AMA Schramm's Mead

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We were planning it for some time, and we bought the ring together some weeks ago. It had to be sent out for resizing and when we got it back we told people. I officially asked her when she was at her desk at the meadery (according to Alyson) "like I was asking for more Star San". She said yes, so ... the ruling on the field stands, I guess.
Wow, did some re-reading of this thread. Totally forgot about her comment, good times!
 
Joined
Apr 12, 2013
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10,070
Location
Oakland, CA
Holy crap. Off to the... Mead... Store?

Edit: not on K&L. :( Where can I find your meads?
Shipping is absurdly expensive because they won't do ground unless the temperature is in a goldilocks zone that it'll functionally never hit. I keep being disappointed that no one responds when I point this out, especially given that:

1) They won't hold bottles. Wine clubs that do this hold bottles for you.
2) The alternative for Mazers is to just get it shipped in that anyway.
3) The temperature limits are kind of dumb (<70????).

Whatever. I love the mead, although the prices are getting pretty dear. If you want extra of stuff I can get it for you, if you let me know in the next few hours I can grab you some Red Agnes!
 
Joined
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Messages
423
Shipping is absurdly expensive because they won't do ground unless the temperature is in a goldilocks zone that it'll functionally never hit. I keep being disappointed that no one responds when I point this out, especially given that:

1) They won't hold bottles. Wine clubs that do this hold bottles for you.
2) The alternative for Mazers is to just get it shipped in that anyway.
3) The temperature limits are kind of dumb (<70????).

Whatever. I love the mead, although the prices are getting pretty dear. If you want extra of stuff I can get it for you, if you let me know in the next few hours I can grab you some Red Agnes!
Where do you live? Who hasn't responded to you?
 
Joined
Apr 12, 2013
Messages
10,070
Location
Oakland, CA
Where do you live? Who hasn't responded to you?
CA, I posted in the thread in the Mazer group on FB and replied to one of the e-mails. IDK who's in charge in either place.

I've tried to make it clear that I don't this find this to be, like, debilitating or anything. I can just keep on doing what I've always done (although I do wish the option for pickup/shipping was at checkout, I've had to delete my order to re-add without shipping a few times). I just find it kind of odd that you set the parameters for shipping such that very mild weather kills it (high of 74 today is our forecast high all week, can't ship). I'd be interested to see what kind of uptake you've had on shipping to CA.
 
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Messages
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CA, I posted in the thread in the Mazer group on FB and replied to one of the e-mails. IDK who's in charge in either place.

I've tried to make it clear that I don't this find this to be, like, debilitating or anything. I can just keep on doing what I've always done (although I do wish the option for pickup/shipping was at checkout, I've had to delete my order to re-add without shipping a few times). I just find it kind of odd that you set the parameters for shipping such that very mild weather kills it (high of 74 today is our forecast high all week, can't ship). I'd be interested to see what kind of uptake you've had on shipping to CA.
If you CC me: james @ schrammsmead.com, I will make sure you get a written reply via email — and you can always reach out to me directly. We get so many messages to Facebook and our "info" email that sometimes these things get buried.

I agree wholeheartedly on the checkout process on our website — it's awful to select products for shipping as you add them to the cart, it's totally backwards. It is an unfortunate residue of our alcohol e-commerce site (through Nexternal) being set up first for pickup only (instead of shipping like every other meaningful e-commerce platform). Pickups are quite unusual for e-commerce platforms dealing with alcohol — and most major wineries that we surveyed don't do it. They'll have set wine clubs with pickups (and you can buy those online) but ordering bottles a la carte online for pickup is a hassle and a half that most wineries don't want any part of. Direct to Consumer (DtC) shipping, on the other hand...

...has been amazing. We've only launched in a handful of states to start (with many more being added for the fall "wine shipping window") but the response has been phenomenal. As I've been studying DtC progress in the greater wine industry for some time now, I have been excited to launch my program for about 3 years now — and I'm very happy with how we've done so far. The parameters for shipping and the methods used throughout (as well as the software that we're using to get it done) has all been by my design — even as we've evolved into the summertime. I have to say, in terms of the quality of the product delivered through UPS — I am very happy. If I were to turn on "ground" shipping to Florida in July/August, I would be very happy in terms of the revenue collected — but NOT in terms of quality (and I think the number of unsatisfied DtC customers would be concomitantly high there). Mostly, the temperature here and at major UPS distribution centers is the issue: today we had a high of 90 degF and in Louisville it was 92 (air temp). The inside of the warehouses and trucks are often much higher — and to set your mind at ease we have audited the journey of these bottles using custom temperature data loggers shipped through the mail. The 70 degrees F mark might seem arbitrary, but this is the only control point we have by zip code (since we can query this via API calls for every zip code the package can transit through) — but please know that in the back of a UPS truck between distribution centers the temperatures are very quickly above 100 degrees under conditions of ambient temps above 70. If anything, the 70 degree mark is generous (based on the data we've collected).

Since you asked, I will share with you: the largest single percentage for sales by state have been to California (even after we tapered away from "ground" speed shipping options to many states — set by individual zones and controlled by our desired compliance requirements in a piece of software we're using called ShipCompliant). I am not a wealthy person, so I am constantly surprised by the number of orders (and re-orders) we're getting for large orders of mead shipped Next Day Air (which comes, as you probably know, with a high cost of shipping). We are currently using high-performance styrofoam shippers which aren't cheap, and we are required by UPS/Fedex to ship with "21+ signature required" which has its own added cost to delivery. We are shipping everything these days with moisture-resistant icepacks, and I've been very happy with how our team has been packing orders. I personally call every person before delivery to ensure they receive their box on the first attempt (and to resolve any issues resulting from a failure of such). So, it's been a challenge but a good one for our family, since getting our product direct to the end user results in many many upsides in terms of direct marketing engagement, new customer acquisition, etc — and it's just been fun. We will be expanding to every state in the U.S. that is reasonable in terms of fees, permits, applications, reporting, etc. I can guarantee you that California will see "ground" speed shipping options in the fall with pulp shippers (also more cost effective) — that sweet spot is mostly what wine aficionados refer to as the "wine shipping window" in the fall. We also have one in the spring, but if you were checking temperatures you will notice that I really had bad timing at launch, because we just caught the last couple weeks of the spring wine shipping window. Forgive me if I have wine-splained too much here, but I have heard from others that they use some of my posts as references — and I like to be as thorough as possible.

The DtC project has been my baby, and my baby is growing and evolving. I'm always open to additional feedback and questions as we expand the number of states we are servicing — and you folks all know how to reach me directly, I hope.

Cheers~!
-James
 
Joined
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Messages
10,070
Location
Oakland, CA
If you CC me: james @ schrammsmead.com, I will make sure you get a written reply via email — and you can always reach out to me directly. We get so many messages to Facebook and our "info" email that sometimes these things get buried.

I agree wholeheartedly on the checkout process on our website — it's awful to select products for shipping as you add them to the cart, it's totally backwards. It is an unfortunate residue of our alcohol e-commerce site (through Nexternal) being set up first for pickup only (instead of shipping like every other meaningful e-commerce platform). Pickups are quite unusual for e-commerce platforms dealing with alcohol — and most major wineries that we surveyed don't do it. They'll have set wine clubs with pickups (and you can buy those online) but ordering bottles a la carte online for pickup is a hassle and a half that most wineries don't want any part of. Direct to Consumer (DtC) shipping, on the other hand...

...has been amazing. We've only launched in a handful of states to start (with many more being added for the fall "wine shipping window") but the response has been phenomenal. As I've been studying DtC progress in the greater wine industry for some time now, I have been excited to launch my program for about 3 years now — and I'm very happy with how we've done so far. The parameters for shipping and the methods used throughout (as well as the software that we're using to get it done) has all been by my design — even as we've evolved into the summertime. I have to say, in terms of the quality of the product delivered through UPS — I am very happy. If I were to turn on "ground" shipping to Florida in July/August, I would be very happy in terms of the revenue collected — but NOT in terms of quality (and I think the number of unsatisfied DtC customers would be concomitantly high there). Mostly, the temperature here and at major UPS distribution centers is the issue: today we had a high of 90 degF and in Louisville it was 92 (air temp). The inside of the warehouses and trucks are often much higher — and to set your mind at ease we have audited the journey of these bottles using custom temperature data loggers shipped through the mail. The 70 degrees F mark might seem arbitrary, but this is the only control point we have by zip code (since we can query this via API calls for every zip code the package can transit through) — but please know that in the back of a UPS truck between distribution centers the temperatures are very quickly above 100 degrees under conditions of ambient temps above 70. If anything, the 70 degree mark is generous (based on the data we've collected).

Since you asked, I will share with you: the largest single percentage for sales by state have been to California (even after we tapered away from "ground" speed shipping options to many states — set by individual zones and controlled by our desired compliance requirements in a piece of software we're using called ShipCompliant). I am not a wealthy person, so I am constantly surprised by the number of orders (and re-orders) we're getting for large orders of mead shipped Next Day Air (which comes, as you probably know, with a high cost of shipping). We are currently using high-performance styrofoam shippers which aren't cheap, and we are required by UPS/Fedex to ship with "21+ signature required" which has its own added cost to delivery. We are shipping everything these days with moisture-resistant icepacks, and I've been very happy with how our team has been packing orders. I personally call every person before delivery to ensure they receive their box on the first attempt (and to resolve any issues resulting from a failure of such). So, it's been a challenge but a good one for our family, since getting our product direct to the end user results in many many upsides in terms of direct marketing engagement, new customer acquisition, etc — and it's just been fun. We will be expanding to every state in the U.S. that is reasonable in terms of fees, permits, applications, reporting, etc. I can guarantee you that California will see "ground" speed shipping options in the fall with pulp shippers (also more cost effective) — that sweet spot is mostly what wine aficionados refer to as the "wine shipping window" in the fall. We also have one in the spring, but if you were checking temperatures you will notice that I really had bad timing at launch, because we just caught the last couple weeks of the spring wine shipping window. Forgive me if I have wine-splained too much here, but I have heard from others that they use some of my posts as references — and I like to be as thorough as possible.

The DtC project has been my baby, and my baby is growing and evolving. I'm always open to additional feedback and questions as we expand the number of states we are servicing — and you folks all know how to reach me directly, I hope.

Cheers~!
-James
The thing is you didn't catch the spring window, I was checking repeatedly and was never able to ship ground. The fact that your releases come in throughout the year but that we only have these small windows in the spring/fall to ship just make it useless to people who can't justify spending $15/bottle to ship (oh, and Michigan fall is often the hottest time of the year in CA, Sept/Oct are far hotter here than you might expect, so we might only get an open window in, like, March). I'm not terribly surprised that some people CAN justify that, but there are one hell of a lot more of us that can't, especially given that your prices have been pretty steadily creeping up as it is.

Also, the thing that you're not grappling with is that if you don't offer direct ground shipping that's what happens anyway. I guess you can wipe your hands and say "not our problem" but the fact is that my next mead shipment is going to be coming during the summer and it's going to be experiencing these temperatures. Hell, I had my most recent Heart of Darkness leak after it ended up sitting on my porch in aseasonal heat. This is the reality you're dealing with, at least for Mazer members (who I have to imagine are your best, most reliable customers).

But whatever, it doesn't really change anything for me, I'd probably get most of it proxied anyway. I just wish we actually had the option to ship, instead of a fake option for rich people.
 
Joined
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Messages
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The thing is you didn't catch the spring window, I was checking repeatedly and was never able to ship ground. The fact that your releases come in throughout the year but that we only have these small windows in the spring/fall to ship just make it useless to people who can't justify spending $15/bottle to ship (oh, and Michigan fall is often the hottest time of the year in CA, Sept/Oct are far hotter here than you might expect, so we might only get an open window in, like, March). I'm not terribly surprised that some people CAN justify that, but there are one hell of a lot more of us that can't, especially given that your prices have been pretty steadily creeping up as it is.

Also, the thing that you're not grappling with is that if you don't offer direct ground shipping that's what happens anyway. I guess you can wipe your hands and say "not our problem" but the fact is that my next mead shipment is going to be coming during the summer and it's going to be experiencing these temperatures. Hell, I had my most recent Heart of Darkness leak after it ended up sitting on my porch in a seasonal heat. This is the reality you're dealing with, at least for Mazer members (who I have to imagine are your best, most reliable customers).

But whatever, it doesn't really change anything for me, I'd probably get most of it proxied anyway. I just wish we actually had the option to ship, instead of a fake option for rich people.
There are many variables to our shipping program that your average customer won't ever experience, but which I'd be happy to explain in detail — all of which informs our decision to not ship ground to California in July heat. I grasp fully and completely understand your position, and have since found your original email to "info" where you made the same point; to summarize: shipping ground in July to California and wherever else in the world is going to happen anyway, so Schramm's might as well do it themselves. I strongly disagree — Schramm's Mead will not ship our meads ground in seasonal heat to California, to have it sit on your porch. I'm very disappointed to hear that you had your HoD shipped to sit on your porch in the heat — for a ~$300+ 750mL equivalent bottle I can assure you that a majority of fine wine consumers would not be doing that.

We value the Mazer Club, but part of membership is being treated to an excellent education in quality — something that we take very seriously. You won't be surprised to hear that we have gone to great lengths to educate our Mazer Club on the perils of the "trunk cellar", shipping meads in heat, how to best enjoy our product, etc — since most of our MC members do not come with fine wine background, but instead have lots of experience with trading craft beer and other meads (products that for the most part don't have the same temperament, although there are notable exceptions).

Your next proxied mead shipment shouldn't come during the summer — you should have someone locally cellar it for you until the wine shipping window. Your patience will be rewarded, which is a message that you don't hear often from this new generation of FOMO-obsessed craft producers. We work very hard to make our products the best they can possibly be from beginning to end — but our responsibility to quality doesn't end once it's in the bottle.

The Mazer Club represents a small portion of our customer base and revenue, but a significant portion of our outreach and efforts (as above) — but we do it because we feel that it's worth it. I hope that I can change your mind on ground shipping in July, because (if I can) your experience will be much greater when you open that HoD bottle (or that 'Madeline' magnum) many years down the road.
 
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to summarize: shipping ground in July to California and wherever else in the world is going to happen anyway, so Schramm's might as well do it themselves.
...That's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is that having the top limit on ground be 70 degrees is not only pointlessly restrictive (I'm very familiar with the science of beer staling/aging with temperature and there's no indication whatsoever that you'll hit problems in the short term until at least 75 and, honestly, higher for a short period is fine, I have a hard time believing that mead is more sensitive than beer), but that it's completely unrealistic for non-local Mazers to meet it. Yes, obviously if it's 90 degrees out don't ship, but if it's high of 80 and low of 60? With any reasonable packaging the contents of the box won't hit 80 unless they're in the sun for a prolonged period of time. Heat just doesn't work that way (and packing materials are great thermal dampeners).

Also, if you're aware of any trustees who are willing to properly cellar the mead indefinitely until a shipping window opens up, well, you know some saints. I'm not going to ask that of anyone because it's completely unreasonable. Hell, Schramms themselves are unwilling to do it. I think that should tell you all you need to about how reasonable it is to ask. We wait for a break in a weather to something reasonable and then ship, but it's not going to be the magic two weeks in November or March that the entire route is between 30 and 70 for every second of the trip.

Anyway, whatever, like I said this doesn't end up being super important to me because I would hardly ever get things shipped straight from Schramms, but I think you would open yourself up to a lot more business (and make the process more attractive for Mazers) at no loss of quality whatsoever by broadening your criteria.
 
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...That's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is that having the top limit on ground be 70 degrees is not only pointlessly restrictive (I'm very familiar with the science of beer staling/aging with temperature and there's no indication whatsoever that you'll hit problems in the short term until at least 75 and, honestly, higher for a short period is fine, I have a hard time believing that mead is more sensitive than beer), but that it's completely unrealistic for non-local Mazers to meet it. Yes, obviously if it's 90 degrees out don't ship, but if it's high of 80 and low of 60? With any reasonable packaging the contents of the box won't hit 80 unless they're in the sun for a prolonged period of time. Heat just doesn't work that way (and packing materials are great thermal dampeners).

Also, if you're aware of any trustees who are willing to properly cellar the mead indefinitely until a shipping window opens up, well, you know some saints. I'm not going to ask that of anyone because it's completely unreasonable. Hell, Schramms themselves are unwilling to do it. I think that should tell you all you need to about how reasonable it is to ask. We wait for a break in a weather to something reasonable and then ship, but it's not going to be the magic two weeks in November or March that the entire route is between 30 and 70 for every second of the trip.

Anyway, whatever, like I said this doesn't end up being super important to me because I would hardly ever get things shipped straight from Schramms, but I think you would open yourself up to a lot more business (and make the process more attractive for Mazers) at no loss of quality whatsoever by broadening your criteria.
If the exterior ambient temperature in the air is 70 deg F, the inside of a UPS truck is higher than 70 — part of the reason the trunk cellar is such a total amateur move. If you've heard of the "hot car challenge", you'll understand. The UPS trucks between distribution centers (and the distribution centers themselves) are no different.
 
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If the exterior ambient temperature in the air is 70 deg F, the inside of a UPS truck is higher than 70 — part of the reason the trunk cellar is such a total amateur move. If you've heard of the "hot car challenge", you'll understand. The UPS trucks between distribution centers (and the distribution centers themselves) are no different.
I'm aware of that, but the contents of the box will also be much cooler than the inside of the truck, that's what I meant by packing materials being a good thermal dampener. Also, the extent of that will vary dramatically with other ambient conditions like cloud cover, duration of the day, latitude, etc.

Anyway, as a physicist interested in the science of beer aging/staling and someone who has shipped and received hundreds of boxes in all kind of weather I just don't think that making 70 a hard cutoff makes any sense. But clearly you just fundamentally disagree and don't seem to be willing to reconsider so I guess we're stuck. I just really don't get why you'd opt for a hard cutoff instead of a warning that allows informed customers to ship anyway when conditions are moderate (between 70 and 80, say).
 
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stupac2 - if you are really interested you should grab a Hobo data logger and slide it in packages to a regular trade partner to actually get a handle on the variation of temperatures while shipping. If I were still shipping regularly I'd consider it. I've always been curious what the reality of temperature variation in shipping is rather than the speculation that we have all heard. Or there may be data already out there - I haven't looked.

I'm sure that other temperature sensor options are out there - a quick search found this as well:
https://www.monnit.com/Product/MNS-9-W1-TS-ST/
 
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Messages
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stupac2 - if you are really interested you should grab a Hobo data logger and slide it in packages to a regular trade partner to actually get a handle on the variation of temperatures while shipping. If I were still shipping regularly I'd consider it. I've always been curious what the reality of temperature variation in shipping is rather than the speculation that we have all heard. Or there may be data already out there - I haven't looked.

I'm sure that other temperature sensor options are out there - a quick search found this as well:
https://www.monnit.com/Product/MNS-9-W1-TS-ST/
I think the number of variables to be able to test this in any kind of coherent manner is just too large. Off the top of my head things that can matter that you'd have no control over (outside of temperature):

1) Shipping route.
2) Transit speed.
3) Latitude of route.
4) Cloud cover.
5) Sun angle (time of day) during transit.
6) Where relative to other boxes yours is placed

And, frankly, I don't think you really need to. Place a shipper in your trunk all day, even on a relatively warm day in the sun it just doesn't get all that hot inside the shipper. Styrofoam is a great insulator! It's literally used for insulation! Hell, even if you're cheaping out and using cardboard it's still a pretty good insulator, and layers of a decent insulator and air is also a great insulator!

The idea that you'll damage a product by shipping in 75 degree heat is just ludicrous.
 
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I'm aware of that, but the contents of the box will also be much cooler than the inside of the truck, that's what I meant by packing materials being a good thermal dampener. Also, the extent of that will vary dramatically with other ambient conditions like cloud cover, duration of the day, latitude, etc.

Anyway, as a physicist interested in the science of beer aging/staling and someone who has shipped and received hundreds of boxes in all kind of weather I just don't think that making 70 a hard cutoff makes any sense. But clearly you just fundamentally disagree and don't seem to be willing to reconsider so I guess we're stuck. I just really don't get why you'd opt for a hard cutoff instead of a warning that allows informed customers to ship anyway when conditions are moderate (between 70 and 80, say).
I think the number of variables to be able to test this in any kind of coherent manner is just too large. Off the top of my head things that can matter that you'd have no control over (outside of temperature):

1) Shipping route.
2) Transit speed.
3) Latitude of route.
4) Cloud cover.
5) Sun angle (time of day) during transit.
6) Where relative to other boxes yours is placed

And, frankly, I don't think you really need to. Place a shipper in your trunk all day, even on a relatively warm day in the sun it just doesn't get all that hot inside the shipper. Styrofoam is a great insulator! It's literally used for insulation! Hell, even if you're cheaping out and using cardboard it's still a pretty good insulator, and layers of a decent insulator and air is also a great insulator!

The idea that you'll damage a product by shipping in 75 degree heat is just ludicrous.
I'm sorry to hear that you are disappointed. We'll beg to differ on the interpretation of our data and organoleptic analysis of our product (in addition to the business aspects that have been glossed over). Hope to catch you in the fall wine shipping window — cheers~!
-James
 

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