Peace Corps Volunteers are sent abroad to share their skills with their host country in a specific field, but service usually ends up being so much more that just that. It’s common for PCVs to share their personal hobbies, too! From volleyball to photography, anything is game.
My boyfriend Logan serves in the environment sector here in Jamaica, but in addition to teaching kids about climate change and working with a community group to start a ginger shade house, Logan’s also teaching Jamaicans how to brew beer.
I got the opportunity to hang out with Logan and his 17-year-old neighbor, CJ, on a brew day a few months ago. Logan and CJ have brewed several batches together so far, and although CJ’s not quite of age to drink alcohol yet, he certainly does enjoy learning the process. It was especially funny to watch him taste the hops pellets (above) – his face crinkled like he was trying to pretend to enjoy eating spoiled food.
Logan uses brewing kits from the US and combines them with Jamaican ingredients to make some pretty sweet cross-cultural varietals. His brews so far include a Scotch Bonnet-Apricot Ale (a spicy Jamaican pepper that is key to making excellent jerk), a Ginger-Fevergrass (lemongrass) Pale Ale, a Coconut Brown Ale and a Blue Mountain Coffee Porter (his crown jewel – seriously the best beer I’ve ever had).
Logan has manufactured his brewing set up Peace Corps-style: using what he’s got. His beer ferments in a water storage bucket in his bathroom. He bottles in Red Stripe bottles salvaged (ok, purchased) from the local bar.
Members of Logan’s community have shown a lot of interest in learning to brew, and are interested in brewing local combinations of their own. At the beginning of his service, Logan would pass out free brews to community members after a long day on the farm. That’s one way to integrate quickly, if I do say so myself!
With plans to become a master brewer after he finishes Peace Corps, this side project is insanely relevant. Recently, Logan and another of our PCV friends, Bill, started some batches to serve at a fellow PCV’s wedding later this year (she’s getting married in her community – how cool is that??).
Peace Corps. Not what you might expect.