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.”

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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

Join us for a Wooly Pig Carnitas Cook-out!

Turn in your taxes and Join Slow Food Urban San Diego, The Linkery, Chef Jair Téllez of Laja Restaurant in the Valle de Guadalupe and Rancher Sam Woolley of Valley Center for a carnitas cook-out.  Arrive early for a presentation on this Ark of Taste recognized breed and a meet and greet with the Chef and Rancher.

Tickets are $15 for three tacos and a small draft beer or soda.  Tacos will also be sold á la carte for $4/each the day of the event.

Ark of Taste Presentation begins at 12:30 PM

We’ll see you there!

Salone del Gusto, Terra Madre and the International Congress in Italy

Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre, Slow Food’s biennial international food fair and sustainability conference concluded last week in Turin, Italy.  This year, the event was attended by Slow Food Urban San Diego’s Co-Leader, Candice Woo and the chapter’s Co-Founder, Donna McLoughlin, who were among the 200,000+ attendees – including Slow Food leaders, activists, educators and farmers – who participated in educational sessions focused on animal welfare, health, social issues and food waste and attended taste workshops featuring wine, craft beer, cheese and artisan food.  Among the speakers at the event’s opening ceremony were Alice Waters, Slow Food’s vice president, famed restaurateur and founder of the Edible Schoolyard and Nikki Henderson, Executive Director of the People’s Grocery in Oakland.

The week in Turin also hosted the International Congress, a global Slow Food gathering of 650 delegates from 95 different countries, including two delegates from Southern California.  The key event purpose was to help define the future of the organization and was led by Carlo Petrini, the founder of Slow Food and the non profit’s current president, who was re-elected for another term.  Petrini spoke about his next goals for Slow Food, or “Slow Food 2.0”, including increasing the number of food gardens being created by Slow Food chapters in Africa, expanding the work to protect biodiversity of food products around the world and growing Slow Food’s network, which is currently comprised of 1,500 international chapters.

Speakers from countries across the globe, including China, Israel, Brazil and Somalia, gave presentations on issues concerning their local food communities and U.S. delegate Michael Dimock, Slow Food Russian River founder and President of Roots of Change, proposed a motion and received the delegation’s support of the goal of Proposition 37, the Label GMO ballot initiative in California, which Slow Food Urban San Diego also supports.

 

– By Candice Woo