Ian Marshall is a longtime friend of McMahon’s from the mountain biking community, and his small 5 acre fig and citrus farm in Boring, Oregon was part of the impetus to start Shimai-Toshi Brewing.
“I’ve been growing weird stuff, and stuff that shouldn’t grow here for maybe 10 years at home,” says Marshall, who got his first lemon and yuzu tree from Nursery One Green World in southeast Portland only about 5 years ago. “In 2017 I started thinking about how growing citrus up here could be done, and how the cost of citrus is expensive here mostly because it goes through multiple distributors and the shipping costs.
Japanese sour citrus fruits are all hardy enough to survive Oregon winters with a little protection, and because Japanese restaurants would usually spend even more exorbitant prices to have them imported, Oregon Citrus yuzu is in high demand. Out of three 100’ x 30’ greenhouses Marshall sells about 15,000 trees between figs, citrus and pomegranate. The sour fruit grows best in Oregon and Marshall is excited about growing more obscure Japanese varieties like Kabosu, Yuko, and Nansho Daidai.
In the Fall of 2019 Marshall was selling most of his Japanese citrus to Oregon restaurants like Afuri and got connected with Zoiglhaus Brewery brewmaster and owner Alan Taylor. ”We froze about 50 pounds and worked on the Lager through Spring,” selling the early batches of Yuzu Lager to Afuri but as other restaurants started requesting the beer and wanting to buy more fruit for their kitchens, Shimai-Toshi realized they would need a lot more fruit.
“We obviously had to pump the brakes and rethink how to scale with such a seasonal ingredient,” adds McMahon. “Through Ian’s network of the citrus underworld, and a ton of hours zesting thousands of pounds of fruit in the Zoiglhaus basement, we now have enough yuzu zest from current season crop in the freezer to last us through the year. We’re 100% ready on that front. *whew* !