in a can? How cool!”; “Oh, this is different than what I expected"; "Wow, your meads are delicious" and “Thank you for the great tasting experience”. We had an absolute blast sharing our modern mead with everyone we met.

Thank you Shelton Brothers for putting The Festival together, thank you Atlanta for hosting and last but not least thanks to my Hive family for “making” me go. 😃

Prost!

Meridian Hive Mead In Houston!

The Houston Market has long been asking for our award winning meads and after a few months of self-distribution to test the market, we realized the potential was huge and we needed help to get into all of the best venues across the city. So we started our search for a distribution partner that shared our values and our commitment to bringing our products to Houston's craft scene.

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We are proud to announce our partnership with Favorite Brands. Together we are working hard to introduce our meads into the greater Houston area.

You can already find us at your favorite local grocers and liquor stores like HEB, Total Wine and Craft Beer Cellar; as well as some great bars and restaurants like BJ's, Old Chicago, The Hobbit Cafe and Ship and Shield.

Meridian Hive Bottles and Cans in a row

We continue to expand our presence across the city and encourage you to participate in our growth. How, you might ask?

1. Go to our Mead Finder and look for a retailer or bar near you.

2. If you know of a great fit for our product and it's not on the list, let us know and we'll work with Favorite Brands to get in as soon as possible.

We look forward to becoming Houston's go to craft beverage. We appreciate all of our customer's support and patience as we continue to grow our presence. If you've yet to try our mead, what are you waiting for? 

Join us in the Craft Mead Revolution!

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Cayce Rivers is the head of Finance, Sales and Marketing for Meridian Hive. While not technically qualified to handle any of those areas, his 20 plus years in the corporate world provides a wealth of ammunition to allow him to fake his way through most of it. He brings a balance of extraordinary vision, sharp focus and practicality to help the team reach seemingly unachievable goals.

So you want to be a mead sales rep....

So you want to be a Sales Rep in the alcoholic beverage industry?

The DFW skyline

This Monday I got up at 5:45AM to grab a big cup of coffee to help me get through our weekly sales meeting that starts at 6AM. We finally finished just over an hour later and then I started prepping for my day - It was travel day!

I was heading up to DFW for a few days to check in with our customers and distributor. I mapped out my route for my account & lead visits and created a call list for my Austin customers. I had to touch base with them while in the car, because I couldn't visit them this week. I packed my suitcase and all product samples I needed for the week. Then I threw an ample supply of stickers, coasters & koozies in the bag to hand out at my glass nights and a festival on the week's agenda.

The plan was to get on the road around 9:30AM so rush hour traffic should have dissolved by then. I knew I probably wouldn't check into the hotel until around 9:30PM at night! A long day for sure, but I'd done it many times in the past.

The drive only took around two and a half hours before I stopped at the first retail account in Arlington. From there I traversed the city, visiting other bars, growler bars and more retail accounts (as well as some prospective new customers). The last stop before heading to the hotel was reserved for my glass night at a bar. I planned extra time for dinner and a drink (or two)!

DFW Traffic on the road

Of course the day never goes as planned. The second bar manager was not in - That's ok, I left my card, our product info sheet and planned to call or email later. And I don't recall if it was normal traffic or some closed road due to construction, but I got delayed on the way to my next stop. I also chatted longer with the manager there, causing my schedule to slip even more. Then I had to wait because there was a line of other reps at the bottle shop. If I just had some time to stop into the bar I just past that looks like a great potential customer...maybe tomorrow.

While on the road, I got a call from our Delivery Team about issues with receiving at a major customer that I needed to help with. And our South Austin Rep called to confirm we finally got set up as a new vendor at a new big account so he can start selling them our mead. Then I realized I had missed my turnoff...where was I?

I really want to know how people could do this jobs years ago and be anything close to efficient. Thank goodness for GPS.

At 5PM... stuck in traffic again...didn't make it to this last Whole Foods because I know the buyer left at 5, dang it. And I couldn't go in to sample the bar manager at the restaurant either because the dinner rush was about to start... hmmm... good thing there was a bar close by. I stopped in there to get some administrative work done before heading to the bar for my glass night starting at 7pm. That should keep the boss happy and off my back!

So, why do I go through all off this?

Angi Sales Manager giving a thumbs up sign

Because I love craft mead/beer/cider and I love to help spread the word to a new audience and hopefully win a few over from the dark side. 

There are a few bad days where I get up on the wrong side of the bed, but I still put on my best face for our existing and soon to be customers.  Some days I drive home with zero sales for the day wondering if I've lost my touch and what my boss will think. It's a good thing the majority of the time I'm getting new orders and new accounts and having a lot of fun.

I do this because, even though I complain sometimes and it can be exhausting, I really do love doing this. I love meeting new people, making new friends, seeing the pleasantly surprised faces of my new customers and hearing them say -
Mead. Who Knew?

Support your local mead rep.

Drunken Pecan Pie with bounty mead

Pecan Pie next to a bottle of Bounty Mead

Our “in-house chef”, Robert already posted his recipe for a main course, Oven Braised Brisket. If you really want to show off your mead infused recipes, try this Pecan Pie for an indulgent dessert?

At Christmas time last year I wanted to make something special as I had family visiting from overseas. I really wanted something typically American, and Southern to be more precise; so I couldn't think of a better choice than Pecan Pie! For the “special” part of the recipe, I decided on Bounty, Meridian Hive's bourbon barrel-aged Apple Mead. The idea of the Drunken Pecan Pie was born.

I chose Bounty to add to the warmth and richness of the pecan pie. The honey and apple character bring a new flavor dimension to this age old classic.

For the Crust:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup ground pecans
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold butter
8 tablespoons Bounty

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, pecans, sugar, and salt. Mix well. Add the butter and mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add Bounty and let it sit for 1 minute. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out on the floured surface into a circle about 12 inches in diameter and 1/8-inch thick. Gently fold the circle of dough in half and then in half again so that you can lift it without tearing it, and unfold into a 9 by 2-inch deep-dish pie pan.
 

For the Filling

1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup dark corn syrup or ¼ dark corn syrup and ½ cup honey
3 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 to 2 cups pecan halves
2 tablespoons chilled Bounty

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar and melted butter. Add the corn syrup, eggs, pecans, and Bounty, and stir until all ingredients are combined. Pour mixture into an unbaked pie shell, and place on a heavy-duty cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and continue to bake for an additional 25 minutes, or until pie is set.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Serve a slice to each guest, pile on your favorite vanilla bean ice cream and don't forget to pair it with a generous pour of Bounty. Enjoy!

 

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Angi Wilkes is Meridian Hive’s Brand Manager and key woman in the field, meaning she mostly drives around listening to music in a car full of mead . You might be thinking “Hey, that sounds like a pretty cool job, how can I get that job?” The answer is that you can’t because we just told you that’s Angi’s job. We actually don’t see her as often as we'd like, but we really like it when we do. She can hang with the best knurds on all beer, wine and mead topics; and she's clever, funny and pretty awesome (even if she's not from around here).

meridian hive makes The Mazer Cup, just

As the Mazer Cup weekend approached, the team arrived in Denver a couple of days early to prepare for meetings with potential distributors, visit and sample products to potential customers, do some sight seeing and visit with old friends. All of those things were going according plan until, out of the blue, we got a call from the Mazer Cup staff at 3:15 PM on Thursday (the day before the judging started) - our entries had not arrived at the competition venue.

making our Discovery draft mead

I was fairly proficient at beer making before a fellow home brewer, Mark Schoppe introduced me to mead. My first reaction was “Wow, this is quite different, and very tasty.” This piqued my interest for sure, and over the course of the next couple of years I increased my knowledge of mead and gained exposure to a variety of styles by judging several home-brew competitions.