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Season 1 Episode 7 - Frank Golbeck - How to Make Mead and More

Episode Length: 58 minutes, 58 seconds
Hosts: Josiah Wallingford, Frank Golbeck


CEO, Co-Founder, Head Mead Maker / UC Berkeley, Naval Officer

Frank’s love for mead started with his grandfather. 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.

Frank’s first memory of mead was at 8 years old, peeking over the back of the bar while his grandfather poured samples of mead to people. They were laughing and having a great time.

As he grew older Frank read Tolkien and Beowulf. Shakespeare and Harry Potter… Mead kept coming up in these epic tales. Then, when he was home from college, his grandfather gifted him the last bottle of his mead. 12 years aged.

Frank was in the navy after graduating from UC Berkeley and was able to collect honey from all over the world. One day, his wife asked what he would do with all of the time, money and energy in the world. He told her he wanted to make mead and share it with people. He has done just that.

Mead – What, how and why it’s the most regenerative libation on earth. Drink and heal the planet.


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).


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!


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.

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