October 8, 2012

Gracias Panama, Hello Asheville

It's time to announce a big transition for me and the Local Beer Blog. Over the past few weeks, I've departed Panama and moved back to the US. Until further notice, the Local Beer Blog will be based out of BeerCity USA: Asheville, NC! Makes sense, right?

Gracias Panama

Panama, you were good to me. The tropical climate made for a year-round summer. Beaches, both Pacific and Caribbean, were easily accessible. The opportunity to experience a different culture and see a different part of the world was priceless.

I was lucky to witness a few big steps made in the beer scene there. La Rana Dorada opened it's microbrewery in February and has made a huge impression on the Panamanian nightlife since then. Canal Brew Panama starting serving at around the same time. The homebrewing hobby is starting to take off as well.

I got to learn a thing or two about beer and brewing. On the homebrew front, I got into all-grain and also learned how to make a gluten-free, grain-free ginger beer. On a larger scale, I had the fantastic experience of volunteering with La Rana Dorada's brewmaster, for which I'm extremely grateful. I helped host a beer pairing dinner in March, which was a lesson in entrepreneurship.

A few things I learned not to take for granted:
  • local homebrew supply shops 
  • IPAs
  • breweries experimenting with unusual ingredients
The most important part of the Panama experience though, was the people I had the chance to meet down there. Thank you to everyone who helped make me feel welcome in a place far from home.

Hello Asheville!

After being in Asheville for about a week, it feels so right. Sure, it's a lot colder than Panama is right now, but the people are very friendly and the mountain setting is just beautiful. It's that time of year when the leaves are starting to change. I don't think I've ever been so appreciative of the seasons.

The Beer -- where do I start? North Carolina is a great state for craft beer fans.

In my first 10 days or so in Asheville, I've enjoyed:
Highland's Kashmir IPA
(in a Wrecking Bar glass)
Here are a few things to look forward to:
  • I've been very fortunate to have an opportunity to attend the Great American Beer Festival in Denver this week as a representative of the North Carolina Brewer's Guild. I'll be pouring samples at the Guild's booth at each of the sessions. Keep an eye on Twitter for updates from the festival. Follow me, the NC Brewers Guild, and the hashtags #ncbeer and #GABF.
  • I'm currently gearing up for the 2nd Annual Homebrew for Hunger Festival. Last year's event was huge success. I'll be back again with a few gallons of homebrew to contribute to the good cause. 
  • While I'll be based in Asheville, the Local Beer Blog will remain a traveling blog. Where I go, the blog goes too. Plus, I'm increasing the number of guest posts for the blog, so keep an eye out for posts from your area as well as updates from North Carolina.
Finally, I just want to express gratitude for those who have helped me get to where I am today. I couldn't have done it alone.


The Thunderstruck Coffee Porter Release Party at
Highland Brewing Company.


  1. Welcome to Asheville!

    Are you on Google+ per chance?

    1. Thanks Sean! Yup: you can find me here I think: https://plus.google.com/u/0/101313287271254727053/posts

  2. Surprised to see you left Panama. Sorry we couldn't hook up down there before you left. I'm not certain when I'll next be in Panama but I would imagine sometime in 2013. Looking forward to investigating the advances in Craft Beer that are starting to take place in Panama.

    1. I know Meegs, but I hope to stay involved with "the scene" down there. Maybe our paths will cross elsewhere...got any festival plans lined up?

  3. Oh men! I can't believe that I found this blog just when you left Panama... I'm recently gathering information in home brewing. As you may know, not an easy hobbies down here in Panama, any beginner advice?

    I was wondering where you'd get the yeast (I wanna try the ginger beer recipe)?.. some place here in Panama or do you shipped from US?

    Thank you in advance, an congrats for your beer journey it's great to be able to read about it..

    1. Hey Omar!

      My #1 piece of advice for homebrewers in a place like Panama is to team up with other homebrewers! I can introduce you to a number of other homebrewers in Panama, so you all can join together to find ingredients and equipment. I've set up a Facebook page for Panama homebrewers: http://www.facebook.com/PanamaBrews

      Re: ginger beer: There's another way of making ginger beer where you harvest the yeast from the air. You don't have to buy yeast! Try this:

      Make the ginger "bug" by adding 2 tsp ginger & 2 tsp sugar to 1 cup of clean, chlorine-free water in a jar with a breathable cover (like a paper towel held by a rubber band). Continue adding the same amount of sugar and ginger every day until ready to brew (takes a few days for the "bug" to start bubbling). When ready, boil 15 cups water plus 2-6 inches of ginger and 1.5 cups sugar for 15 minutes. Cool, then strain mixture and add strained bug and juice of two lemons. Bottle and leave to ferment for two weeks. Refrigerate, open, and enjoy! May be very bubbly, so get ready to pour! (source: Marc Williams, http://www.botanyeveryday.com/)

      Thanks for the kind words Omar! Buena suerte!

    2. Gracias! I'll let you know how it went...

  4. Wow. Welcome in Asheville. Hope you'll enjoy your stay!