Making Mead and Better Food Systems for Us All – An Interview with Golden Coast Mead CEO, Frank Golbeck

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A few years ago, Frank Golbeck came home from his eighth 16-hour workday in a row and collapsed from exhaustion on his living room floor. His wife, Theresa, came up to him and said; “Frank, you’re not happy. Look at you, just lying on the floor there miserable after work. If you had all the time, money and energy in the world, what would you do?”

Golbeck had never stopped to ask himself if he enjoyed what he was doing with his life. Prompted by his wife’s question, his mind drifted back to his early years growing up in Orange County. He often visited his grandfather’s apple farm in San Bernardino and has fond memories of watching him share his honey wine (mead), hard cider and fruit wine with customers.

During his college years studying economic development at UC Berkeley, Golbeck and some friends worked at the student organic garden and made mead to share with their friends. Those were some of his favorite moments – breaking open a bottle of home-brewed mead to kick off a dance-until-the-sunrise kind of night.

Inspired by his wife’s encouragement and the joy of recollecting such happy times in his life, Golbeck called up his college friend and fellow mead maker, Joe Colangelo (now Golden Coast Mead Director of Sales and Marketing). They brainstormed about how to turn their love of mead into a viable business plan. Quickly recognizing a need for someone to manage their finances, they reached out to Praveen Ramineni (now Golden Coast Mead CFO), and working together, developed the concept for Golden Coast Mead (of which Golbeck is now CEO).

In 2010, after sending inquiries to more than 50 local breweries and wineries, the Broomell family (of Triple B Ranches and Vesper Vineyards) was the only respondent willing to share their capacity and expertise. With Triple B’s support, the Golden Coast Mead team sold their first batch of mead in 2011.

Today, almost five years later, Golden Coast Mead is fermenting mead in their own fully licensed facility with 4,370 gallons of fermentation capacity, and they distribute their ferments to nearly 100 accounts throughout San Diego County. They also serve select locations in Orange County, Los Angeles, New York and New Jersey.

Golden Coast

So what makes Golden Coast Mead special?

Golbeck calls their process and product “magic.”

“We are capturing sunshine and turning it into something you can pour for your friends and drink together,” gushes Golbeck. “Modern mead-making is a journey of discovery and craftsmanship.  Using a combination of innovation, science and educated guesswork, we unlock layers and styles of mead that no one has ever tasted.  There is a whole spectrum of mead for us to create that runs wider and deeper than that of beer and wine, and we are proud to do it in a natural, refreshing, and balanced way with no sulfites, filtration, or forced carbonation.”

Golden Coast Mead’s signature San Diego-style mead is a result of this commitment to innovation.

“By adjusting ingredient ratios, we are able to change the body and flavor profile to make it really well suited to our San Diego climate,” says Golbeck. “By using ale yeast and less honey, we are making meads that are crisp and light instead of thick and syrupy.”

View More: http://taylorabeel.pass.us/goldencoast

An all natural product? Check. Unique flavor profiles? Check. But what about the impact Golden Coast Mead is having on the bigger ecological system in the San Diego region and beyond?

“The bees enable and inspire this whole thing,” says Golbeck. “With colony collapse disorder, we have an opportunity to right an imbalance caused by monoculture, which is harmful to bees’ fragile immune systems. We are trying to promote organic agriculture business models by helping to build the market for local, organic honey on a large scale.”

So what’s the takeaway?

Golbeck hopes Golden Coast Mead will inspire people to do what they love and share it. In turn, perhaps this will create more sustainable food systems for us all.

You can taste Golden Coast Mead’s latest brews at their tasting rooms in Oceanside and Julian, look for them at a local beer and wine store near you, or try their mead at Slow Food Urban San Diego’s “Sweet Sips” Networking Event and Screening of “More than Honey” on July 23.

View More: http://taylorabeel.pass.us/goldencoast

Photo credits @Taylor Abeel of www.sojournimagery.com

Who are we?

On the cusp of the transition to 2013, you may be asking yourself a boatload of questions pertaining to your job, your family, your hobbies. How am I making a difference? Is my job meaningful to me? How can I improve my family life in this coming year? Is crocheting for me?

The answers to those reflections buzzing around in your head can probably be summarized in a few words: love, happiness, community, health, etc. Those simple words can mean a lot of things, but constructing the connotations behind the widely understood definitions can bring you closer to others you discover feel the same way.

Organizations need to define what is important to them too. Slow Food has a few words that have brought us all together and I think the beginning of a new year is a good time to revisit our purpose. How will Good, Clean, and Fair influence your life choices in 2013?

Good:

The word good can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. For Slow Food, the idea of good means enjoying delicious food created with care from healthy plants and animals. The pleasures of good food can also help to build community and celebrate culture and regional diversity.

Clean:

When we talk about clean food, we are talking about nutritious food that is as good for the planet as it is for our bodies. It is grown and harvested with methods that have a positive impact on our local ecosystems and promotes biodiversity.

Fair:

We believe that food is a universal right. Food that is fair should be accessible to all, regardless of income, and produced by people who are treated with dignity and justly compensated for their labor.

Join SFUSD on Aug. 27th for Fair Farm Bill mixer!



We’ll be celebrating at the World Beat Cultural Center with free food, live son jarocho music, and an amazing lineup of speakers that includes a member of Cesar Chavez’s original organizing team, a leader of the San Diego urban ag movement, statewide youth organizers, and SFUSD.  

 

 

In San Diego, around California, and across the nation, communities are taking action to make healthy, sustainable and fair food more accessible and to help farmers and farmworkers make a good living. Together we can take this work to the next level. Join us on the 27th for a Fair Farm Bill mixer to kick off the final leg of the Road Trip and build power for the changes we want to see in California! 

 

WHEN:  Sat. Aug. 27th
WHERE: World Beat Cultural Center in Balboa Park
San Diego  CA 92103