Menifee’s Craig Westerson won first place for the Traditional Mead class in the San Diego County Fair’s homebrew competition.
The batch of mead which won the award utilized Belgian ale yeast and had a slight sparkle. Westerson aged the batch for approximately two years.
“It was a traditional sweet mead,” he said.
The Belgian ale yeast was suitable for both the Traditional Mead class and the Other Mead category, and the same batch can be entered in multiple categories, so Westerson also entered some of that batch under Other Mead and won fourth place.
Last year Westerson won Best of Show for mead at the San Diego County Fair. This year Other Mead class winner David Nichols of Vista won the Best of Show award with an apple cinnamon flavored mead.
“It was strong competition,” Westerson said. “There was a lot of good stuff down there.”
The awards ceremony was June 8 but judging took place the previous weekend. Westerson didn’t judge in the Traditional Mead or Other Mead classes, but he judged in the Specialty Cider and Perry class utilizing apple and pear mead.
“I did sample some of my competition, and it was pretty darn good,” he said.
Westerson also judged the Stout beer class entries.
Westerson was raised in Manhattan Beach and has lived in Menifee since 1993. He began brewing beer in the mid-1990s and began brewing mead in the late 1990s. He also began winemaking in recent years and the San Diego County Fair also has a homemade wine contest.
“Next year I may actually enter a bottle or two,” he said. “I’m thinking about it. I’ll see how it comes out.”
Westerson also entered in two beer classes, the Smoke-flavored and Wood-aged category and the Dark Strong Ale class, with the same batch of beer, although the beer did not place in either class this year. Temecula’s Jeff Johnson took second place in the Smoke-flavored and Wood-aged
Westerson is a member of the Temecula Valley Homebrewers Association, which had been meeting at Black Market Brewery in Temecula until those facilities recently became unavailable. The association moved its monthly meetings to Pinni and Hops while changing the date to the third Monday of each month beginning June 16.