Five more Mazer Cup medals for Lost Cause, the winningest meadery of the past two years
For the second year in a row, San Diego’s own Lost Cause Meadery has won five medals from the Mazer Cup International Mead Competition, the world’s biggest judged mead contest. The accomplishment further establishes Lost Cause as one of the world’s best mead producers: only one meadery fared better at this year’s contest, and none have earned more medals in the past two years.
5328 Banks St. Ste B, San Diego
Due to covid-19, Lost Cause had to wait an extra seven months for the recognition, which included two gold medals, two silvers, and a bronze. Owners Suzanna and Billy Beltz submitted meads for the annual contest back in February, for judging originally schedule in March.
Making this year’s five medals more impressive is that Lost Cause did not re-submit any of last year’s winners. Billy Beltz adds that several of this year’s winners were particularly validating for one reason or another. Its gold-winning, oak-aged Raspberry Envie, for example, which took top honors in a dry melomel (fruited mead) category. “As a mead maker, you’re always very proud when a dry mead wins recognition,” he explains, likening it to beermakers winning accolades in the exacting pilsner category, where the slightest hint of off flavors can draw negative marks. “There’s less place to hide from producing a clean ferment,” Beltz says.
While the tart yet luscious Envie represents Beltz’s continuing experimentation with small batch meads, this year’s silver medals recognized two of Lost Cause’s regular offerings. The sweet melomel silver went to one of its most popular meads, Heavy Meadow, which features marshmallowy meadowfoam blossom honey with blackberries and red wine grapes. Another silver went to Buck It All, the first mead ever produced by Lost Cause. The traditional, semi-sweet mead is another fan favorite, highlighting buckwheat honey sourced locally, from Alpine.
The bronze medal win validated a mead that received a more conflicted response from customers. Called Chasing Alice, the metheglin (spiced mead) was flavored with, of all things, mushrooms. It was produced in collaboration with Dave Carr of Raging Cider & Mead in San Marcos, who suggested candy cap mushrooms for the concept.
“Candy cap mushrooms have an intense maple syrup aroma,” says Beltz. “You can only forage for them, they can’t be cultivated. So they’re not easy to get, and very expensive. Probably the single most expensive ingredient we’ve ever used by weight.”
Some are put off by the inclusion of mushrooms, but to be fair, candy caps aren’t your typical fungi — ice cream shops in the northern California town of Mendocino famously use them to make ice cream. For Chasing Alice, the two meadmakers paired the candy caps with meadofoam blossom honey. “The cool thing about mead,” notes Beltz, “is we can take two separate ingredients like honey or mushroom and create something that tastes like maple syrup.”
In addition to the Mazer Cup medals, the pandemic also delayed the opening of the Lost Cause’s new Bay Park location, where the meadery moved production from Miramar late last year. Both of Lost Cause’s tasting rooms — in Bay Park and Miramar — have re-opened with outdoor service only following this spring’s shutdown. And unlike breweries — which may only serve beer on the same tab as a food order, under current covid regulations — meadmakers enjoy winery status, which means mead drinkers can sample Lost Cause products without also ordering food.
Looking forward to 2021, Beltz expects Lost Cause to embrace its winery status further by expanding its production of other winery products. That includes cider and pyment — a hybrid of mead and wine. And with next year’s local grapes harvest, Beltz plans to produce Lost Cause’s first vintage of traditional wine.