Citrus, as Arizonan as a saguaro cactus or urban sprawl (kidding… kind of). It’s even one of our “5 C’s” (citrus, cotton, copper, cattle, and climate). It’s quite abundant in Phoenix, many neighborhoods are actually former citrus groves. And boy, do they produce a lot of fruit! So much so that tons of it goes to waste.
Drive through any Phoenix neighborhood and you’ll see many oranges, lemons, grapefruit, etc. just laying there. Waiting to either rot back into the earth, to be discarded by a yard maintenance crew or maybe devoured by a pesky roof rat.
Lucky for us, Huss Brewing Company came up with a clever solution to this problem: ask their Uptown Taproom neighbors to drop off their unused citrus for CenPho Citrus IPA (CenPho = Central Phoenix).
Erin Deuble, the Central Phoenix “Husstler” reached out to all of the neighborhood associations in Uptown Phoenix to spread the word; bring us your unused citrus and it “will go into a beer that we’re making specifically for you.” They incentivized folks to drop off citrus by offering them a free beer when it came out.
This resulted in over 700 pounds of donated citrus. That’s 700 pounds of unwanted citrus that did not go to waste. That is simply awesome in my book.
Now, they didn’t need all of that fruit for the beer so they donated the rest of to St. Mary’s food bank who were hurting for citrus this season. A portion of it was also saved for their AZ Beer Week Citrus Fest for a sangria & an extra-citrused CenPho Cask beer and some lemons went next door to Scoopwells cookie dough bar to make a poppy seed cookie dough for Citrus Fest.
Honestly, I’m in love with this concept of neighborhood sourced produce. It reduces waste, is sourced locally, and in Huss’s case, practically free.
But how could brewers replicate? Well, obviously not every brewery has groves of citrus surrounding their brewery but they might have something else.
Stoic Cider did something similar with their FLG Cider. They roamed the neighborhoods of Flagstaff, AZ (a town in the mountains, a much different climate than Phoenix) to source apples from people’s yards and Northern Arizona University’s campus.
So many breweries use fruit concentrates or extracts for their beers but with some extra effort, they could be using fresh, locally sourced fruit instead. The beer is guaranteed to taste better and it’s good for the environment. It’s a no brainer!
As for CenPho, I’m pretty sure this year’s batch is all gone but don’t worry, Erin assures me that it will be back next year.