Calle 20 y Avenida Circunvalación, San Pedro Sula, Cortes, Honduras
Two years of travel to visit craft breweries in both Europe & North America, seven months of construction and installation by the entire technical team and now, finally, four weeks of brewing, all along countless tastings of craft beer from all over the world. The dream of the La20 Team is finally becoming reality in the city of San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
While the construction and installation teams under the direction of Guillermo and David are still working on the last parts, basically wiring up the finishing cellar from Corosys as well as installing and connecting the Comac 1T Draft Unit all that is left will be the new beer bottling line from Comac, due in January 2019. The brewing team, under the direction from Hector, is brewing away on the 25 hl Krones Combi-Cube System. I catch up with Hector who is brewing the 9th brew today, the La20 Team is brewing La Metiche, a Belgian Wit beer inspired by great examples such as White Raskal or Allegash White but this one, La Metiche, with all local Honduran ingredients.
The brewing team is milling in wheat, some oats and even some un-malted wheat for the brew, followed by mashing in – immediately the smell of the mash fills the space and it’s clear these guys know what they are doing, the typical white foam forms in the mash tun, yep this is going to be a great wheat beer!
I walk into the cellar and smell a strong coffee note. Hector explains they also brew a Porter – Viejo Verde – that was “dry-hopped” with some local spiced coffee last night. He mentioned that in Honduras, know for its coffee, it is custom to mix spices in the coffee too while grinding the beans. I can detect some Allspice (Pimienta Gorda) and I think there is also some toasted coconut (Coco Tostado). The fermenting cellar, also designed and built by Krones, is well organized and very clean, good news. There is a distribution panel per every four fermenters and I count about 10 x 50 hl fermentation tanks.
Back in the brew house our La Metiche brew is now in the lauter tun. This beer is easy to filter, the wort looks bright and clear and runs off smooth in the kettle. While this is going on, Hector and team are preparing the dosing vessels with all the hops and spices. He mentions all is purchased here from local farmers. Maria, one of the people of Hectors brewing team, has cultivated good contacts to bring in all the ingredients that are needed. Hector and Maria clearly know what the local market has to offer, curious what else they have in mind.
I run into Jorge, craft beer aficionado and the driving force behind the La20 project and we taste together with Hector one of the previous La Metiche brews, a Wit with citrusy character and some spicy notes, a proper mild hop note – a beer that sure will work here in San Pedro with it’s hot and humid afternoons.
What’s next? Hector mentions they are dialing in the first two brands: Viejo Verde Porter and the La Metiche, the Belgian Wit. Both beers will be available soon, in draft and growlers, at their new taproom. Then he says he is moving on to his interpretation of an IPA and he is already working on his first La20 Taproom special as well. Sounds like there is lots to come! Jorge mentions they have many more beers and ideas in the works, however they want to focus on getting some great beer out first, beers that everybody in Honduras can be proud off. He continues, “Craft beer made in Honduras, by an Honduranian company with local Honduranian ingredients!” Sounds like another craft brewery part of their community.
I ask Jorge, “Was it worth the two years of travel and tasting?”
“ABSOLUTELY!!! Out of many reasons I could think of making it worthwhile, two clearly come to mind:
First, as in every relationship in life, be it personal or business, the most important thing is always the people involved. Throughout this long process, I’ve been honored to get dedicated time from extraordinary individuals whom the passionate art of brewing has helped shape them to become who they are. Different backgrounds, different cultures, but all converging in beer. From Father Issac at Spencer to Gordon at Funkwerks (just to name a few…). Everyone has truly opened their knowledge, the good, the bad and the overall experience of what has defined their breweries. So many rich conversations paired with their wonderful beers…cheers to y’all…?
Secondly, guided by Kathinka’s Superstars, this long journey has prepared the La20 team to bring Hondurans the long-awaited world class beer they deserve. Something unique and thoughtful. A beer they can truly relate to and feel proud about. Brewed with a dedicated process and highest standards, by Hondurans for Hondurans. We’re bringing to our beautiful country a share of much needed fun experiences…Vamooos Honduras!!!
Sooo…yeah Floris; it’s been one worthwhile f@#$%& cool ride!”
* #MV – Mera Verga – Honduranian slang for “damn good”
proost: [noun] “cheers!” in Flemish; usually said when drinking with friends and family.