Golden Coast Mead in Oceanside and Frank Golbeck, owner and CEO, welcomed the Women's Craft Beer Collective into "The Hive"! My first experience with mead was at a BJCP class (beer judge certification program). Going back in my notes I see that there are three mead categories, Traditional Mead, Melomel (fruit mead) and Other Mead, all with many sub-categories. So I didn't know what to expect with an entire discussion on just three ingredients but soon realized as the tastings began that the flavor profiles have endless possibilities.
The main mead style that Golden Coast Mead uses is called Show Mead (honey, water and yeast) with some Metheglin (herbs). Varieties we sampled were Prescott, California Oak, Ginger and Sour. Prescott was named for the location of the honey bees with flavors of sage and pine from the high Arizona desert. Bees only travel about 3 miles from the hive so the honey will reflect the flowers that they have pollinated. California Oak was a mead brewed with American oak chips added. Ginger mead was made with fresh grated ginger. And my favorite which was not a surprise was the sour mead! Ends up that this style is something new for Golden Coast and the works of a rouge yeast strand that I'm guessing will continue to have its way with the California Oak from time to time!! Absolutely amazing! Fermentation can take about 4-6 weeks because everything here is self carbonated not forced with CO2, and the bubble resembles the tiny bubbles in champagne. I found the statistics to be impressive with 1/3 pound of honey used to make every 16.9 oz bottle, that's 600,000 flowers and 50,000 flowers in every 2oz taster!
I would be remiss to not comment on the plight of the honey bee which has been dying off at increasingly rapid rates. This poses an enormously grave threat to human survival, since no other single animal species plays a more significant role in producing the fruits and vegetables that we humans often take for granted. Much research has been conducted and will continue to be, and I encourage everyone to support this cause.....add mead to your drink options when imbibing. Golden Coast Mead is a member of 1% for the planet which means they donate at least 1% of sales to nonprofit partners.
If you have never tried Mead before, I recommend trying Golden Coast Mead first. They can be found in bottle shops, Whole Foods as well as on line. They are really passionate about the mead they make and it really shows! Cheers! KB