In wines, most flavor comes from the grapes, that is why they have different wine regions, terroir, and vintages. Some good wines never touch oak.
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The caption at your link says it's Paul and Jean Gatza.
spray it off with the hose after every use, put in boiling wort with 15 left to go, never been an issue
I definitely think you can make good beer without any tools, but I haven't done a 10 year apprenticeship to figure out when the water is the right temp for mashing
You should go meet Michael Fairbrother in New Hampshire. He knows a thing or two about mead, and can probably help you determine quickly whether you don't like mead or just don't like crappy mead.
+100 on this...and he is always doing tastings somewhere...great stuff.