Dear fellow Me-Adventurers!
I think I just invented that conjunction. Thank you for joining us on the frontier of mead making. We’ve had a delightful, challenging, and inspiring couple of weeks at Golden Coast Mead. First, a number of people responded to our request for help growing Golden Coast Mead. It looks like we will have the resources we need to open the expanded tasting room and roll out the packaging for our new product line! Woohoo! We would love to hire a Sales Director and give them an effective marketing budget, which is expensive. But if anyone else wants to jump in to help us with that, that would be awesome. Please email me at FrankGolbeck@goldencoastmead.com if you’d like to learn more about opportunities to invest in Golden Coast Mead. Many thanks for your consideration.
Buzz on Bees
So, I was researching the ecological impact of mead versus the ecological impact of beer for our application to Patagonia’s $20M and Change fund a week ago. (Regrettably Patagonia asked us to reapply in a year - they will be rolling out a product in the near future that they wanted to focus on before considering mead further, but they commended us on our commitment, vision and success so far in doing what we do here.) I discovered that growing the grain for 1 pint of beer takes 769 gallons of water. That’s like one and a half jaccuzzi’s worth of water.
Mead, on the other hand, doesn’t need that much irrigation to make our magical fermentable sugar. In fact, sweet clover, one of the most abundant nectar sources for our little honey bee friends, doesn’t take any irrigation at all! Just rain, and at that, it can take less than 6 inches a year to grow. More rain is better for the nectar flow, or course but really, wow. Furthermore, clover requires no tractors or fertilizer as opposed to the monocultures of barley and hops.
Clover fields look like this:
Barley and Hops fields look like this:
And when the hop fields are harvested, they look like this:
As you can see the yellow sweet clover is much healthier. In fact, the USDA pays farmers to plant marginal land in sweet clover because it regenerates topsoil health.
So awesome! Good for the bees, good for the earth, good for the farmer, good for you the drinker! Instead of feeling bad about your pint literally killing the earth, you can feel great knowing it's making the earth healthier!
Now, of course, this rosy scenario gets very unrosy as soon as you start to think about how the beekeeping operations that work those clover fields keep their bees. But, I say to you, this is the way of the world as it is today, and we will not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. By committing our productive lives to mead and the mead industry, we also commit our productive lives to the apiculture (beekeeping) community. As we grow Golden Coast Mead, we hope to incentivize and inspire a whole new generation of beekeepers with 500-1000 hives that they keep beautifully. We hope to be able to pay these beekeepers a premium for their honey that will be raised with both the quality of the honey and the health of the bees as the primary objectives. This demand for delicious, bee healthy honey for AMAZING MEAD we hope will change the status quo of beekeeping in the US, where 80% of revenue of commercial beekeepers comes from pollination services and only 20% comes from honey production.
Let that sink in. For commercial beekeepers, honey is an after thought. It is basically a bi-product of their primary business model. We hope mead can offer an alternative business model for bee keepers, and in doing so allow them to put the health of their bees at the forefront.
How are we going to get there? Well, we’ve started by growing our own honey supply. We have a quasi-staff beekeeper who is starting her own apiary. We have an agreement with her to buy all of her honey at a fixed price so she can save her time selling it at the farmer’s market and keep taking great care of her bees.
We are also working with a huge California beekeeping operation to transition over to their honey for our main products. Now, only some of our honey will be grown in California, but honestly, that seems better to me than the stuff we can get in bulk quantities that is grown in California. We will be getting CA Orange Blossom honey from this group and we will be getting sweet yellow clover honey from North Dakota.
Whoa! You may be a bit concerned that we won’t be buying all CA sourced honey. Well, I was too, but then I started to dig into it, as I mentioned above and I decided (with input from team mates) that non-local regenerative honey was better for our mead than local extractive/destructive honey. I am open to discussion on this point (and if you’ve gotten this far in this much-longer-than-usual dispatch, then you probably have an opinion) so please, write me back and let me know what you think.
This stance will expand in the not too distant future to some amazing honeys and hopefully some incredible meads. I’m talking about organic honey from the Yucutan, on a UNESCO world heritage site. I’m talking organic, fair trade honey from Zambia sourced from ancient hives in traditional ways. And there will be more. It’s gonna bee awesome. Can’t wait to get our hands on it and share it with you.
Frontier of Mead
This is gonna bee brief.
1. The professional group for mead making in the US, the American Mead Makers Association, is getting serious about R&D. Jeff Herbert, owner of Superstition Meadery, is a one-man-tour-de-force on the AMMA board - I think he has like 5 jobs. Anyway, he recruited us (specifically Chris Herr) for the R&D Committee.
2. We are happy to share that White Labs is publishing research on their mead with ale yeast experiments as well as their nutrient load experiments. The cool thing is that we helped them design and execute these experiments. The other cool thing is that they took a pipe dream of Ken Schramm’s (the God Father of Mead) to analyze the sugar profile of a mead before fermentation and the sugar profile of the mead after fermentation using an HLPC in order to determine the sugar preferences of the ale yeast that fermented it. Pretty sweet, right? Ha. See what I did there?
Notes from the Tasting Room
We are always inventing (or innovating as the cool kids say these days) new things at the meadery. One of the results that surfaced was a beautiful mead that we’re calling Purple Monsoon. Chris, our R&D master, came up with the idea of adding purple pea flowers and cardamom to our orange blossom mead. Holy Moly. It was beautiful.
The appearance is light purple and effervescent, like a potion from a well meaning witch. Then, exotic cardamom aromas with a subtle honey backbone.
The taste: Light bodied and refreshing with a wonderful interplay of cardamom, honey, and carbonic acid. A refreshing, light, flavorful mead that pushes the category’s boundaries in all kinds of ways. All without preservatives or back sweetening/added sugars of any kind.
To me, this epitomizes the magic of what we get to do. Blend science and art to make things that no one has ever made before. THEN, WE GET TO SHARE THEM WITH YOU AND HOPEFULLY, YOU ARE DELIGHTED, THE WORLD IS A MORE BEAUTIFUL PLACE, AND WE CAN ALL FEEL BETTER knowing that we are striving together to help the bees and figure out a way to live on the earth while supporting its ability to support all life.
I love you,
P.S. Purple Monsoon Session Mead will be a special release mead for the Autumn Equinox release of the mead club (therefore will not be available any other place). There's less than a month left to sign up for this Mead Club release - so join today!
Golden Coast Mead Production Data by Golden Coast Mead, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License