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Old 01-25-2012, 04:29 PM   #1
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Default Guate Brewing

I've swapped a couple of PM's with another HBF member here in Guatemala and decided to move our conversation to a public forum for the benefit of others brewing here in Guate. Paste of most recent message thread for context below. My reply follows the quote.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pacayaforhops

Hops I import through CPX, the rest I either bought from an acquaintance that used to homebrew in Antigua (met through a mutual friend, he's since left for china on work, bought all his specialty malts and a portable thermostat fridge, cornies and gas & dispensing fittings) or make myself (home-malt 6 row or wheat). The one thing I don't make myself is malt extract, which I get from distribuidora caribe in zona 11, behind colegio italiano, but I'm weaning off of it though, last sunday was also my 1st successful AG brew, small a batch as it may be.

Re the brewery, yeah they import just about everything from belgium, water's really hard all throughout the country, so they also use water softeners, I just use salvavidas and condition with with sodium sulphate & tap water. I used to work for a company that maintained some of their equipment, so I just about took the tour myself and know a few more of the inner workings. I myself prefer higher kilned malt than the belgian 2-row they use, it gives the beer a more bready taste, sadly the 6-row I make also tastes grassier but longer conditioning takes care of that, it makes for better body and head retention without sacrificing much sugar content though and it has better conversion potential for adjuncts.

I'll be trying my hand at making epsom salts (magnesium sulphate, a bit more appropriate for english beer) in a few days (car battery electrolyte and milk of magnesia), hopefully it'll filter well and the emulsifiers will decompose with enough heat (studying chemical engineering helps).

Theres a company that sells cornies, it's listed under refrigeration on the yellow pages, can't remember the company's name though.

I'm all for a Guate-brewers group, count me in.

Originally Posted by Curtis2010

Good stuff. Do you mind if I shift our conversation to a public forum? I know there are other homebrewers in Guate who could benefit from this conversation?

Thanks,

Curtis

Wow, you do your own malting. Where do you get the grain?

The well water at my place on the Rio Dulce is super soft (about 15 PPM). It is ideal for making Pilsners, so I have been on a Pils kick this season. I plan to brew an IPA to finish off my brewing season (time to go sailing). So, will need to treat the water. I already have various minerals to treat with. I ordered these a few months back -- very small, light and inexpensive so cheap to ship. I have used these additives for making mineral water also -- quick and easy with a kegging system.

I also use CPX for small/light stuff. They get spendy for large/heavy stuff because they use shared air freight. Quick and convenient though with excellent customer service (they forward all my stuff down to the Rio via Litegua). For heavier stuff I use TRANSCARGO. Their customer service stinks, but they get bulky stuff here at very reasonable rates (most recently a full set of partial-mash ingredients for two 5 gallon batches of beer plus a few brewing toys -- total cost $35US).

I need to expand my "cerveceria" so I will definitely track down the source you mention for cornies. Also, along CA-9 about the Rio Hondo area there are a number of beverage distributors (AmBev, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Licores de Guatemala). Surely cornies can be acquired there also. I plan to stop by on my return trip to the Rio.

Even more interesting than cornies, I have dropped in and talked with the folks at Licores de Guatemala and they do sometimes sell their used wooden barrels which have been used to age Ron Zacapa Centenario and other lines of the delicious rums (surely these are the origin of the phrase "elixir of the gods"!). I plan to pick-up a couple next season and maybe try them out on a Barely Wine and a Mead (I have done a small test batch of mead with some of the locally available raw honey, which is quite light, and it was tasty...now just need to make more and age it).

What has been your experience with the extract from Distribudora Caribe? Good quality? Range of products?

Re Guate Brewers group. What do you think for a name? "Guate Brewers" is pretty obvious...maybe "Mundo Maya Mashers" and encourage others in Central America to participate. Let me know what you think.

Thanks much for the reply and the great info.

Love to have other Guate brewers chime in too!


Saludos,

Curtis
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Old 01-26-2012, 03:26 AM   #2
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The grain I get from CENMA in Villa Nueva, both 6-row and wheat (I have 5 lbs un-malted wheat right now, 2 lbs malted wheat, and 7 lbs malted 6-row, the later home malted). You do have to wash them well though, they're caked in dust by the time they get here and they are kept open with all the extraurbanas smoking them in diesel fumes (none of it comes through after being washed though, also have to watch out for grain weevils, they usually come out after washing).

I've heard of Zacapa casks being sold, I just can't justify getting one when I could use more cornies and CO2 equipment (larger tanks for CO2 for example, I carbonate with 12oz paintball tanks, a tank will usually last me 2 5 gallon batches and that's IF I don't go paintballing).

The DME I get from distribuidora caribe is probably mashed a bit high, I can't get all of the residual sweetness to go away unless I use souring bugs (not that I mind, it's perfect for british milds and bitters or darker belgian abbey ales & the "honey half&half" I brew, but it's probably not good if you're looking to brew a pilsener or pale lager). Other than that, it clears up nicely and has no tannins that I can taste and will ferment plenty well enough.

The company itself is a distributor of food additives and modified starches & sugars, so you should be able to get carragenan, pectin and other finings, plain & modified wheat, corn or rice starches for adjuncts, invert sugar, etc. and you might even be able to get hops extract (never as good as the real deal but it could do in a pinch).

Re: the group's name, "Mundo Maya Mashers" sounds kind of exclusive of everything south east of Honduras and inclusive of Mexico (not that I have anything against Mexico, hell, I have mexican born family in Mexico; I just figure there's probably enough people in DF alone to make their own HBF group). I wouldn't mind other nationalities joining, but to me it kind of takes away from the "secret club" feeling (call me a 5 year old, I don't mind) of having an all local HBF group (and when I say local I mean CA-4, no passport required for travel local; on that note how about "Cerveceros CA-4").

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Old 01-26-2012, 04:25 AM   #3
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Thanks for all the great info.

Not sure I want to get into my own malting just yet, but it is an interesting possibility for the future. It is very humid down here on the Rio (minimum 85% -- usually higher) so handling grains could be problematic (DME is great fun too).

Will definitely get some of the DME from Distribuidora Caribe and check it out. I'm thinking of British ales and Belgian recipes for next season so this may work out well. I keep a stock of imported light DME because it comes in so handy for many things -- like making starters. Will stick with this for Pilsners.

For carbonation, I have a couple of 5LB CO2 tanks that I have filled at Productos de Aire (only about Q70 to fill one). They are a large industrial gas company, but they have C02 tanks as small as 10LBs for sale. I think they find the gringo with the little 5LB tanks amusing.

I like the "Cerveceros CA-4" name. Let's go with that and I will set it up. Maybe we can find some interesting resources in the rest of the CA-4 as well.

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Old 01-27-2012, 06:18 PM   #4
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Default El grupo "Cerveceros CA-4" ya esta listo!

Just created the social group "Cerveceros CA-4" here on HBT. I used a pic of recent brew as the image for the group. It at least has a tropical background, but if anyone has a better image then please post.

So, join in and post your brewing experiences here in the CA-4. Where do you get your gear? Where do you get your ingredients?

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Old 01-27-2012, 06:24 PM   #5
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Just created the social group "Cerveceros CA-4" here on HBT. I used a pic of recent brew as the image for the group. It at least has a tropical background, but if anyone has a better image then please post.

So, join in and post your brewing experiences here in the CA-4. Where do you get your gear? Where do you get your ingredients?

--------------------------

Acaba de crear el grupo social "Cerveceros CA-4" aquí en la HBT. He utilizado una foto de la cerveza recientes como la imagen del grupo. Por lo menos, tiene un fondo tropical, pero si alguien tiene una mejor imagen, por favor mensaje.

Por lo tanto, participar y publicar sus experiencias de elaboración de la cerveza aquí en el CA-4. ¿De dónde sacas tu equipo? ¿De dónde obtiene sus ingredientes?

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Old 01-27-2012, 08:41 PM   #6
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Sounds like you guys have it pretty hard down there just trying to get supplies. Let alone the humidity & heat. dust & weavils aside. Now that's hardcore. I wonder if Fed-Ex could help you guys any?...Midwestsupplies.com uses Fed-Ex home delivery. Maybe talk to them? They do phone or e-mail.
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Old 01-28-2012, 02:07 AM   #7
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I've looked into FedEx, works out ok with smaller packages but it takes a while longer for them to come in, CPX will have them here in about 2-3 additional business days which works better for hops and liquid yeast with cold packs and if you need it delivered to your door they'll have it there next business day from when it comes in. For larger packages FedEx gets too expensive too fast, Transcargo will probably be a better option when you factor in duties and everything.

Believe you me, I've been looking into it for the past 5 years since I started out with my buckets and a cheapo capper, now if only I could scrounge enough money for a decent size mash tun, boil kettle & kegs...

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Old 01-28-2012, 04:29 PM   #8
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Both FedEx and UPS international rates are crazy expensive (as is shipping inside the US if you use The UPS Store or similar). The freight forwarding companies that service Guatemala (and there are quite a few such as CPX & Transcargo which we have mentioned) are radically cheaper. They provide a shipping address in Miami typically and then forward from there to Guate via shared space on air or surface transport.

I order most of my brewing supplies from Austin Homebrew Supply (I used to live in Austin). I have also ordered from Midwest. Both are excellent suppliers. AHS offers flat rate shipping of $7.95 within the US. I ordered ingredients recently for two 5-gallon batches plus a few other miscellaneous brewing items. Total cost from Miami to Guatemala City was $35US via Transcargo (surface transport). So, for about $43US total I got this order from Austin to Guatemala City...not too bad considering the size and weight. Costs me about another Q40 ($6) to get it down to the Rio Dulce from the City using the package service of Litegua (bus line).

Re brewing conditions here:

Due to being very mountainous, Guatemala has quite a range of climate conditions -- everything from sea-level tropical jungle to near desert conditions. Where I live in the Rio Dulce (on the Atlantic Coast) is tropical lowland at sea-level. The climate is warm (average range 65F-88F) and very humid (85-100%). Great for growing fungus, but makes storage of beer ingredients a challenge. I use a consumer grade vacuum bagger (Food Saver) and a small freezer w/external thermostat which helps a lot.

In contrast, Guatemala City, at about 5,000 feet elevation (think tropical Denver), has an average temp range of about 55-75F, mean humidity of about 65% (after all it is still the tropics). If you dug a lagering cellar somewhere in the highlands, I expect you could create excellent conditions for brewing beer.

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Old 01-30-2012, 05:18 PM   #9
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I've been brewing Pilsners this season so thought I would do something different for my last batches of the season. So, I brewed up an IPA and a ESB yesterday. Both off to very vigorous ferm...man the IPA smells great!

My water is very soft here so I took an educated guess at water treatment. Having an actual chemical profile would be nice.

Any experience with water testing labs in the City or elsewhere?

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Old 01-31-2012, 08:19 PM   #10
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A drink I like very much which is common in this part of the word (Guate & Central America) is "Rosa Jamaica" (Hibiscus sabdariffa). Parts of the flower of this hibiscus are used to make a very nice tea. We brew it up straight from the natural flower parts (not from commercial extracts). It is not only tasty, but has lots of good healthy stuff in it (good article under "Hibiscus sabdariffa" about it on Wikipedia).

I also think it would make an interesting color and flavor addition to beer. Without sugar added it has a somewhat bitter, citrusy taste and has a deep red color. It also develops a bit of a head when carbonated so might help with head retention. I have not found any specific measurements of either it's bitterness or color so I can't plug those into the recipe, but have been experimenting with adding it to beers. It seems to work well with Saaz hops, but does not go well at all with whatever hops they use in Brava Extra. Empirically I have been able to approximate how much rosa jamaica brew to add to beer -- at these levels, when added to a Pilsner, it gives a noticeable rosa jamaica flavor, nice deep red-copper color, and a head tinged with red! Now for the real test -- formulate a recipe and brew a test batch!

So, with that in mind I have been working on a recipe for "Cerveza Rosa". My goal is to brew a very mild ale because I want the Rosa Jamaica to really stand out. Therefore the underlying beer is quite tame with just a bit of Saaz hops. I plan to add the Rosa Jamaica tea to secondary. I'm interested in any feedback or suggestions you have.

Recipe below for a 5 gallon batch:

1 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) UK (3.0 SRM)
4.0 oz Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM)
5 lbs 4.0 oz AHS Extra Pale Extract (1.4 SRM)
1.00 oz Saaz AHS [2.50 %] - Boil 60.0 min
1.00 oz Saaz AHS [2.50 %] - Boil 10.0 min
1.0 pkg British Ale (White Labs #WLP005) [35.49 ml]
1.50 gal Rosa Jamaica (Secondary 0.0 mins)

I don't have numbers for Rosa Jamaica so no way to analytically factor those in, but the base numbers for the recipe are OG = 1.043, IBU's 13.8 , SRM 2.5, ABV 4.0%

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