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I love when small businesses showcase their community, drawing inspiration from history, taste and culture to produce something locally relevant and unabashedly unique. I love it even more when those small business are craft brewers. Recently, during a quick visit to the Caribbean island of Grenada, I stumbled upon a specialty beer by West Indies Brewing Co. while visiting the award-winning cocoa producer Jouvay Chocolate: Chocolate Mongoose Porter.

Grenada is known as Spice Isle where the likes of cinnamon and nutmeg grow in abundance, the latter of which Grenada was the first to export throughout the world. The island is stunningly lush with every colour of green imaginable, and its volcanic soil allows for many types of plants to grow uninhibited. Our infallible guide Roger slows the car down and stretches his hand out of the window to point out another fruit or vegetable growing wild every couple of minutes. The local adage that you can’t go hungry in Grenada is starting to sink in.

Grenadians are a proud people with a distinct heritage that contains remnants of their French and English colonial history. Cocoa has been grown on the island since the early 17th century when it was a French colony, and production continued to thrive under the British, who were keen to meet the skyrocketing global demand for chocolate. Grenada is the ideal location for cocoa as it grows best within 20 degrees of the equator and the island’s fertile and volcanic soil yields some of the richest chocolate around, garnering world-wide attention: National Geographic has named it among the best in the world. Cocoa is so integrated within the culture that Grenada hosts an annual Chocolate Fest every May, which is a weeklong tribute to chocolate and its impact on all aspects of island life.

Located on the southern tip of the island in Lance aux Épines, West Indies Beer Co. came on the scene in 2014 and was the first new brewery in Grenada in over 50 years. West Indies produces a dozen or so beer styles and ciders, some mainstay and some seasonal, many of which can be sampled in its casual brewpub and beer garden. Fan favourites include the hoppy Windward IPA, Belgian Witbier Drunken Goat and the rotating fruit-forward ciders. For Grenada’s annual Chocolate Festival in 2014, West Indies Beer Co. developed a chocolatey take on its Old Mongoose Porter to celebrate the cocoa heritage of the island, and Chocolate Mongoose was born.

Jouvay began as a ‘bean to bar’ chocolate producer three years ago, taking over a property that was formerly a rum distillery run by French monks in the early 1700s. Jouvay, the Grenadian patois form of the French saying ‘jour ouvert‘, or a new day, is a cocoa co-operative of farmers keen on producing organic, sustainable and fair trade chocolate.

During our visit to Jouvay, charismatic guide Jude leads us through the shaded gardens on the property to a cocoa tree where he cuts down a vibrant orange pod with his knife and cracks it open to reveal milky white seeds. He hands us each a seed for us to taste, but not chew, and it’s surprisingly sweet and slightly sour. All stages in the chocolate production process are done on site from harvesting, fermenting, and sun-drying to roasting and tempering, while the gift shop sells the final product in many forms. It’s here where we come across West Indies’s Chocolate Mongoose.

We grab one out of the fridge, pay for it, and enthusiastically open it amidst the questioning eyes of other visitors as it’s not even 10am. Judge away, we aren’t going to pass up this opportunity. The chocolate  Porter uses local, sustainably grown cocoa nibs, resulting in a surprisingly smooth brew for its 7.2% ABV. The local cocoa gives it more of a bitter flavour than sweet, which I prefer, and overall it’s more refreshing than traditional Porters, a welcome revelation given the heat and humidity that Grenada is known for.

Jouvay Chocolate in Saint Marks Parish is open daily from 8am to 4pm and West Indies Beer Co.’s brewpub is open from noon every day.

Pure Grenada

We’d like to thank the Grenada Tourism Authority for their support during our time in Grenada and share our particular thanks to our knowledgable and friendly guide Roger. Learn more about planning your own trip to Grenada, visit Pure Grenada by following them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube