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The final resting place for imperfect fruit? Your beer

How kumquats and kiwis destined for the trash found new life in California-brewed beers.
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Courtesy of Smog City Brewing

Courtesy of Smog City Brewing

Maybe you’ve read some of the coverage of how imperfect fruit (the bruised peaches, the slightly misshapen apples) contribute to a massive amount of the world’s food waste. Two breweries have separately found ways to incorporate this “ugly fruit” into beer, and to help nonprofits while doing so.

Drake’s Brewing out of San Leandro, California, and Torrance, California’s Smog City Brewing have brewed beers with golden kiwis and kumquats, respectively, that would have otherwise ended up in the trash. Drake’s partnered with Imperfect, a CSA-type program that buys cosmetically undesirable produce and delivers it to subscribers. (A CSA, or community supported agriculture, is a program wherein consumers purchase produce directly from farmers and pick it up from the farm or have it delivered, usually on a weekly or biweekly basis.) The produce purchased through Imperfect is not only less expensive than typical CSAs, but it also generates additional revenue for farmers. Imperfect rounded up golden kiwis and delivered them to Drake’s, where barrel master Travis Camacho pureed them and added them to the brewery’s Berliner weisse, Oaklander Weisse. The beer then aged with lactobacillus and Brettanomyces to produce a tart and refreshing summer beer called Kiwi Oaklander Weisse. It tapped last Tuesday in small quantities at Drake’s Barrel House and Drake’s Dealership.

Courtesy of Smog City Brewing

Courtesy of Smog City Brewing

Smog City, for its part, teamed up with with Food Forward, a nonprofit that rounds up unused and unsold produce from farmers markets (as well as individual citizens’ fruit trees) and delivers them to the hungry and needy around Southern California. The organization found itself flush with kumquats last year, but most food banks couldn’t find a use for them; that’s when Smog City came into the picture. Brewers there created a Kumquat Saison using 800 pounds of the fruit from 15 trees, then donated proceeds back to Food Forward. (As a nice bonus, the beer won silver at GABF last year in the Belgian-style fruit beer category.) It’ll be back again at the taproom and bottle shop this year once kumquats come into season. You can read even more about the process of harvesting and blending the kumquats at Smog City’s blog.

Beer seems a natural receptacle for imperfect fruit; after all, once it’s pureed or macerated or thrown in a barrel, who cares what it looked like on the tree or vine? For what it’s worth, we don’t think those kumquats at left look half bad.

 

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