My grandfather was a rancher and had some of the orange trees that once grew in Orange County, where he wouldn’t know what to make of its current urban sprawl. We had all sorts of citrus trees at my house and my favorite was the kumquat tree. I once ran away from home, but left a trail of kumquat peels just in case my parents wanted to find me. It went around the block.
From the day I began homebrewing, I’ve meant to pick my folks’ kumquat tree clean and make a Belgian Wit using kumquat peels instead of the traditional orange peels—give it a much more sour tang.
Kumquats, in case you’ve never had one, look like a grape covered in an orange peel but are immensely sour. They make tangerines seem like sugar cane. Heck, they even make Sour Patch Kids seem like Swedish Fish.
Adding to the list of exotic fruit beers, I’ve finally tried a kumquat beer (on the commercial level, meaning not counting the Kumquat Chocolate Porter I facilitated as a collaboration between then-aspiring pro brewers Cherry Triple Voodoo and Clara Street brewers.) Sure, there’ve been a handful of beers brewed with kumquats like Dark Horse’s wild ale, Stoudt’s wheat, and a trio from Cigar City. But the first I’ve been able to get my puckerer on is Faster Bigger Better Bolder (Gradually Quietly Steadily), the collaboration between The Bruery and Dogfish Head (a natural collab long overdue). As the name insinuates, it’s quite a mouthful! Beyond the kumquats, this thing’s got nori seaweed, chili peppers, and sesame seeds, and then they fermented it with sake yeast.
Not only is it a tidal wave of flavors, it’s also a benefit for the victims of the Japanese tsunami. Spicy like a Belgian golden but rather thin. Not dry, just not heavy. Only once it warmed up did even a suggestion of kumquats come through the veil of white pepper taste.
It’s safe to say my grandfather wouldn’t know what to make of a beer like this, either.