Frank's Personal Story
Co-Founder, CEO, Head Mead Maker
I grew up in Southern California, surfing and studying, with a lot of opportunity to get involved in my community and learn from my mistakes.
In high school I organized beach cleanups and lead environmental awareness campaigns. I helped start my high school's lacrosse team and served as student body president. I love being involved and trying to make the world I experience more joyful.
I went to UC Berkeley on a Navy ROTC Scholarship. I studied International Development with a focus on India and Environmental Economics. I learned a lot about globalization and our modern economy.
I graduated and then served as a Surface Warfare Officer in the navy for four years. I learned a lot about working hard.
One day, while I was in the navy, my wife asked me what I would do with all of the time, money and energy in the world. I told her I wanted to make mead and share it with people.
I am fortunate to have the support and opportunity to do so. Every day our business is involved in crafting a comeback for the bee.
I imagine a world that is abundant and joyful. I want Golden Coast Mead to be a force that helps to make it so.
A Bit more...
Mead is magic, and we want to share that magic with everybody we can.
Take honey, mix it with water and ferment that mix. You get the oldest fermented beverage in the world.
The synergy that comes from the way mead combines our human history with craftsmanship and our connection to place, and then brings those that share it together in the hopes of making a more joyful and abundant world... this is a magical thing.
My love for mead started with my grandfather. He made mead.
He was an apple rancher in Oak Glen, California. He retired from apple ranching and stayed busy making fruit wine and hard cider, grape wine and some mead.
I was 8 years old, peeking over the back of the bar while he poured samples of mead to people. They were laughing and having a great time. I asked my grandpa what he was pouring for people and he told me it was an adult drink made from honey. I thought, "That's cool! An adult drink made from honey!" It stuck with me.
As I grew older the family sold the apple ranch and the tasting room was closed. But I read Tolkien and Beowulf. Shakespeare and Harry Potter... Mead kept coming up in these epic tales. Then, when I was home from college and visiting my grandfather, I helped him clean out the garage.
There in a box in the back of the attic in the garage was the last bottle of his mead. 12 years old. He gave it to me.
I took it to school with me and shared it with my friends. It was like sunshine and flowers in the glass. Sharing it was utter joy. The young lady I shared it with is now my wife. We decided we needed to make it for friends so we did.
As we discovered more about mead and its magic, and the way it made people dance, we decided we could start a business and sell this stuff.
We learned as we went, and still are learning. I collected honey from all over the world while I was in the navy. Acacia honey from Africa. Longan honey from Thailand. Leatherwood honey from New Zealand. Then when I came home, I saw my homeland of Southern California with new eyes.
Orange Blossom Honey! Avocado Blossom Honey! Sage and Buckwheat Honey! They all have wonderful, unique qualities and can make uniquely Southern California Meads. I had to make them into mead and share them with people.
The Meading of it all
As I experimented with mead and as my awe for the incredible qualities of honey grew, I also began to learn about the perils of Colony Collapse Disorder facing the honey bee and the ramifications this collapse would have on our whole food system.
The bees are responsible for pollinating a large proportion of the foods people like to eat (estimates vary from 10-40% of crops). Without pollination by bees, fruits and nuts and many vegetables would have to be done by hand if we wanted to keep producing them commercially.
To understand more, and to get closer to the source, I started keeping my own honey bees. I began dreaming of making mead with honey from these hives. But then I learned that it would take thousands of hives to run a viable business.
So I realized that in order to really get the message out about Colony Collapse Disorder and share the magic of quality mead with people, we would need to scale up while staying true to our core values.
So we did.
Today we're in hundreds of stores in San Diego, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Washington DC. We're growing into Orange and LA counties. Whole Foods, Cost Plus World Market, BevMo!, some Sprouts and many of the independent stores, restaurants and tap houses that sell craft beer carry our SoCal mead. We also sell online through our website and ship to 21 states (http://www.goldencoastmead.com/onlineshop/).
As a 1% for the planet company, we give 1% of our gross revenue to the Nieh Lab at UCSD towards honeybee health research and solving Colony Collapse Disorder (http://labs.biology.ucsd.edu/nieh/honeybee_health.html).
We buy 55 gallon drums of honey from the Sue Bee Honey Cooperative in Anaheim CA, about an hour away from us to keep our supply local and consistent; but we imagine shifting the whole honey industry one day, so California produced organic honey can once again become a viable industry. We imagine that this market for good honey could transform the landscape of California and turn on a whole new generation of professional, regenerative beekeepers.
We also buy small batch honey from a local beekeeper for our limited release Mirth line. We recently partnered with a start-up local apiary in an experimental affiliate beekeeper program. We are keeping a hive of our own to keep the vision of a vertically integrated apiary and meadery alive for the future.
We are incredibly lucky to get to do what we do and we look forward to sharing the fruit of our labor: delightful, authentic, good for the earth mead, with you.
The Golden Coast Mead team (from left to right): Jeff Colley, Mead Server; Michelle Polliner, Events Coordinator; Joe Connolly, Director of Production; Levy Castellon, Sales Representative; Alex Marcus, Tasting Room Manager; Chris Herr, Head of R&D; Frank Golbeck, Co-Founder & CEO; Sam Schiebold, Marketing Director. Not pictured: Praveen Ramineni, Co-Founder & CFO; Sam Limpic, Sales Representative.