UW–Madison Arboretum brews up partnership to turn unlikely fruits into local beer

An Osage Orange in Longenecker Horticultural Gardens // Photo by Susan Day, courtesy UW-Madison

The University of Wisconsin–Madison Arboretum is partnering up with nearby brewery Funk Factory Geuzeria to take advantage of an unexpected, often overlooked fruit—the Osage orange. The pale green, lumpy, softball-sized fruit found scattered across the grounds of the Longenecker Horticultural Gardens appealed to brewery owner Levi Funk, who noticed their citrusy scent on a stroll through the gardens last autumn.

Funk reached out to David Stevens, the curator of Longenecker, who typically wouldn’t allow any sort of outside excavation but was intrigued by the idea. “I thought it fit in with what we are trying to do, which is to advance knowledge of our natural resources,” he told the University. And since Osage oranges aren’t technically endemic to the area but more ornamental for the gardens, he was willing to make an exception.

Funk Factory Geuzeria, which is known primarily for brewing sour beers, will be tapping the first two beers of the collaboration at their Madison brewery on Sunday, May 6. Funk says he’s hoping to continue partnering with Stevens to brew larger batches, as well as tap into some of their other fruits Longenecker—with over 2,500 different species of plant—has to offer.

Read more about the collaboration here.