Pulque “Finished”

May 18, 2011

I 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 supposed to.  Well, I got it back out last weekend and took another hydrometer reading to find out that… the fermentation was stuck. Thing is, it dropped clear (I had a picture, but something happened to my memory card, and I couldn’t go back and take a picture of it in the jug). Pulque is supposed to kind of look like watery milk. Yup, my pulque experiment didn’t turn out like it was supposed to, but it is still very drinkable.

Since pulque is supposed to be drunk incredibly young, I went ahead and bottled it in a few swivel top bottles and a few former plastic pop bottles and placed it in the refrigerator. It is really sweet. At one point, I was considering letting it age like mead, but then it occurred to me with that much sugar that it could start fermenting again and blow a bottle. Nope, much safer bottling, refrigerating, and drinking it young.

Interestingly, the May/June 2011 Volume 34 No 3 issue of Zymurgy magazine (print only) had an article on “Ancient Homebrewing in Modern Day Mexico” written by David J. Schmidt. The article talked about tesguino,  tepache, and pulque. As far as pulque was concerned, it was a simple four paragraph write up with a “Paulqueza” Hybrid Agave Beer recipe in which they added a little bit of, um, well, they added a little bit of agave to a malt extract beer recipe. Overall, the article was tiny and lacking compared to Brew Your Own magazine, which was actually written by the same author.

In Zymurgy, Schmidt did cite that he referenced a book called Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers, written by Stephen Harrod Buhner in 1998. In Chapter 4, Sacred Indigenous Beers, there was a three pages on pulque along with a recipe. The article talked about the history of pulque, which could be where Schmidt got his story. It also talks about what the agave plant looks like and the botanical/medicinal nature of the plant. There is nothing about modern drinking of pulque. The recipe consists of three ingredients: “1 gallon agave sap, enough water to thin it to slightly than barely beer wort, yeast.” The directions then tell you how to harvest the agave, then how to thin the sap, then pitch the yeast and let it ferment for a week, bottle and cap.  I feel like there is a disconnect between the article and the recipe. The cover of the book says that Buhner is the author of Sacred Plant Medicine, so I get the feeling that Buhner is a botanist first who either just happens to brew and/or is really good at research. What little I looked at this book does not feel like he has brewed half of what he writes about (Here is another review from a blogger I follow who knows more about specialty beer brewing than I do.). I’m not impressed, and I’m not even sure it is worth my time to make a real book review out of it.

Anyway, back to pulque, I’ll have to try making it again, but I think I’ll wait until fall when I will have a little easier time controlling the temperatures, and my fridge will be empty of this batch by then and ready for the next one!


One Response to “Pulque “Finished””

  1. Hello, fellow brewer,
    I just stumbled upon this blog tonight (two years after it was written). Firstly, I’m sorry the Zymurgy article had so little information on pulque–it was devoted to three traditional Mexican brews, so space was limited. You correctly noted that the BYO article was more in-depth, being exclusively devoted to pulque.
    Also, my recipe and instructions in the BYO article were a composite from several sources–the book you mentioned; other online sources; and most importantly, information I collected from actual pulque producers in Mexico. This is why, as you noticed, my recipe is much more detailed than the scant instructions found in the “Healing Beers” book.
    Please, feel free to contact me for any other questions, critiques or suggestions. My blog is donguero.blogspot.com. And I would love to link to your blog as well.
    Happy brewing,

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