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Home » Brews and News
Table of Contents
President : June Road Trip
Beer Festival Comes to L.A.
This Month in Brews & News
LA County Fair Notice
The Fonts Of Wisdom And The Fountains Of Youth
Other Information
Competition Calendar

June 2001, Vol. XXVI, Num. 6
Don T. Knott, Editor
o Contributors:
Kevin Baranowski, John Aitchison,Rich Schmittdiel, Drew Beechum, Tom Wolf, Bruce Brode et al.
Contents Copyright 2001 The Maltose Falcons

June Road Trip
by Le' Presanowski
     The June meeting comes up quick, (Sunday the 3rd) and it seems we just had a meeting. Well this one is on the road up to Mallzee's Stuft Pizza & Brewery in Santa Clarita. 18810 Soledad Cyn rd to be exact, on the patio, so be prepared for warm weather. Starting time is 1:00 pm and the cost is $10.00 per person, which includes a small salad and personal pizza, plus tastings of the house beers. Club member and head brewer Mike Wissell will tell us about the beer styles he produces there and give small group tours of the brewery. There will be a short raffle for Stuft Pizza swag. Directions are: From the City or Valley, go north on the 5 freeway to the 14 (Antelope Valley Freeway). Exit at Sierra Hwy and turn right. Continue to Soledad Cyn and turn left. Mallzee's is on the left hand side at the front of the parking area for the movie theater. Check-in with and pay Jim Moorman our Club Treasurer and get a wristband. Try to be on time so that Mike can talk to everyone at once, and for pizza orders.

    We ran the program at the May meeting a little different this time, and although the flow was a bit out of sync, I believe it went well. I appreciate those that were there for beering with me on all the business items. Next meeting back at the Shop will be Sunday July 1st. Election day for the Club, so keep nominating those members that you want to see take us into the next year. I will have the nomination sheets at the Stuft Pizza meeting.

    We did spend a lot of time at the May meeting talking about the upcoming AHA Conference, June 20-23. You can still sign up for any of the events or the whole Conference. The prices have increased some; you can get all the info at www.beerodyssey.com. Don't forget to book a room at the Four Points Sheraton LAX if you will be drinking, instead of driving drunk and getting into trouble. Tell them your attending the Conference to get the $ 89.00 per night price. If you are planning to be there and can help with Club Night, please contact me, Kevin Baranowski at 818 362 5109. You can also leave emails on the club group email site. This should be a really fun event, and a lot of Falcons have devoted much time and effort into putting it all together.

    The location for Sunfest 2001 has been secured. August 11,12,13 Group camp at Campground 3 at the Kern River. This is 5 miles north of Kernville along the river. Prices will be announced at the June meeting, and in the July & August newsletters, as well as on the Falcons website. A sign-up sheet will be at the June & July meetings, and remain at The Shop the rest of the time. So with the cool waters of the Kern to play in and the cold homebrew to party with, this will be the big event of the summer for the Falcons, hope to see many of you there! But first, see you at Stuft Pizza on the 3rd. KB

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Beer Festival Comes to L.A.
By John Aitchison
     On Friday, June 22 from 5-11 PM, the inaugural LA Brewer's Open is coming to the Sheraton Four Points at 9750 Airport Blvd. near LAX. While the beer festival is associated with the American Homebrewers Association Conference, it is open to all beer lovers-you don't even need to be a homebrewer.

    The LA Brewer's Open hopes to accomplish several goals. Los Angeles really hasn't had a beer festival for a number of years; and the Long Beach festival wasn't all that good. We want to show off all the local brewers; the fine brewers of San Diego, and the better breweries from the entire West Coast. Not only will the beer be there, in most cases you can meet the brewers and ask questions as well. Mark Jilg from Craftsman, Michael Bowe from Angel City, Tommie Arthur from Pizza Port, Bob Brewer from Anchor are just a few examples of brewers that will be serving their beers.

    Another good excuse for the festival is increase beer awareness. Los Angeles has a reputation of being a BudMillerCoors holdout on a West Coast full of good beer. We know that's not true. It's time the rest of Southern California finds out also. Bring your friends and friends of friends. We are promoting the festival with tons of flyers, press releases, and especially word of mouth.

    Of course the best reason for the LA Brewer's Open is to have a good time. 50 breweries. 100 beers. A real ale festival with 30 firkins. Live blues. Good food. What more do you need?

    The price is right also. For $15 in advance or $20 at the door you get a tasting glass, admittance, and 8 tasting tickets. Additional tickets cost just $1 each. You can even get in free if you want to volunteer to pour beers, direct traffic, or stuff like that. You only have to "work" for a couple of hours, you can enjoy the festival the rest of the time. If you want to volunteer, contact Mark Poliner at brewmaster411@yahoo.com or just show up by 4:30 on Friday the 22nd. We only need a hundred volunteers, you might want to contact Mark to guarantee free admission. For advance tickets, call Tavern Service at (818) 349-0287 or (800) 603-9275.

    This beer festival is an all volunteer effort. All of us are homebrewers, and there are several Southern California clubs involved. No one is being paid or will make any profit from it. If there is any money left over after the expenses are paid, it will go to the KAMM Foundation which does Breast Cancer Research. We do need your help. Come. Bring your friends. Spread the word.

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This Month in Brews & News
by Don T. Knott
     This month's issue is being blasted out on a fast turnaround to get us back on our traditional meetings-on-the-first-Sunday schedule.With little more than two weeks since the last issue we still needed to get word out regarding our special meeting on June 3 at Mallzee's Stuft Pizza & Brewery in Santa Clarita. In addition we have the entry info for the annual L. A. County Fair homebrew judging. Oh, and by the way, Bruce Brode likes mead. He writes that mead is good.

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Notice of Competition - LA County Fair
    (Web Ed.)Notice Here

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Tenth Annual Mead Tasting Leaves 'Em Clamoring For More
By Bruce L. Brode
     Saturday, May 12 saw our Tenth Annual Winter-Spring Mead Tasting take place. Despite competing events at a busy time of year, 23 enthusiastic and curious mead fans enjoyed a wide variety of meads, at least 25 of them, both commercial and home made. If there was a theme to this year's tasting, I imagine it was the old and the new coming together. There were beginning meadmakers there gaining tips from longtimers such as Tom and Lois Hamilton and myself. And consider the potential connection between Jared and Jane, incipient beekeepers just learning about mead who brought some of their own bees' excellent fresh spicy comb honey, and Cy Crites, a retired aerospace employee from Lancaster who's been making mead for 10 years and tending bees since he was fourteen years old! Throughout the tasting, the connection between those of us devoted to the various forms of this ancient beverage art, and the comfort of knowing that there are other mead lovers out there to encounter, was apparent.

    If you weren't at the tasting, you should be aware that us meadmakers are investigating group bulk honey buys to feed our habit at reasonable prices. Current areas of investigation include Tupelo from Florida and berry honeys from the Pacific Northwest (raspberry, blackberry, maybe even blueberry), with other possibilities including orange blossom (relatively easy to obtain), boxwood, holly, and other exotics. If you are interested, contact me at SOON to get in on these deals. The minimum buy per person per honey type will be 12 pounds (one gallon), as we anticipate purchasing honey in 60 pound (5 gallon) buckets for the best prices of under $1.50 per pound, and besides, you need a lot of honey to make a decent mead!

    As always, I regret that we ran short on time and stamina that didn't allow for tasting all of the meads brought, although we did take our customary mid-tasting snack break at which Jared's home-made guacamole was a particular hit. Here's a list of the meads we did manage to taste:

    Drew Beechum: Sparkling Ginger-Orange Mead, and Orange Melomel.

    Bruce Brode: Oregon Mint Honey Traditional Mead, Brazilian Pepper Tree Honey Traditional Mead, Cranberry Melomel, Raspberry Melomel, and Colorado Wildflower Honey Traditional Mead.

    Commercial meads brought by Bruce Brode: Brother Adam's (Maine) Honey Braggot; Heidrun Meadery (California) Dry Sparkling Shively Spring Bloom Mead, and Shively Autumn Bloom Mead; White Winter Winery (Wisconsin) Dry Mead, and Brackett; Mountain Meadows Meadery (California) Nectar, and Spiced Nectar.

    Cy Crites: Dry Traditional Mead, and Sweet Traditional Mead.

    Cullen Davis: Sage Metheglin.

    Tom and Lois Hamilton: 1992 Sparkling Ginger Mead, Plum Melomel, and Orange Melomel.

    Steve Keppler: Mango Melomel. Commercial mead brought by Steve Keppler: St. Ambrosius (Austria) Spiced Mead.

    Richard Seymour: Red Zinger Tea-Flavored Mead, and Raspberry Melomel.

    Tom Wolf: Prickly Pear Melomel.

    Although we each had our favorites from this selection, my own customary tasting notes from what I considered to be the best of them (in due consideration of comments heard from around the room, and the limitations of print space) follows:

    Tom and Lois Hamilton, 1992 Dry Sparkling Ginger Mead: Honey-fruity aroma with a dry peppery edge and some oxidation. Medium green-gold color with good clarity and obvious carbonation. Flavor is rather dry and nutty with some peppery-fruity ginger in the finish. We've had this one before at previous tastings, and it is aging nicely.

    Cy Crites, Dry Traditional Mead: Made from the honey of his own bees in Lancaster, CA. Complex honey aroma with esters, phenols, and spicy notes. Very pale straw color with a greenish tint. The flavor is crisp, yet creamy, with a spicy edge and an almond-like essence. Crisply acidic but complex, and nice. A good example of that most elusive of meads, a good dry still one. We also tried Cy's Sweet Traditional Mead, which had a nicely balanced flavor although the aromatics were unusual enough to be off-putting to some. Mead for the macrobiotic diet!

    Shively Autumn Bloom Honey Dry Sparkling Mead, Heidrun Meadery, Arcata, CA: This meadery began commercial production in 1998 and claims to be the only one in the world devoted exclusively to the production of dry sparkling meads. We compared two of them made with honey from the same local region along the Eel River in Northern California, the only difference being the time of year when the honey is harvested (and therefore the difference in the flower types blooming at different times of the year). We felt the wines were acidified to appeal to drinkers of grape-based sparkling wines, and that this level of acidity might obscure some nuances of the honey. Of the two we liked this one better as the richer honey character stood up to the acidity more effectively: Musky, resiny aspect to the honey aroma, with some creaminess. Very slightly darker than the Spring Bloom and clearer, too. Similar lemony-fruity acidity to the flavor but less of a tropical fruit character. To order from the winery, call (877) HEIDRUN or visit their website at .

    Drew Beechum, Sparkling Ginger-Orange Mead: Fruity, spicy, creamy aspects to the bouquet with an edge of honey aromatics. Hazy pale yellow color in my sample. Crisp, peppery-fruity zing of ginger root is prominent in the flavor, orange far less so, producing a reliably dry finish. There is a touch of cinnamon and clove added, rather subtle.

    Richard Seymour, Red Zinger Tea-Flavored Sparkling Mead: Three years old. Those familiar with Red Zinger herb tea (which has prominent "jamaica" hibiscus blossom content) would find this flavoring idea fascinating, as I did. Fruity-estery aroma, slightly metallic aspect to it. Slight blush of red to the color is intriguing and attractive. The overall flavor is fairly acidic, with a collection of flavors competing to express themselves. Certainly, this is a terrific idea that will benefit from some refinement.

    (Traditional) Mead, Mountain Meadows Meadery, Westwood, CA: This meadery is NOT located in Westwood Village in the Los Angeles area, but in the Northern Sierra Nevada near Lake Almanor. They entered commercial production in 1995 and won several ribbons at the Mazer Cup Mead Competition in 1999 in the commercial division. The co-proprietor, Ron Lunder, actually has a connection with our annual tasting dating to the time before he was producing commercially, when he sent us a couple of samples to try. This time, we returned the favor and paid for our samples, and it was worth it! This mead had a complex, rich, nutty-spicy wildflower honey aroma with a touch of mint character. Pale straw color with some of the greenish tint I see so often in pale meads, and good clarity. Smooth, rich palate of honey and acid, with the acidic character lingering into the finish without becoming overbearing. This meadery makes 5 or 6 different products, which can be ordered by calling them at (530) 256-3234.

    Tom Wolf, Prickly Pear Melomel: Rich aroma of honey, nuts, alcohol, and a slight touch of fruit. Beautiful burnished gold color. Full, mouthfilling texture of honey with just enough acidity to balance. What it lacks in fruit intensity at this point is made up for in the richness and balance of the honey, which would provide a fine display for any distinctive fruit.

    Bruce Brode, Raspberry Melomel: The second-place winner at the 2001 Mayfaire Competition in the Mead category. Good rich aroma combines raspberry and honey in relatively balanced measure. Nice red-brown blush to the color, with good clarity. Crisp acidity in the flavor is buffered well by residual honey sweetness and body. This is an illustration of the good effects you can get by racking a finished traditional mead onto some raspberries (I used frozen/thawed ones) for several weeks before bottling.

    Brother Adam's Braggot Honey Ale, Atlantic Brewing Co., Bar Harbor, ME: We had this one last year and I let another bottle of it age for a year, figuring that it would improve. I think there's no question that it did. It has more honey aroma now than I recall from a year ago, with just a touch of muskiness. Deep amber color with nice clarity. Rich flavor combines malt, honey and hop bitterness fairly well, and the presence of substantial alcohol content does not go unnoticed. Light carbonation level is appropriate. An interesting product that is the best representation I've yet encountered of the very obscure Brackett/Braggot style (the crossroads of mead and ale) in the commercial marketplace. Thanks go to David Sherfey, a Hudson Valley Falcon, for donating this one a year ago.

    Steve Keppler, Mango Melomel: It's always nice to sample a mead that has been poured at previous tastings, and this is one of them, aging quite gracefully. It still has a rich fruity aroma, very perfumy, but the honey aroma seems less apparent than before. Full gold color with good clarity, inviting. The flavor is of similar richness to the aroma, with a refreshing fruity tang reminiscent of apricots. Still great, and I hope Steve makes more of it.

    Tom and Lois Hamilton, Sweet Orange Melomel: Here's another one we tried at last year's tasting, which could be described as an effort to get as much orange character into a mead as possible since the only liquid used is fresh-squeezed orange juice and the only honey is Orange Blossom. By now, the aroma presents as rather dry and alcoholic, with a touch of fruit. The flavor, however, retains the intense, sprightly character that matches a full texture to substantial acidity. It displays a lovely deep orange-gold color and nice clarity. A real treat!

    St. Ambrosius Spiced Mead, Austria: Donated by Steve Keppler, who bought it seven years ago in Austria in a candle shop where he says meads are sold rather than in liquor stores (beeswax and all that). Mick Deering, who was present and reads German, tells us that the back label is simply typical hyperbolic marketing text one would find on the back label of any commercial wine, although in Old German script it looks authentic, anyway. Substantial spicy aroma. Nice clarity and attractive medium gold color. Intense flavor with elements of cardamom and sandalwood, some thought a Drambuie or heather effect. Excellent balance between the honey and the spices for its intensity, and relatively little oxidation despite its age.

    Cullen Davis, Sage Metheglin: Made with sage honey and added sage herb. Light honey aroma, not much actual sage aroma, though. "Water white" color, extremely pale and clear. Fruity start to the flavor, and it finishes light with a good flash of sweetness. "Very clean" was a common comment. The fruity and delicate character, not to mention the very pale color, would make a mead such as this an excellent base for adventures in late-process fruit and herb/spice flavorings.

    Bruce Brode, Oregon Mint Honey Traditional Mead: The first place winner in meads at the 2001 Mayfaire competition, and it is an intense experience. Musk, caramel, alcohol, a powerful collection of aromas. Rich amber color and nice clarity. Very rich flavor has elements of caramel, nuts, molasses, tannins, and "olive." Made with 12 pounds of Oregon Mint Honey (very dark and not actually very mint-like in aroma) and 6 pounds of clover honey for 5 gallons, this is an example of the value of blending darker and lighter honeys to produce a more complex and balanced mead than either honey alone would provide.

    The tasting ended with enthusiastic attendees literally clamoring for more mead, despite a personal "encore," so I'd have to conclude that this tasting was once again a success.

    This report wouldn't be complete without me passing along a Traditional Mead recipe I have developed, from which the last mead described above was made. This makes a residually sweet mead of 12 to 13% alcohol by volume (or possibly more) that displays the character of the honeys used quite well in aroma, flavor, and body. Here it is:

Traditional Sweet Mead by Bruce Brode
18 poundshoney
4 gallonsdrinking water (relatively soft)
1 tablespooncomplete yeast nutrient, such as Superfood
2 packetsCotes De Blanc (Epernay) dried wine yeast
2 teaspoonsAcid Blend or Mead Acid Blend (to taste)
Bentonite for fining
Sparkoloid for fining
1/8 teaspoonpotassium metabisulfite (anti-oxidant, optional)
Sorbistat (anti-refermentative, optional)
    Bring 1.5 gallons of the water to a boil and shut off the heat. Stir in the yeast nutrient and the honey, stirring well to dissolve (this will take a few minutes). Dilute this concentrated must with the remainder of the water into your fermenter to yield slightly more than 5 gallons total. Allow the diluted must to cool until it is below 85 degrees F. Rehydrate the yeast in 1/2 cup warm (95 degrees F.) water for 15 minutes, then rouse the yeast/water combination and add it to the fermenter. Rouse the must in the fermenter to distribute the yeast and oxygenate the must. Allow to ferment in primary for up to two weeks, then rack to secondary and keep topped up to minimize air space above the wine. The fermentation should finish within 3 or 4 months but the wine will likely be hazy. Clarify by fining with bentonite (use slightly less than the package directions call for) followed immediately by Sparkolloid, according to package directions. The mead should then clarify within a few days. Rack it carefully off the fining sediment. Taste it at this point to determine acidity needs, and add acid TO TASTE ONLY at the rate of a half teaspoon at a time until balance is reached; usually no more than two teaspoons total is needed. Add potassium metabisulfite and Sorbistat if desired and bottle.

    Until our next tasting, a toast: In Mazers Of Mead!

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Events Calendar Check the big events section
    Sundays, Keg Night at Lucky Baldwins 17 South Raymond Ave. Pasadena. First pint is $4.50, keep the glass, refills are $2.50 until the keg runs dry, for more information call (626) 795-0652.

    First Tuesday, BJ's Beer Appreciation, Brea Every month. From 7:30-9:30 PM. $10, includes 10-11 tasters. Call (714) 990-2095 for reservations and directions.

    First Saturday, BJ's Brewery Tour, Brea Every month. Includes tasters, pizza, and souvenir glass for $14. Call (714) 990-2095 for reservations and directions.

    First Wednesday, BJ's Beer Appreciation, Woodland Hills Hosted by Alex Puchner and David Mathis, time 7:30-9:00 PM. Admission: $14 per person includes all beer samples, handouts and a raffle ticket.

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Want to make your own beer at home? Get started on the right foot. Check out the Falcon's sponsoring shop, The Home Beer, Wine, Cheesemaking Shop. John Daume, proprietor, has been serving the home brewing and winemaking needs of Angelenos since 1972, over 30 years! (Falcon Members receive a 10% discount on supplies)
Looking for older Falcons' information?, The Westval Maltose Falcons Webpage (Locally cached) (The Original Falcon's Roost, prior to 1999)
Looking for a home wine making club in the Los Angeles area? Check out our sister club, The Cellarmasters, over 30 and still stomping grapes.