"Life is just better when there's homebrew to be had." - Bill
On brewing days, my entire house is filled with the aromatic smell of hops. I want to swim in the scent and never again let a bottle of Red Stripe, Heineken, Dragon Stout or Guinness --the four beers that one can find in Jamaica--meet my lips. With luck, I'll never have to, because Peace Corps volunteers working in the environmental sector formed the Jamaica Homebrewers' Guild (JHG). The JHG brings us together from time to time from our respective island posts for the common good...delicious beer. A lack of good beer on the island? No problem! In true Peace Corps spirit, we will brew it ourselves, and share the skills (and beers!) with locals along the way.
Logan, a volunteer who has a long-term dream of opening a brewery, once made a fantastic blue mountain coffee porter that we are all eagerly waiting for him to make again. His love and passion of homebrewing has created ways for him to connect to his community and share a skill that he has mastered over the years. While brewing in Jamaica, he incorporates local ingredients, such as scotch bonnet peppers or rosemary, to create unique brews that make one's heart sing and sweetens the island breeze.
Ian, another volunteer/guild member, has gone beyond brewing beer to show his community how to make wine with local ingredients such as sorrel and banana. Since brew kits aren't yet available on island, one could say Ian's decision to teach locals to ferment local fruit is more accessible to locals and therefore more valuable. Ian's speciality appears to be teaching about value-added products; In addition to wine-brewing, he has been showing his community how to convert the underapperciated cocoa tree (Theobroma cacao) into mouth-watering, rich chocolate bars.
Six of us worked together to brew all of the beers for my wedding: a west coast IPA, an imperial nut brown ale and a rosemary pale ale. The homebrews were a big hit! It meant so much to me to have those brew days together, eating soup and laughing as the wort was making it's way up to a boil.
Stretching across multiple parishes, the Jamaica Homebrewers' Guild is instrumental in showing Jamaicans a side of beer that many have never before experienced. We plan to continue sharing of love of fermentation and to forever confuse shopkeepers, who---even with brief or winded explanation---cannot quite fathom why we would ever want to buy their empty beer bottles.
Hooray for yeast farts and the homebrew art! Let the beer brew and the opportunities to share it continue over our last six months of service.
If you're not into alcoholic beverages, you can always make fresh ginger ale, find out how to start a ginger bug here.
I also brew kombucha, which you can read more about here.