Greg Gude looked out at the field behind his giant packing facility with a disappointed look in his eye. The farmer is used to seeing so much more.
“Business is terrible,” he said as he checked out his kumquat plants.
In 1971, Gude’s dad started a farm called Kumquat Growers in Pasco County. The business ran smoothly and steadily for years. Insects and hurricanes have contributed to a recent dwindling crop.
“It’s in my blood,” the former career firefighter said. “I don’t know anything else but kumquats.”
Gude found creative ways to keep his crop at the forefront of culinary minds. He started harvesting and selling to local brewery Big Storm Brewing and the results were greater than expected.
“Other breweries do collaborations with other breweries but it’s so much fun to reach beyond that and go outside the box, said Mike Bishop, founder of Big Storm. “Am I a kumquat guy? Sure. I’ll own it. I’ll say I’m a kumquat guy.”
Big Storm’s Kumquat Raddler, a smooth, light beer, took third-place in a statewide competition in January 2017. One year later, the brewer and the farmer have a fruitful working relationship.
“Oh, I’m very proud of that. I’m very proud of the fact that Big Storm is utilizing it,” said Gude. “I’m a little bit of a beer guy. I’m definitely a kumquat beer guy.”
It takes about “a bushel and a quarter”, according to Gude, to make a five-gallon pail of puree for Bishop’s beers. The combination caught the attention of the Florida Best Beers judges. It’s the latest of Big Storm’s award-winning brews.
“Easy to drink,” said Scott Show, who has helped brew the beers for Big Storm for three years. “You can pound them back all day.”
The beer’s notoriety falls in line with the upcoming annual Kumquat Festival, which falls on the final Saturday of each January. This year’s event will be held January 27 in downtown Dade City. The event is free to the public and open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Over 400 vendors will offer kumquat-themed items, including Gude’s Kumquat Growers.
“It’s a unique fruit. It’s high in Vitamin C. It’s high in potassium. It’s exciting to talk about.”
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