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Home brew in Havana

November 23, 2012

I visited a neighbourhood bar in Havana. It’s not your usual bar, rather, I’d describe it as a sort of ‘community bar’. As previously reported Cubans can operate businesses from their home or rent space in other people’s home for small businesses. Such is the case here. One guy has a license to run the business from the bottom floor of his apartment building where he has set up a sidewalk bar and rents the patio at the top of the building for social events, parties and the like. He collects fruit and produce from around his neighbourhood and brews in on site. He makes various wines and spirits such as vermouth (the spirit in Martinis) and sake. It isn’t rough backyard brew but a little better than that, drinkable stuff alright. I estimate he might have 1000 litres or more on the brew when we visited. Imagine that much George brewed cider. I bet Baz and co and salivating at the thought. Fear not chaps, there will enough delicious cider for you to consume.

The pictures show his brews in various stages. The brewer does not have access to airlocks for his carboys so he uses what is available, condoms. The condom sits on top of the carboy and fills with carbon dioxide as the ingredients turn to alcohol. The carbon dioxide is vented through a small home in the top of the condoms. A bit of kiwi ingenuity practised in Cuba, or, in permaculture terms, using appropriate technology to do the job given what is available.

I think this venture works on all levels. Produce is collected from the neighbourhood and turned into decent drink. The alcohol can counted in months brewed rather than miles travelled. Local can relax in a social atmosphere with mates and neighbours and enjoy a reasonably priced drink. They are encouraged to drink responsibly or not bother returning. Several families receive income from the venture in various ways, be it payment for produce or renting spaces or sales of liquor. The state also receives taxes from the small scale enterprise. I think it might count as permaculture micro brewing.

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