April 26, 2011

For Christmas, I got my husband a subscription to Brew Your Own Magazine. When the Jan/Feb 2011 issue came out, it had an article titled, “Pulque: A Mexican Indigenous Brew” (print only). Reading it over, pulque (pronounced POOL-kay) is a quickly fermented agave plant beverage made in Mexico. Reading this article, I decided I had to give it a try before Cinco de Mayo.

First off, we had to get our hands on some agave syrup, which we found in the health food section or next to the honey in our grocery store. It has a very similar taste as honey, though it is a little bit thinner and easier to pour. The recipe called for eight pounds of agave syrup to make five gallons (25.6 oz/gallon), but since the bottles are sold in 11.75 oz, we decided to buy five bottles and make two gallons (about 29 oz/gallon).

We used this agave.

We heated about a gallon and a half of water to around 150⁰ F and added the agave. We then poured the solution into two separate gallon jugs and added some more filtered water to top off.

Normally, in Mexico, they use bacteria instead of yeast to ferment, but being where we are, we wouldn’t have access to those same bacteria, which are also usually guarded by the pulque makers. For my jug, we added some Safale US-05 yeast per the suggestion of the article. My husband, for his gallon, opened up a bottle of sour beer and added a little bit of it to his gallon in hopes that the sour beer bacteria would start the fermentation and be closer to the real thing. In Mexico, fermentation would take days, but because we had to make substitutions, we allowed for four weeks, fermenting near 68⁰ F. The article said it was, “Best if served shortly after fermenting.”

People have tried bottling pulque for export, but for some reason, pulque changes a great deal under these conditions.

So how did my pulque turn out? I’ll have to get back to you on that. Admittedly, following somebody else’s recipe, we didn’t take a hydrometer reading like we should have. Mistake. After a month, I got my one gallon out to bottle and realized the SG was at 1.050, which is where the recipe said it should have started. Either our little couple of ounces extra agave syrup really bumped up the SG, the original recipe was incorrect, or the agave syrup I used was concentrated more. I’m a little bummed, because I was hoping to have this ready by Cinco de Mayo next week, but that won’t happen. The other interesting thing is that my batch is still very much a rich brown syrup color and has not turned white like the article said pulque is.

Further Reading:


3 Responses to “Pulque”

  1. […] is a journal put out by the American Homebrewers Association. This issue even talked about pulque, which I will discuss at a different time. Unfortunately, the magazine does not publish at all […]

  2. […] now being used to make a sugar type syrup. This process was being done by natives, much like making pulque, but when the Spanish explorers/colonists arrived with their brandy making knowledge, they took it […]

  3. […] mentioned a few weeks ago that I started to make a pulque, but that I ran into difficulties in that it didn’t seem to ferment all the way out like it was […]

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