Mazer Cup: The GABF of Mead

So, a long while ago I wrote here about Mead, and its comeback, and its relevance to craft beer.  Well, I’m back writing about it again.  I love the stuff, admittedly.  And while I have only seen 2 non-Colorado meads on even the nerdiest of liquor store shelves (CO itself only has 4 producers of the drink of kings), all signs point to steady growth and acceptance.  Besides the old-news milestone of being on tap at some of the geekier craft beer bars nationwide (think Falling Rock and Blind Tiger), my case in point is the Mazer Cup International, a judged competition involving homebrewed and commercial offerings of mead from coast-to-coast, including a couple of overseas samplings.

Now in its 4th year, the Mazer Cup has a lot of resemblances to the early days of GABF: ~342 unique meads to be judged, an infant but fast-growing market with few regional players, and all commencing in a Boulder, CO hotel.  I’m not saying that in 15 years the Mazer Cup will have record-fast ticket sellouts in major convention halls, but…

If you’ve never tasted mead before, just remember back to when you were experiencing craft beer for the first time(s).  The uncertainty of what to buy, the curiosity, not knowing what you’re supposed to taste vs. what you actually taste…but then you crack open that bad boy and find a new flavor experience you want to share with everyone you talk to.  It’s like that.  Just dive in, and don’t expect it to taste like straight honey from a bear-shaped bottle. If it makes you feel better, it’s counted as a style category on  So nerd up and pinky out.

If you’re curious about sampling some 60+ brands of viking juice, and don’t mind getting to (or living in) Boulder, CO, then lucky you!  Kick off the 2013 festival season with class at the Mazer  Cup’s first public Mead Mixer, the public tasting portion of the competition.  Tix here.  And besides the obligatory souvenir glass there’s food!  For your belly! With price of admission!  A rare treat in modern beerfests.  

And thanks to weird post-prohibition laws, mead counts as ‘wine’ and thus is allowed to be shipped nationwide direct from producer to consumer.  So if you fell in love with that Blackberry Mead from Pirtle Winery in Missouri, it’s not forever out of reach. (Though, may I shamelessly plug/reccomend Boulder’s own Redstone Meadery?)

The competitive (judged) portion of the competition is the day after, and not open to the public, however.  To get behind the scenes well by-gum you’ll need to volunteer.  To keep track of them to remind yourself for next year, follow their Facebook or Twitter.

4 Comments to “Mazer Cup: The GABF of Mead”

  1. Elspeth Payne 16 March 2013 at 8:27 pm #

    4th year?? Mazer Cup’s been around a LOT longer than that!

    • Brian Leppla 17 March 2013 at 5:19 pm #

      Elspeth–my bad. Mazer Cup’s home page has competition results going back to ’09, making this the 5th year, not 4th. If they’ve been going on for longer, I suppose I didn’t do my due diligence and just took the webpage at face value…

  2. poisoneddwarf 17 March 2013 at 8:13 am #

    Viking juice, that’s awesome. LOL

  3. WayneB 19 March 2013 at 3:52 am #

    Brian, although Elspeth is technically right (the original Mazer Cup was concocted by a guy named Ken Schramm, and conducted in his house somewhere in outside Detroit, Michigan) the latest incarnation, the Mazer Cup International, has been going for 5 years. We conduct the event every Spring in Boulder, with the blessings of (and help from) Mr. Schramm himself.

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