BAYVIEW - Since 1998 Laura Martinez and her family have been in the grapefruit business but it was not until 2009 that they began selling grapefruit at farmer's markets around the Rio Grande Valley and other parts of Texas.
Laura's Grapefruit can be found in seven different farmer's markets statewide and have now grown into 3,000 grapefruit trees.
Recently Zach Petty, the brewmaster of Four Corners Brewing Co. of Dallas, visited the farm. Petty along with some other representatives of Four Corners left the farm with 30 18-pound bags of grapefruit for a new project.
“We were very excited and completely taken aback by it,” Martinez said. “We're just a small family business.”
Once back at Four Corners Petty began work on the first installment of the Queen Bee Series which will use Texas fruit in the brewing process of one of their most popular beers El Super Bee.
The decision to choose Laura's Grapefruit was because they only harvest half of their grove at the beginning of the year. The availability of the grapefruit was a timely coincidence.
El Super Bee is a saison and is a staple of Four Corners. Usually when Four Corners modifies the recipes of their beer it is released in a firkin cask which holds about 10 gallons of beer and must be entirely consumed in sitting. But with the Queen Bee Series the brewery wanted to make it a larger production.
“As we look to scale,” one of the founders of the brewery George Esquivel said. “What better place to source grapefruit than the Texas valley.”
Esquivel said distribution in the Rio Grande Valley has been in place for about two years. Since the area has been great to Four Corners, it was a great way to pay tribute so people from the North part of Texas could familiarize themselves with the RGV.
Currently Four Corners is moving to a larger venue in Dallas. Esquivel and his partners wanted to make more Queen Bee for distribution this time around but there was not enough tank capacity.
The plan is to have a Queen Bee Series with grapefruit, peach in July and a cucumber melon in August. They started with the grapefruit because it was first in season. Petty said they want to move with the seasons of each fruit to ensure the company uses only Texas grown products.
Working with grapefruit was not difficult for Petty but he admits it was time consuming. The key was removing as much of the zest from the peel so more pulp and juice was used in the brewing process. Using citrus is more common and it may be a little easier to use as a collaboration.
“It kind of depends on how you are going to add it,” Petty said. “We tend to just zest it and juice it straight into the boil.”
The Queen Bee Grapefruit Saison will be available at the end of the week at places that specialize in craft beer like University Draft House in Edinburg, Roosevelt's at 7 and Grain to Glass in McAllen. Local liquor stores like Feldman's Market Center and Holiday Wine and Liquor will carry the product as well.
“Many local establishments and craft beer drinkers have reached out to us letting us know that they are desperately awaiting the Queen's arrival,” High End Brand Manager for L&F Distributors Gaby Jones said. “I think the Valley is proud to be showcased in such a grand scale, we're very proud to be working alongside Four Corners to bring this one-of-a-kind product to the Rio Grande Valley.”