Hop Hands Update

Happy New Year! For those of you who don’t know. I’ve been working on re-launching an idea of mine from a few years ago, Hop Hands. A way to carry a growler of beer – classical glass, Hydroflasks, 50/50 growers, along with wine bottles and “bombers” (22 oz. beer bottles) – six different ways on a bicycle. As I gear up for 2019, I thought I would share a little update.

Hop Hands.

As one of my favorite 90s singers once said, “It is a growing process.  You can’t just like beer. You have to start somewhere and learn the different flavors.”  (If you are wondering who that singer was – it’s Isaac Hanson, of Mmmbop fame.)

Like learning to like beer, learning to run a business and navigate life is a growing process.  For those of you who don’t know, in the fall of 2017, I moved to Phnom Penh, Cambodia to work for a local non-government organization (NGO) working with victims who have been rescued from human trafficking.  At the same time, Emily was transitioning out of her role at Bridgetown Inc. Emily and her husband were looking for a new adventure. A few signatures later and I’ve become the sole owner of Hop Hands.

Most of 2018, was spent adjusting to a new culture, my new job and learning Khmer.  (Fun fact: the Khmer alphabet is the longest alphabet in the world, consisting of 74 letters.)  I was able to continue to ideate and network for relationships for Hop Hands here in Cambodia. In early 2018, I was connected to another local Cambodian NGO that works with polio victims and disadvantaged women to teach sewing skills.

VillageWorks creates more than just handicrafts.  They are really building the lives of the villagers they work with.  Behind each product they produce, you help support the whole person (or people) who helped create an amazing item.  You support their family and build up lives. This allows villagers to break free from their poverty cycle and find hope in life.

In case you were wondering, it is estimated that 26% of the adult population of Cambodia is illiterate.  18.6% of the population lives below the international poverty life of $1.25/day (USD). 31.4% of children in Cambodia received inadequate care and 36.1% of children are working in child labor.  Cambodia is also a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking.

Partnering with an organization like VillageWorks makes sense, not only for the amazing professionalism they encompass here in Cambodia but how encouraging they are to their teams to create amazing products and support one another.

On top of that in 2016, VillageWorks secured guaranteed membership from the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO).  WFTO is a global network of over 400 organizations and individuals in over 70 countries across the world.  They represent millions of artisans and farmers, most of whom are indigenous people, physically-challenged persons and women.  WFTO prescribes 10 Principles that all Fair Trade Organizations must follow in their day-to-day work and carries out monitoring to ensure these principles are upheld:

  1. Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers
  2. Transparency and Accountability
  3. Fair Trading Practices
  4. Payment of a Fair Price
  5. Ensuring no Child Labor and Forced Labor
  6. Commitment to Non Discrimination, Gender Equality and Freedom of Association
  7. Ensuring Good Working Conditions
  8. Providing Capacity Building
  9. Promoting Fair Trade
  10. Respect for the Environment

When it comes to respecting the environment, the newest version of Hop Hands does not disappoint.  Made from 85% recycled and upcycled products (basically everything but the buckles is recycled). It features the classic southeast Asian recycled fish food or cement bags that offer a little homage from the place of its creation.  Just like before the outside is made of a durable black canvas, although this canvas is sourced from scrap materials left over from larger factories in the area.

Hop Hands raw materials – ethically sourced in Cambodia.
Hop Hands prototype – ethically made and WFTO certified in Cambodia.

Examples of products used in the newest version of the Hop Hands.  Sample version of the Hop Hands, ethically sourced and made in Cambodia.

2019 is shaping up to be a good year for Hop Hands, but I need your help!

  1. Sign up here to be a beta tester.  Since growlers are in (expensive) limited supply here in Cambodia and hardly no one rides bikes in the city of Phnom Penh.  I need some amazing beta testers to help me with the next round of product testing. This means you’ll get access to the latest Hop Hands available in early 2019.
  2. Invite friends to like our Facebook and Instagram channels.  As we get ready to roll out our newest launch.  We need your help getting more beer and bike enthusiast interested in learning more about Hop Hands.
  3. Got questions?  Email me directly.  I’d love to chat about Cambodia, Hop Hands, ethical sourcing and more with you.

Once again, thank you for following the Hop Hands journey.  I hope you had an amazing holiday season and hope 2019 is just as exciting for you as it is for Hop Hands.  

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Cheers!

Jenna Forstrom

Hop Hands Founder

jenna@hophands.com

Rumblefish’s Ginger Beer – Kampot, Cambodia

What does coffee and beer have in common? There are some great beers with coffee in them for one. But what about a coffee roaster who also moonlights as a ginger beer brewer? I managed to cross paths with one such man while on vacation in Kampot, Cambodia.

On a mission to pick up good coffee for a friend back in Phnom Penh. I came across, Rumble Fish Roasters. This roaster aims to showcase the best of South East Asian coffee. They believe that every step in the coffee process from the ‘farm to the cup’ is important to ensure an outstanding final product. By placing emphasis on locally and regionally produced coffee their endeavour has helped grow the local specialty coffee market and supports the farmers and families involved. To achieve this they direct source their beans and carefully roast them at their custom roastery located in Kampot. Utilising invaluable years of experience and time honoured artisan techniques.

Rumblefish's Ginger Beer at their roastery.
Rumblefish’s Ginger Beer at their roastery.

Rumblefish’s Ginger Beer is brewed in house. Always served with a lime. It is strong and refreshing on a hot Cambodian day. I personally found it a little bitter and mixed in a spoonful of sugar from the coffee bar to make it a little sweeter and more enjoyable. It is the same recipe the owner of the coffee shop has been using for over 13 years.

On top of supporting local farmers and families. Rumblefish works with a strong team of young Khmer who all came to work for them with no prior experience and little to no English skills. With a fresh slate and a desire to learn the trade, these young Khmer are given the opportunity to experiment, grow and move up the chain at the roastery.

Kampot, Cambodia is becoming a micro hub for southeast Asian beers, with a local brewery and imported beers from just across the border of Vietnam. It is getting easier and easier to find great beer in Cambodia.

What is your favorite international beer?

Flowers Nanobrewery – Kampot, Cambodia

It’s no secret that my favorite town in Cambodia is Kampot. Whenever I have a long weekend, I try to head to Kampot with my dog to do some exploring. Cambodia doesn’t have many microbreweries, but even Kampot has its own microbrewery, Flowers Nanobrewery!

Originally from Japan, head brewmaster now calls Kampot, Cambodia home. In a country where sushi and craft beer are in low supply, Flowers Nanobrewery has both. I enjoy following them on Facebook. He constantly shows photos of fresh fish and his motorcycle loaded with brewing supplies from a recent border run to stock up on craft brewing supplies.

3 motorcycles, 20 buckets, 5kg of hops, 5kg of bottle crown caps, and 50kg of malt bag. Safely delivered to Kampot from Ha Tien, Vietnam. We’ll brew hard.

Whenever I’m in Kampot, I try to keep an eye out for their beers at local restaurants. I’ve had the chance to try two of their flagship beers:

Black Cat Boogie, this we found via Facebook post that it was available at a backpacker’s bungalow – a short walk across town and we found this sweet, yet dark, wheat porter. Black Cat Boogie is 5.9% ABV.

Duck Walk IPA, a decent IPA in a land where a good IPA is hard to find. (I used to live in Portland, Oregon, USA and hated IPAs – one year in Cambodia and I really miss good IPAs now.) Duck Walk IPA is 6.7% ABV.

Blind Lemon, which is a lemongrass pale ale, that I absolutely love. Lemongrass is easy to come by here in Cambodia and I love when breweries use locally sourced ingredients for a great craft beer. Blind Lemon is 5.3% ABV.

Blind Lemon can be found at the best Tex-Mex in Kampot, GringoLoco!

Have you ever been to Flowers Nanobrewery? What did you think of it? Ever been to Cambodia? What is your favorite brewery?

Espacio by Ecliptic [Beer Review]

Espacio Cookies!

Recently, I attended Ecliptic Brewing’s release party of their Espacio Mexican-Style Lager.  The beer was amazing.  Like a fancied up Corona, the amount of lime was pretty good.  Just enough to be noticeable.  It went really well with the tacos that were offered at the release party.  Espacio is a classic light lager, I would definitely appreciate a cold can of it on a good, hot day.  However, sometimes, Portland’s grey weather is not fashionably appropriate for a Mexican lager.

Since I’m a baker, I draw inspiration from almost anything around me.  The Espacio was no different.  After the release party, I went home and created a custom cookie that would go great with a can of Espacio on a good, hot day.  The recipe is below for you to try yourself.  The hint of chili adds to the lime already in the Espacio.

Espacio Cookies:

  • 3/4 C butter (room temp) if butter is salted omit 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 C powdered sugar
  • 1 large egg (room temp)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 3/4 C cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder (or to taste)
  1. Sift flour, salt, cocoa, cinnamon, chili powder together.
  2. Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. Add vanilla and egg to butter mixture, scrape bowl and mix until combined
  4. Slowly add dry ingredients until combined. Dough should pull off the sides of the bowl and stick to itself. If the dough sticks to sides it may be too wet, add some flour (little at a time). If the dough is crumbly it is too dry, add little bits of milk or egg white to moisten it.
  5. Press into large flat disc, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in fridge for at least 30 min.
  6. Roll out to 1/4” thickness between two pieces of parchment or wax paper (using more flour can overwork the dough) cut out desired shapes and bake on parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  7. Make sure cutouts are at least a half inch apart.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 14 minutes and let cool completely before decorating.

What is a beer you love that you would like to see a custom cookie for?  Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

 

Raspberry Wheat 2.0

I’m getting back on the brewing bicycle.  My new brew buddy, Alyssa and I decided to spend an icy Friday together while the city was shut down.  We did a re-make of my previously brewed 4th of July Red Raspberry Wheat Beer.  We made a few little changes to the recipe – some intentionally, some not.  Still excited for the beer.  Shout out to Base Camp Brewing Company‘s 2nd Anniversary Biere De Garde for providing the drinking beer for today’s adventure.

Base Camp’s 2nd Anniversary Biere De Garde

Ingredients:

  • 3.3 lb Wheat Liquid Malt Extract
  • 1 lb Light Dry Malt Extract
  • 1 lb Malted Wheat
  • 1 lb German Pilsner Malt
  • 1 lb Flaked Wheat
  • 1 oz German Huell Melon Hops
  • 1 oz Mt. Hood Hops
  • American Yeast
  • 6 bags of Trader Joe’s organic raspberries.  Downside of brewing during an ice storm.  No fresh raspberries.  I need to stock up for the summer!
  • 1/4 tsp of Irish Moss

Instructions:

  1. Heat 3 galloons of water to 160F.
  2. Steep grains for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove grains and bring water to boil.
  4. Add malts and bring to boil again.
  5. Start hop schedule.  Add Mt. Hood Hops (60 minutes).
  6. At 30 minutes add German Hallertau Hops.
  7. At 15 minutes add Irish Moss.
  8. Add raspberries to carboy.
  9. Add chilled wort.
  10. Top off to 5 gallons.
  11. Pitch yeast.

Homebrewing in the bathtub.

Have you started brewing again?  What inspired you to get going again?