Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Liquor Without The Hangover - Rancho Bonanza, Ecuador

Finding quality beer in Latin America is starting to become a little easier! You may remember our trip to the brewery in Buga, Colombia to hunt down some good IPA. Two months later we managed to find a restaurant/campground/brewery outside of the gritty town of Portoviejo, Ecuador, called Rancho Bonanza. We found Rancho Bonanza thanks to our friends from The Long Way South, who stumbled upon it on TripAdvisor, while looking for a place to eat and camp for the night.

Joe (aka Joaquim), the owner of the brewery, is a German guy who moved to Ecuador 20 years ago. His beer brewing exploits started after he spent some years distilling liquor - namely whiskey. The sign outside of his distillery says "Licores sin chuchaqui" (Liquor without a hangover). My guess is that he can't say the same for his beers.

Given that Joe is German, it was no surprise that his brews lean towards the smooth and malty end of the scale - no Cascade hops for this guy! On our second visit to his brewery he offered us a taste of his latest lager. It was delicious (one of our favorites), with a stronger hop undertone than his other beers. Joe let us know that this one wasn't his favorite, as it's IBU (International Bitterness Unit) rating was a bit high, at 35. We chuckled, given most of the beers we covet in the USA have IBU ratings between 70 - 110. Lucky for us, we also have an appreciation for the more subtle beers that Joe brewed!

Joe's main business at the moment is manufacturing large scale micro brewing equipment.

During both of our visits, Joe allowed us to camp on his property for free. But as you know, nothing in life is truly free. He gave us free reign of the tap as long as we kept track of how many we drank. Joe definitely got paid.

Our second visit to the brewery happened after our 12-volt fridge developed a refrigerant leak. We immediately emailed Joe and asked him if he knew of a refrigeration technician. Sure enough, he told us he would have his guy meet us at his place anytime we wanted. Carlos was an eager and helpful technician, but was only able to get so far with fixing the fridge. He didn't have experience with 12-volt fridges, which are extremely sensitive to refrigerant charge. Carlos wanted to give up at the end of the second day, but Scott talked him into coming back the next morning. When he arrived, Scott bought Carlos' tools and finished the job himself. A+ for effort Carlos...

Joe, Carlos, and Scott on Day 1
Scott's setup, Day 3. Joe let him borrow his scale and a cool laser thermometer gun

Having Joe's place to work on the fridge was incredibly helpful. He's the type of resource that every overlander dreams of finding. We left Rancho Bonanza with a sigh of relief, as we finally had a cold fridge (after 2 weeks without one), and 2 cases of cold lager to put in it. As a side note: if anyone is looking for a good 12-volt refrigeration technician, Scott's your man!


Erika said...

Where exactly is Bonanza located??
I would appreciate the help!

Heather and Scott said...

Hi Erika, I updated the blog with a link to their website. You can find them here: http://www.hosteriaecuador.com/ubicacion.htm