Creating a Mayan Inspired Beer

Tikal - Gran Jaguar Pyramid

Tikal – Gran Jaguar Pyramid

After returning from a recent trip to Guatemala I was completely inspired to brew a very new and unique beer.   It wasn’t the local cerveza that inspired me, because while the Gallo (Spanish for rooster) is excellent for quenching your thirst when you are hot and sweaty, it’s not exactly flavourful.  Although they did have great red and dark lager variations but they were difficult to find outside of the capital city.  So instead I found my inspiration from the culture and people themselves.

Gallo Cervesa

Gallo Cerveza

Guatemala has a rich history and cultural roots that originate with the ancient Mayans.  The Mayans of the Petén region in the north believed in using what the rain forest provided them for food, clothing and shelter.  Before massive deforestation began to strip the land of many of it’s arboreal treasures, the areas around Tikal were filled with massive Ramon trees.  While many still remain, they aren’t as plentiful as they once were.  Thankfully there are efforts under way to change that with projects like Harmony Station.

Ramon fruit and seeds

Ramon fruit and seeds

Ramon trees have a fruit on them that is favoured by bats; they eat the leathery flesh on the outside and leave behind the seed.  It’s the seed that has some really amazing uses.  It can be roasted and ground up into flour for bread, cakes, cookies and even pancakes.  It can also be roasted a little longer and made into a hot drink powder that is a cross between hot chocolate and coffee.  It’s the latter that I thought would make an excellent addition to a beer recipe.

I thought this sort of flavour would lend itself very well to a porter base, which already has notes of coffee and chocolate in it.  Ramon seeds are filled with calcium, potassium and fibre, and many people consider it the next big superfood, so not only will it be tasty, it will make for a very healthy addition to the brew.  I was able to buy several bags of the powdered drink mix at the only facility currently making it in the town of El Remate, so I’m excited about adding to a beer recipe.

Zacapa Rum - aged 23 years.

Zacapa Rum – aged 23 years.

To kick it up an extra notch I also intend to soak some oak chips in Guatemalan Zacapa 23 year aged rum.  It’s a sweet and very smooth rum, which continually wins awards in international competitions.  I intend to add that to the secondary fermentation to give it a little extra kick and bit of barrel-aged taste.  Can’t wait to see how it turns out!

I hope the Mayans gods will smile on this new brew, I intend to toast to them with the first glass.

Cans vs. bottles: Further perspective from Steam Whistle Brewing

These are great points about beer in bottles vs cans. Both have pros and cons, but the beer in them is virtually the same.

Ben's Beer Blog

steam whistleOn Thursday, in a post I wrote about Nickel Brook’s Naughty Neighbour coming to can format, I offered up a bit of my own opinion along with the news.

In addition to a tangent about unions and my excitement that a great session ale was coming to a larger format, I offered up my two cents on why I prefer beer in cans over bottles. Among the insightful, humorous, and signature delightfully entertaining points I made in that post were my observations that cans offer the best protection against both light and oxygen and therefore offer the freshest possible means to enjoy a beer. 

Today, in response to my points, I received an email from Sybil Taylor, who is the Communications Director of Steam Whistle Brewing. Incidentally, she’s also married to one of the guys listed as a co-founder and she was the brewery’s first official employee. Sybil…

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