We are more indebted to you than ever. Thanks to your generosity in supporting our campaign we were able to bottle, label, and begin distributing the first bottles from our meadery in Oceanside. Our new variety, the first new recipe in the last three years, is called California Oak and it is a zesty and powerful drink made from California Wildflower Honey, Palomar Mountain Spring Water, and lightly oaked with aged American Oak. We cycle it through our new brite tank to clear it up and add a touch of natural, light effervescence.
The result is a drink that reflects the agricultural landscape of Southern California and, when shared in good company, brings people together as they celebrate with an old drink made new with all local and natural ingredients. We started deliveries today and you can stay up to date on our distribution progress through our Facebook page.
Again, we can’t stress enough that without you and your support, none of this would have been possible. We are forever indebted to you for helping our company grow and for us to pursue our dreams!
In other exciting news, the San Diego Union Tribune ran a front-page article this week profiling our meadery. We were very excited that their staff thought that an article about our meadery would captivate their audience, and were completely overwhelmed by the response that we received in the last few days from those who read the article. We'll have a lot of events to announce over the next few weeks as we roll out our new product to all our accounts and celebrate San Diego Beer Week. One special event that we'd like to highlight now is an "All local" weekend hosted by Hamilton's Tavern the weekend of October 11th. We'll have both of our varietals on keg for this event and we hope to see you there!
Below is the full text of the article from this Wednesday's SD Union Tribune.
Life is sweet for honey mead makers
You may admire the ambition behind Oceanside’s Golden Coast Mead, modern makers of an ancient honey-based brew.
“Hopefully,” said co-founder Praveen Ramineni, “we can be the cool new mead guys.”
You may applaud the sense of tradition. “Mead,” said Frank Golbeck, one of Ramineni’s partners, “is the most historic beverage known to humanity.”
Still, you might question their prospects. “It’s kind of a (gutsy) move to come into San Diego, a town full of breweries, and just do meads,” said Tyson Blake, manager of O’Brien’s, a Kearny Mesa pub. “But it’s been received pretty well.”
“Pretty well” isn’t going to satisfy Team Golden Coast. This trio of 28-year-olds — the third is Joseph Colangelo — are already selling their wares in Whole Foods. And their brew is having a pop culture moment, appearing in “Game of Thrones,” the Harry Potter series and Viking-populated romance novels.
Still, Golden Coast’s goals are stunning: To do for mead what Stone did for craft beer.
“Mead has really a rich story, a deep story,” Golbeck said. “We have to start from the honey...”
“And then, “ Ramineni said, “our crazy lives intertwine.”
Growing up in Orange County, young Frank often visited his grandfather’s apple farm in San Bernardino County. The farmer made mead, a fact that stuck in the boy’s memory.
So when a high school teacher forced Frank to crack open “Beowulf,” he was startled to see this line in the Old English epic: “I have never seen mead enjoyed more in any hall on earth.”
“Beowulf” was written about 1,000 years ago, but this was far from mead’s first appearance in literature or life. The honey brew appears in the writings of Homer, Chaucer, Shakespeare. Archeologists have traced it back to China 9,000 years ago. From India to Ethiopia, it’s been the tipple of kings and commoners.
In the United States, though, it’s about as popular as Zima. There are 2,500-plus breweries and roughly 7,500 wineries in the country, but only 320 meaderies. Mead remains a foreign substance to most Americans, even those who are widely-traveled and well-educated.
Ramineni, for instance. When he reached U.C. Berkeley as a freshman in 2003, the Indian-American had never touched the stuff. Born in Texas and raised in Del Mar, the Bishop’s School graduate had even spent a year studying in India. “My parents didn’t want me to lose touch with my roots,” he explained.
But he first sampled mead during a party in Berkeley with two new friends, Navy ROTC cadets Colangelo and Golbeck.
Perhaps it was the view: Golbeck lived in a mansion with a wide porch overlooking San Francisco Bay. Perhaps it was the moment: Everyone was quaffing Golbeck’s homemade mead.
Whatever the reason, Ramineni had a revelation: “We love this. Our friends love this. We could sell this.”
After graduating from Berkeley in 2007, the trio pursued separate career paths, Golbeck and Colangelo in the Navy, Ramineni consulting on green energy projects. Mead, though, remained on their minds.
In 2010 they established Golden Coast Mead in San Diego. It was the obvious choice: Golbeck was stationed there. Ramineni was out of the country, setting up a wind farm in Chile. Colangelo? He was abroad, too.
“I was in Bagram, Afghanistan,” said Colangelo, who is now Golden State’s marketing department. “There were a lot of late night emails back and forth, a lot of conference calls, using secure lines.
“We really felt like we were working in the 21st century.”
A sip of jazz
The trio made their first professional mead at the winery of Valley Center’s Triple B Ranches. Triple B provided a home to the meadery and advice to the meadmakers. “They’ve been mentors for us,” Ramineni said. “Just an amazing opportunity.”
At first, sales dripped like slow honey. In 2011, Golden State bottles could be found in five stores.
Sometimes, an ancient product needs a 21st century boost. Colangelo, the company’s marketing department, launched an appeal on the Kickstarter Web site, asking for $19,906 in pledges to help Golden Coast expand. He succeeded — and then some. Among the 172 donors who kicked in $20,471, was Greg Koch, Stone’s co-owner.
Craft beer aficionados are among Golden Coast’s most ardent supporters. Among the 50-plus accounts that now carry this mead are O’Brien’s, Bottlecraft Beer Shop, and Neighborhood, a downtown San Diego restaurant known for its beer selections.
Still, the trio realize they need to spend more time visiting restaurants, bars and festivals to tout mead’s attributes.
“We have to educate the heck out of this product,” Ramineni said.
That’s often true of new foods and drinks, Golbeck noted. Today San Diego is now known for its bracingly bitter brews, yet the style was almost unknown here 20 years ago. Acquiring that taste took time and a lot of one-on-one explaining from people like Stone’s Koch.
“At first,” Golbeck said, “Greg had to be there whenever a person was trying that. He had to explain, ‘This is good. Here’s why.’”
Just so, that first sip of mead. “It’s like listening to jazz the first time or zydeco,” Golbeck said. “You don’t know what this is.”
Despite the best efforts of Chaucer and Shakespeare, such ignorance is shockingly common. Because its product relies on the labors of honey bees, Golden Coast donates money to scientists who are studying ways to save this species, which is being ravaged by a virulent species of mite.
Among the recipients of Golden Coast’s financial gifts: James Nieh, a UC San Diego biology professor and bee expert.
“Before I met them,” Nieh said, “I didn’t know much about mead, other than the fact that it tastes good.”
Perhaps that’s enough.