MEGA Newsletter – April 2016

MEGA Newsletter – April 2016

Next Meeting is Sunday, April 10, 2016

2:00 pm

Fiddler’s Hearth, South Bend

Tasting Styles: Meads, Ciders and Wines

Meeting Agenda

  •  Start Meeting
  •  Education Topic:

Techniques For Making Award-Winning Ciders And Meads

Presented by John Raczkowski

  •  Feedback Tasting of Monthly Styles
  •  News

o Old Business

o New Business

  •  Feedback Tasting of Homebrews
  •  Door Prize Drawings
  •  Tasting of everything else

From the President’s Mug: Getting Excited About Ciders and Meads

April is cider and mead month at MEGA, so I thought I’d share a little history about these unique fermented beverages. As most brewers know, cider is basically unfiltered apple juice. A hard cider is apple juice that has been fermented by a process that is very similar to fermenting grapes into wine. And just like wine, different flavors can be achieved with different varieties of apples. Alcohol level can vary between 5-8%, depending on the style of cider.

Most ciders are created from a blend of apple varieties that provide the combination of sweet and tart to create a tasty cider. Hard ciders come in two basic categories, sweet and dry, and can be served straight or carbonated. The sugars from the apples will ferment out completely, resulting in a very dry cider, think a dry white wine. For a sweet cider, you will need to back sweeten before bottling or kegging. Whether sweet or dry, the cider can be served with or without carbonation.

There are also many styles or blends of ciders that you may not know about. A perry is a cider made from pears. A cyser is a combination of mead and cider. A blend of cider and beer is called a snakebite, but is also known as a Graff. This name comes from the Stephen King Dark Towers series of books. A braggot is a blend of mead and beer.

Speaking of meads, they have a long, rich, and captivating history. Mead is thought to be the oldest alcoholic beverages known to man, even predating wine. The ancient Greeks called mead, Ambrosia, or Nectar. It was believed to be the drink of the gods, and was thought to descend from the Heavens as dew, before being gathered in by the bees. It is also strongly associated with the Vikings, often thought to be the preferred drink of the Norse pantheon including Odin and Thor.

Mead  is basically honey and water that is then fermented with a yeast. Because of the vast amount of sugars found in honey, these can be quite potent drinks, ranging in alcohol levels of 8-20%. Like cider, mead can comes in styles. It may be still, carbonated or sparkling; it may be dry, semi-sweet, or sweet.

Did you know that the flavor of a mead is impacted by the type of honey? Consider that there are as many possible types of honey as there are flowering plants fertilized by bees in the world. What the bees use to spin the honey can make a great difference. There’s apple blossom honey, clover honey, buckwheat honey, tupelo honey … the list is endless. So each year the honey produced by a colony of bees will change based on the available flowering plants.

Mead ranges along an incredible continuum of flavors and variables, depending on the honey source, type of yeast used, investment in aging, combination with fruit or spice, and many other factors. Meads are often combined with berries and fruits to create amazing flavor profiles. Some examples include blueberries, blackberries, cherries, peaches, and strawberries.

If you want to learn more about making ciders and meads, plan on attending the next MEGA meeting on April 10. John Raczkowski will be discussing techniques for making award winning versions of these beverages.  John won a gold medal in Category #25: Melomel (Fruit Mead) during the 2015 National Homebrew Competition Final Round in San Diego, CA. John’s Plum Crazy Melomel (Fruit Mead) was chosen as the best among 133 final round entries in the category.  John has also placed 2nd in 26C Other Mead at the 2014 competition.

 Club News


With the move to a larger space, The Mayfest is anticipating the need for 50-75 volunteers! We prefer experienced, craft beer lovers who are willing to talk about craft beers. There will be plenty opportunities for parking attendants, ID checkers, ticket takers beer and ice expediter, as well as set-up and tear-down.

The Mayfest also needs licensed servers to help pouring beers as well as spotters around the perimeter of Kamm Island in case pirates try storm the beach head! You must be a MEGA member to volunteer for our booth – and plan on having a pouring license and donating beer. But you DON’T need to be a member to volunteer to work the Mayfest! Volunteers will work in shifts so you will get plenty of chances to sample great craft beer.

Click here to volunteer thru the MEGA sign-up or e-mail and include your experience.

-MEGA Ingredients Inventory – At the March meeting is membership voted to allow MEGA to purchase grain and hops for the purpose of members to brew beers for MEGA events.  Once the details are finalized, they will be announced.

-Big Brew Day – Aaron at Michiana Brewers Supply will be hosting Big Brew Day this year.

Big Brew Day discussion can be found here

-Bulk Grain Buy – MEGA is taking pre-orders for a bulk grain buy for those who may need grain.  We will be working with Andy at the Crooked Ewe in combining grain orders.  In order for those wanting to get brewing this spring, we are establishing a deadline of …

Bulk grain buy information and sign up can be found here

MEGA Work Shirts MEGA is working on another order of the popular MEGA Work Shirt! These shirts are great to wear at events or just to represent MEGA during your brew day.  The work shirts are Dickies-branded short sleeve blended material  (65% polyester/35% cotton, Moisture-Wicking).  Color is charcoal with gold and white MEGA logo on left chest and large on Back.  Sizes available are S, M, L, XL, 2X, 3X

Details and pre-order sign up can be found here

-MEGA Sample Glasses – MEGA is planning to place an order for sample glasses again.  At this time, we are only getting pre-orders.  We need around 32 glasses to place the order.  The price on the glass below is estimated to be $4.50 for members.  This may change at time of ordering due to promotions and quantity ordered.  This price is based on a target order of 42 glasses.  We are a little short of the needed quantity to place an order.  We are extending the sign up deadline to April 16.  If we are then unable to reach the needed quantity, we will postpone to a later date.

Details and pre-order sign up can be found here

Upcoming Events

Blue Chip Brewfest (MEGA Event)

April 30, 2016  12:00pm CST

Blue Chip Casino, Michigan City

Event discussion and sign up can be found here

Mayfest (MEGA Event)

May 7, 2016


*For the Mayfest, we will need MEGA booth volunteers (with homebrew) and also volunteers for set-up/tear-down and to work different stations at the event.

Event discussion and sign up can be found here

Science of Fermentation

May 20, 2016

ETHOS Science Center, Elkhart
Homebrewing Q&A and Competition
Event discussion and sign up can be found here

Bottlecaps & Corks Beer & Wine Competition

Big Brother Big Sisters of Elkhart County

May 21, 20.16

Wellfield Botanic Gardens, Elkhart

Homebrew Competition
Event discussion and sign up can be found here


August 27, 2016

St Joe Farm, Granger IN
1st Annual event featuring small intimate craft/homebrew festival with music and food
See event listing in calendar

Zoo Brew

October 1, 2016

Potawatomi Zoo, South Bend
MEGA will have a booth at this event
More information will provided when available


Weko Beach Brewers Festival

October 29, 2016 1pm

Weko Beach, Bridgeman, MI

More information will be provided when available


*More information regarding these events can be found on the calendar on the website