I posted a while back, explaining how I am currently living in a rural part of western Honduras, far away from luxuries like Homebrew Supply Stores or inexpensive shipping, but was looking to continue homebrewing. Now that I'm a few batches in, I thought I'd write some descriptions of what we've accomplished thus far, if anyone is interested.
Originally we inherited a set of equipment (plastic buckets, capper, etc.), that I assume was brought from the US at some point. Ingredients were always going to be a problem, but my friend who made a visit to the US was able to bring back the first set. Because that's all finite, and I also wasn't entirely comfortable with the equipment, we've been working in 2.5 gallon batches.
Batch #1 - No Importa Porter
2 lbs Light DME
1.5 lbs Dark DME
8 oz Chocolate Malt
0.75 oz Cascade Hops
I think this is about as simple as beer recipes get. Unfortunately, as we mixed and fermented, we realized a critical error - we had no bottle caps! Actually, we managed to scrounge up about 8, hardly enough to bottle 2.5 gallons of beer, and only realized the glass bottles we had stockpiled were, in fact, twist off. Such rookie mistakes.
So what was the solution? Pop bottles, of course. At least, all we could find at that moment, which still wasn't quite enough. Attempting to cap a twist-off bottle with a non twist off top seemed to work, so we exhausted our supply of caps, only to have beer remained. Finally getting desperate, a few were bottled by recapping with the original twist off top. All in all the final product was a ragtag bunch:
How did it taste? Its probably not surpising that a few ended up contaminated. It may be surpising, however, that most actually tasted quite good. Not competition-winning good, but I've-lived-in-Honduras-for-a-year-and-this-tastes-like-real-beer good. The chocolate malt character was there, with a hint of hops, with just slightly more carbonation than was ideal. Sharing it with friends (not locals, though I hope to give some of my honduran friends beers of subsequent batches to try and introduce the idea of something that isn't a mass-produced lager), it has received such reviews as "really good for something made in Honduras," to "not all that bad." And really, what more could I ask for?
Batch #2: Resistencia Roja Irish Red
3 lbs Light DME
8 oz Crystal 60L Malt
4 oz Toasted Barley Malt
1.75 oz Cascade Hops (Boil)
Windsor Ale Yeast
The name of this beer is somewhat a tribute to the Rebel Red brewed at the Franciscan Well Brewery in Cork, Ireland, however making it much more significant to the politics of Honduras following its 2009 coup d'etat (or the golpe, as its fondly or not-so fondly referred to here).
Another simple recipe, though here I crossed into some unexplored territory. We hadn't bought any roasted barley, just a quantity of the Crystal malt. Some quick research led me to believe it wasn't to difficult to toast the barley at home. However most normal sane people would toast their barley in an oven, which may be common in the rest of the world, but aren't used to much here in Honduras, where everything tends to be cooked on stovetop, often with woodburning stoves. We were fortunate enough to have an electric stove, but no oven to speak of. Why not roast it on the stovetop then?
The barley darkened quickly, and started to smell really good. Careful not to let it burn, I was fairly impressed with how it turned out. After boiling it with the other grain, it imparted an excellent red color.
After a few weeks of fermenting, it had developed what I originally feared was a case of outright contamination. The majority was cloudy, almost resembling orange. We nonetheless carried on (was there any other choice?), and proceeded with bottling. Measuring the gravity told us it was only at 1.006 (though I'm suspicious of the hydrometer). In a uplifting twist of fate, however, tasting the small bit used to measure gravity turned out quite pleasant, a nice beer taste, mostly dominated by the toasted barley. Rejuvinated, we bottled, and the beer should be ready to drink soon.
Batch #2: Hay Disculpe IPA
2.5 lbs Light DME
1 lb Amber DME
8 oz Crystal 60L Malt
1.5 oz Cascade Hops (Boil)
0.5 oz Cascade Hops (Post-Boil)
0.5 oz Cascade Hops (Dry Hop)
This was todays beer, again simple, going in the fermenter momentarily. Hoping to go for a stronger, hoppier ale, but that will be seen.