Friday, November 27, 2009

Agave Smoked Porter

After having my Agave Vienna Lager, Larry at our favorite tequileria, Cantina Mayahuel, hooked me up with some high quality agave nectar for my next batch. He was excited the beer featured agave but nearly was appalled that I used a grocery store branded agave source. Michelle and I did a taste test comparing Trader Joe's Organic Agave Nectar with the Cantina's secret source. Larry's agave nectar was sweeter, richer, more aromatic, and much darker than Trader Joe's.

Left: The cantina packages their agave nectar in used Los Abuelos Tequila bottles.
Right: Agave nectar pours like syrup in viscosity and color.

I will maintain the same amount of agave nectar used in the Agave Vienna (8 fluid ounces) since that volume seemed to do very well (my first attempt brewing with agave nectar was a tad over ambitious). I'm considering when to add the nectar. Knowing that heat destroys aroma and flavor when working with honey in mead, I'm considering adding the nectar at the end of the boil (just enough time to sanitize) or take the risk and add it in the primary fermenter (post chilling - not the same as chillindamos).
On another note, this will be my first attempt in brewing a smoked beer. I'm not sure why I haven't tried to do this yet. I've done some "research" on the style. Stone Brewing's Smoked Porter and Alaskan Brewing's Smoked Porter set the bar very high. I have several beer buddies that rank these beers high on their list and for good reason! Outside of drinking the research is listening to the Jamil Show's podcast on Smoked Beer (downloads mp3 of podcast) available from The Brewing Network. Jamil shares a number of insights and his award winning Smoked Robust Porter recipe using either extract or all grain.

2009 Alaskan Brewing Smoked Porter
(notice the fine etching on that pint glass!)

There are a number of considerations when using and/or smoking your own malt. I decided to go moderately on the smoked malt using 2lbs. of German Rauch malt. Jamil Zainasheff's recipe calls for 2.25lbs. of rauch malt and though I don't want to hinder the subtle flavors and aromas that the agave may also contribute, I hear the smoke flavors and aromas will mellow over time. He also suggests going easy on the smoked malt the first time, then adjusting the amount in future brews. Since his recipe calls for 2.25 pounds of rauch malt, I figure that 2 pounds is a good amount to start with.

Roasting agave piñas to develop sugars (source below).
I would love to be able to find out what the above image of roasting agave piñas would smell like. Someday, I'll make a chillindamos trip down to Tequila to find out.

Agave Smoked Porter, Brewed November 29 2009
5 Gallons, Grain/Adjunct, Single Infusion, 90 Minute Boil

7lbs. Domestic 2-Row
2lbs. German Rauch Malt
1lb. Chocolate Malt
0.25lb. Crystal Malt 60°L
0.125lb. Black Roasted Barley

152-154°F for 60min.
Raised to 165°F for Mashout

Added at the end of boil:
8 fl. ounces Secret Sourced Premium Agave Nectar

1oz. Homegrown Chinook 60min.
Whirlfloc tab 20min.
0.25oz. Hallertauer 5min.
0.25oz. Saaz 5min.
Racked on yeast bed of Winter Warmer (White Labs WLP001 California Ale Yeast)

Fermentation will take place below the lower end of WLP001's optimal range. The current house temperature ranges from 58-65°F.

Update 12/12: Racked to secondary. Current gravity is 1.012 at 66°F.

OG: 1.067 at 76°F
FG: 1.012 at 60°F
ABV: 7.5%

Image Source:
Hesse, Tobias. PICT1311.JPG. Digital image. Tequila - Wikipedia. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 28 Jan. 2006. Web. 27 Nov. 2009. .


  1. mmmm..... i would like to attend the secret chilindamos trip to tequila. i will have to coerce your secret agave source when you come to tear up the slopes in feb!

  2. How is the porter living up to expectations? Planning a brew for a similar tomorrow.

  3. Its long gone and for good reason, it was really good. It was conditioned until the end of January when I bottled out some for sharing with my homebrew club and to share at the cantina. The rest lasted just a couple of weeks after that.


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