While Manta has existed since Pre-Colombian times as a trading post of the Mantas, very little historical architecture is left in the city. However, Manta has one of the strongest economies in Ecuador and functions as a bustling seaport, with abundant fishing, canning and processing industries. The city also offers a large expanse of beach, including a section filled with boat makers, and a large fish market.
All of this considered, we must be honest, our visit to Manta was solely motivated by beer (and a bit of food). Before our visit, we were in contact with Jose, who offered to give us a personalized tour of his brewery, Umiña. When we arrived in Manta, we found a hostel near the beach, and after Jose offered to pick us up and drive us to the brewery, we made our way to a local church a couple blocks away where we were supposed to meet him. It turned out that, like us, Jose actually brews in his house.
Jose welcomed into his home and quickly opened a few beers for us to share. Umiña offers a Blackberry Belgian Tripple, an Indian Passion Fruit Pale Ale, and a Criolla Porter. We had been drinking solely watered down, mass produced lagers for months now, and simply saying the names of the beer made our mouths salivate. Fortunately for us, the beers themselves were also incredible!
We started with the tripple and had to discipline ourselves to drink it slowly, and cherish the complexity of flavors, and effervescence the high alcohol content provided. It was simply delicious. We followed that with the IPA and were absolutely blown away. Maracuya (passion fruit) was already our favorite fruit from the region, but the way the hops and the tart fruit flavor complimented each other was divine. We enjoyed a second ambrosial IPA, while discussing some of our favorite beers from around the world, and comparing brewing techniques with Jose.
By the time Jose opened the porter, we were already debating how much beer we could safely carry in our packs. When we tasted the porter, our considerations doubled. The delicious, subtly dark beer, offered enough body to satisfy our porter cravings, but finished incredibly smooth.
We were equally as impressed with Jose’s brewing equipment as we were with the beer. Amid his myriad of talents, Jose has experience with welding, and had built all of his equipment himself. His arsenal included a water purification system, burners, brewing kettles with a built in cooling system, a grain mill, an impressive bottle sanitizing rig (glass is very expensive in Ecuador), and an abundance of coolers.
Visiting Jose and Umiña Brewery was a truly unique and inspiring experience. Afterwards, Jose took us on a ride around the city to tour the sites, and we even met his mother, before he dropped us off at a local restaurant famous for serving the best typical food.