15 trees, 800 lbs of kumquats, dozens of volunteers, 5 brewers, 5 weeks, an industrial immersion blender and a vision. If this Kumquat Saison doesn’t become your benchmark for spring beers, nothing will.
For years, we at Smog City Brewing have sought to partner with a likeminded non-profit. We participate in dozens of charitable events and support dozens of non-profits every year but the ultimate goal has been to find one that mirrored our goals, our company ethos, and felt like a kinship brand. After 3.5 years of looking, we have found a non-profit we are extremely proud to put our support and weight behind. This Saturday, Smog City and Food Forward will debut our first collaborative fruit beer, Kumquat Saison, at the sold out Spring Melt Gala Fundraiser and Smog City’s Taproom.
Food Forward is a non-profit dedicated to collecting and distributing fruit and vegetables that would otherwise go unused. The fruit is collected from people’s backyards and farmers markets, they harvest from local farmers who have an overabundance of produce and make sure that potentially wasted food is distributed to food banks and shelters across the city. Food Forward combines so many of our favorite things into one company; giving back to the community, gardening and harvesting, a family of incredible volunteers and direct contact with producers of our favorite thing: fresh food!
So why are we taking fruit from Food Forward to make beer? Well, kumquat trees happen to be a high yield/low use fruit tree…there’s not much we can do with them except appreciate their decorative aspects and (in our humble opinion) MAKE BEER. So, through the partnership with Food Forward, we are able to produce an incredibly unique beer and make good use of a fruit that often goes to waste. Plus through proceeds generated by bottle and taproom sales, we can give back. It’s a win win for all involved.
Through our combined efforts and the generosity of kumquat trees owners throughout the greater L.A. area, we have produced 20 bbl of Kumquat Saison using just about 800 lbs of locally harvested kumquats. This is 14 times more delicious Kumquat Saison than we have ever made at one time! Some trees yielded 60 lbs, some 45 lbs and one tree in Downey gave us a whopping 250 lbs of kumquats in one pick.
Let’s get to work!
250 lb pick!
This tree was planted in the early 1950’s and its owner was an avid home brewer. The fact that these kumquats were going into a beer couldn’t have made these two women happier! An homage to a great father and husband.
250 lbs of beautiful ripe kumquats.
We are thrilled to bring bottles of Kumquat Saison to market for the first time and provide awareness and generate financial proceeds to the generous and selfless folks at Food Forward; a small thanks to those who have worked tirelessly to bring these delicious orange gems to our doorstep.
So what’s it like up there in the trees?
Don’t let these elegant bottles fool you; it’s not all glam and glory…after each pick we looked like we had recently brought home a new kitten or perhaps 10 kittens and become their personal scratching posts. Scratches run long lines down our arms and hands. Soot covers our fingers and our calves ache from straining on top of a 16ft orchard ladder for that clump of perfectly ripened kumquats always just about out of reach.
Once the kumquats were harvested the work continued. All fruit that came in had to be quadruple washed with stems and leaves removed. An oversized chest freezer was purchased to house them but that quickly proved inadequate to meet the volume that continued to roll in from backyards all across the city. Kumquats were stored in the hop freezer, the employee’s kitchen freezer, and in Chris’ lab freezer. At every turn, kumquats seemed omnipresent in the brewery. It sure seemed like a good idea when we started. When it was time to process them for the beer, all of the boxes were moved to the walk-in and the smell was intoxicating. The beautiful kumquat aroma filled the walk-in with Promise.
Ready for processing!
Immersion blending 800 lbs of kumquats, one bucket at a time.
Go time! Porter, Dan and Chris spent a day blending the kumquats and adding them to the fermentor. More and more until the blended puree had reached the manway door and the guys had to call it quits. Young L.A. Saison was racked on top and the Saison yeast got back to work. Turning the sugars from the kumquats into aromas and delicious fruit character. 3 weeks later…the beer is now ready to bottle.
Kumquat Saison has proven to be one of the most labor intensive beers brewed at Smog City and considering our track record for pushing the envelop, that says a lot. Many of our beers are labors of love (Coffee Porter, Mulberry Saison, and Little Bo Pils to name a few) and require far greater manpower and time than you’d probably guess but the ultimate reward is to put into your hand a glass of beer so unique, so beautifully balanced, that the hard work speaks for itself.
We hope you seek out this collaboration beer and share it with your friends. Spread the word about Food Forward and possibly sign up your own fruit trees. We all have the opportunity to make a mark on the community and world around us, we all have an obligation to give back when we can and sometimes the smallest move can make a huge impact on someone else’s life.
So, buy a bottle, raise a glass and thank the fruit trees for their abundant fruit and Food Forward for putting these fabulous kumquats into our hands and think “Smog City ” when you enjoy this beer!
Taproom release 12-8pm
6 bottle limit/$10 per bottle
Kumquat Saison will be on tap
Sorry, no growler fills
Smog City Taproom 1901 Del Amo Blvd Ste B, Torrance, CA 90501
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Sometimes it’s the smallest gesture that can make the greatest impact.