WHAT IS MEAD?
Mead is alcohol which is produced by fermenting honey. It is the oldest alcoholic beverage in the world.
Mead is a whole spectrum of alcohol, so it can be light ABV, dry, and refreshing, or thick, sweet and strong, bubbly or still and any where in between with any number of additional ingredients. It is very creative, it is very versatile, it is timeless and we think it can be good for the earth (you don't need a mono-culture of barley or grapes to make it, just bees on a healthy ecosystem).
WHAT IS SAN DIEGO-STYLE MEAD?
Okay, okay, so we coined this term to describe our mead. Lighter bodied, honey forward but balanced, we make most of our meads with ale yeast, a 1-to-4 California Honey to San Diego Spring Water Ratio, and an element like oak or lactobacillus to balance the finish. We want our meads to drink like a refreshing ale or invigorating sparkling wine, we want them to spread mirth, and arouse people to the beauty of life.
HOW IS MEAD MADE?
Golden Coast Mead starts with basic ingredients: Water, Honey, and Yeast.
We begin by combining the water and the honey in a mixing tank. This enables us to achieve the correct honey-to-water ratio. When the mixture (known as "must") has the correct Brix (sugar density) we pump it into a temperature-controlled fermentation tank. During this time, we also add our yeast - the magic microorganism that parties hard. Yeast consumes the sugar found in the honey, and produces bubbles & booze (or CO2 and alcohol, technically speaking).
During the first three days, air and nutrients are added to keep the yeast healthy. While sugar is the meat & potatoes of yeast, nutrients are the fruits & veggies. Healthy yeast produces quick, clean, tasty mead. After the nutrient is added, the yeast is left alone to party away and make all the alcohol it can. Samples are taken daily to check the Brix. As the yeast eat the sugar, the density drops, and we can track the progress of the mead. As sugar is consumed, and less becomes available, the yeast die off and the yeast Valkyries take them to yeast Valhalla (the bottom of the tank).
About four weeks later, the must has turned to mead, and the batch is ready to transfer to secondary fermentation. The mead is transferred to another sealed tank, leaving much of the yeast behind. Instead of blowing off the CO2, it is captured in the tank and carbonates the mead. This is often the step where additional flavors are imbued. For example, this is when the oak chips are added for California Oak and Savage Bois.
Once the mead has reached the final Brix, we begin cold crashing. By dropping the temperature of the tank to freezing, the remaining yeast stop fermenting and fall to the bottom of the tank. This begins clarifying the mead. Clarification is finished by filtration. After running the mead through a filter, it is packaged in bottles and kegs, ready to be consumed by those deemed worthy by the gods of mead!
WHAT IS 1% FOR THE PLANET?
One Percent for the Planet is an organization and movement that encourages corporate philanthropy for the preservation and restoration of the natural environment. As an invested member of the community, Golden Coast Mead donates at least one percent of its gross revenue to Dr. Nieh’s Entomology Lab at UCSD, researching the health and preservation of the honeybees.
WHERE DOES GOLDEN COAST MEAD GET HONEY?
We started our company with the vision of sourcing honey only from small scale local beekeepers who treated every hive like the magical world of life that it is.
We imagine having three tiers of product one day, where we source honey from the big guys for everyday mead - that is well made, but approachable in price for people like us. Then, we have our Mirth line, where we partner with local beekeepers and show off the varietal of local honey we are using and the terroir at its root. Lastly, and this is the only one we haven't done but is so close to fruition, we will have estate hives where we manage every step from flower to hive to bottle. Each line will be crafted in a different way and offer a different facet of the gem that is bees and life and mead.
In order to build that vision, and make it an economically sustainable thing, we've decided to buy honey from Sue Bee, the national co-op of beekeepers that has a production plant an hour and a half away in Anaheim. In service and hope of making that vision a reality, and knowing that they have controls in place to screen and prevent adulterated and foreign honey from going through their plant, we are okay using Sue Bee honey right now.
Our CEO, Frank, wrote an entire article on our three-tier vision and how we came to the decision to use Sue Bee here.
WHAT IS OPEN SOURCE MEAD?
Open source is about giving everyone access to the knowledge needed to create value. We believe open source can create a better world. That's why on our Open Source page you will find recipes, production notes, lessons learned -- documented and shared for all to benefit from, so that more delightful and quaffable mead can be made in this world. And hopefully the bees, and those that keep them, can benefit along the way.
You can read more about this decision to go Open Source with our mead and get a Creative Commons license in our third Dispatch from the Frontier of Mead.