Four Peaks Brewery Co. and the nonprofit The Joy Bus are making the Valley a tastier, happier place one meal—and beer—at a time.
The two recently collaborated on The Joy Bus RAD IPA to benefit the organization that provides nutritious, chef-inspired meals to cancer patients.
It all began earlier this year when The Joy Bus’ founder, Jennifer Caraway, attended an event the brewery held for restaurateurs.
“I had been pitching this for two years now to all of the local breweries to try to do a beer together, and then to distribute it and have the proceeds fund our mission. Every local beer dude turned me down,” Caraway says.
Four Peaks Brewery Co.’s communications manager, Zach Fowle, says his team thought otherwise and followed Caraway’s direction. She told them she loves West Coast IPAs and to make it “rad.”
The brewers used Rakau, Azacca and Dr. Rudi hops to create the beer’s RAD flavor with a 6% ABV.
“It’s very drinkable,” Fowle says. “It’s not as intense as other West Coast IPAs.”
Fowle says all of the ingredients have a fruity character, similar to a tropical medley, but with a soft bitterness to it. West Coast IPAs are normally semi-bitter, clear and have a dry, citrus flavor, he adds.
The beer takes about two to three weeks to create. Procuring the ingredients, having conversations on how the beer will look or taste, and deciding the recipe can add a few weeks.
The Joy Bus RAD IPA is available at Four Peaks Brewing Co.’s Eighth Street location in Tempe. To find the beer in stores, visit fourpeaks.com/finder.
Caraway founded The Joy Bus around 2011 when her friend, Joy Seitz Butz, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Caraway says she would bring her friend treats to try to brighten her day.
“It was my way to show her that I cared about her,” Caraway says.
On days when Caraway could not visit Butz, she tried to find another service to bring Butz healthy and delicious food but was unsuccessful. That is what inspired her to create The Joy Bus.
Caraway grew up in the restaurant business but was uninformed about the benefits of healthy eating. So, she taught herself how certain foods can interact with the body during treatment.
Together, she and oncologist Dr. Dan Rubin went through The Joy Bus Diner’s menu and created options that are beneficial to consume during treatment.
The diner, which opened in 2016, is closed due to COVID-19. When it reopens, patients who are a part of its program can visit and eat meals for free, Caraway says.
“We partnered with the Case Management Society of America Arizona Chapter, and they immediately started referring patients to us,” Caraway says.
The Joy Bus delivers fresh, hot meals within one hour of the food being prepared and within 10 miles of The Joy Bus Diner. A group of 60 volunteers handle the meal delivery on Wednesdays to about 50 homes.
The majority of the patients the nonprofit serves have stage four cancer and are homebound. Caraway says the face time with the patients is vital because they’re very ill.
“Our volunteers are insanely amazing humans who took my little idea about creating rad food and turned it into this whole companionship service that is just so much cooler than I could have ever done on my own,” Caraway says.
She says one volunteer visited a patient’s husband and brought food for them while the patient was in the hospital. Another volunteer surprised a patient at the hospital.
Caraway says The Joy Bus wouldn’t be successful without the community’s help. For example, local school children help decorate bags for the meals and Farmer Frank Martin from Phoenix’s Crooked Sky Farms has been providing produce and donating since the beginning.
Caraway says she feels it is important to support the local community, which is why she was excited when Four Peaks Brewing Co. agreed to partner with her for The Joy Bus RAD IPA. A percentage of every bottle, six-pack and keg sold is being donated directly to The Joy Bus.
Four Peaks Brewing Co.
1340 E. Eighth Street, Suite 104, Tempe, fourpeaks.com
The Joy Bus Diner
3375 E. Shea Boulevard, Suite C1, Phoenix, thejoybusdiner.com