Mezcal!

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Mezcal!

Postby junkyard dawg » Mon Sep 17, 2012 11:44 am

Mezcal!

I have been wanting to try my hand at this process for some time now... I worked on acquiring everything I needed over a few years... including an agave that would be suitable to use. Well, it all finally came together when someone emailed me about taking an agave out of their front yard. Here is how it went down... :D

I dug out the plant till I could pull it out with my truck. It did not go easily. Once it came loose, I knocked all the dirt loose off the rootball and we loaded up.



a sawzall makes trimming easy.

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I cut the heart and base of the leaves into quarters and wrapped them in foil and put on my smoker for 4 days. It was low and slow most of the time.

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It came out looking like this.

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It went from smelling green and fresh to smelling smokey and like a roasted vegetable. It actually smells pretty good. I can understand the comparison to sweet potatoes.

So, its been cooked, now to cut it up...

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I think a lot of it could be cooked more, but at this point my wife is wondering why the smoker has been going for 4 days and I have yet to pull any food out of it... time to move on...

To crush it I just put it into a keg Bop and started mashing. The juice showed 8 brix.... thats low. Tequila producers typically see 14 brix at this point. Its ok, the agave is mostly going to be contributing flavor. I will boost the alcohol content with a couple of gallons of agave syrup that I have had for about 4 years.

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The agave syrup got started in a keg with the valve removed. I boiled a little water in the keg to sanitize it, added the syrup, yeast hulls, dap and adjusted ph with acid blend. Topped it off to 12 gallons and pitched Super start distillers yeast. I did this a couple of days before I even knew I was getting the agave plant. I was tired of looking at those bottles of syrup on the shelf and thought they might make a nice rum... Turns out it made an excellent yeast starter and source of alcohol for this real agave plant. This ferment had been going for a little over a week and was almost done itself when I poured the whole batch into the big fermenter with the crushed agave.

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It fermented about a week... I drained the liquid off and pressed the fibrous remains in a grape press.

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Did a stripping run with a good bit of fiber and solids in the boiler. The low wines are rich and oily and smokey and smell exactly like what I was hoping for. I'm doing the spirit run as I type. judging by the smells, its a very successful effort. It is going to be aged for a while with new charred american oak. Not a lot of oak, but enough... I'll keep this updated on the taste as it develops.

And thanks to Ian Chadwicks excellent site on tequila. Required reading if you are going to go down the agave road!

http://www.ianchadwick.com/tequila/defined.htm
Last edited by junkyard dawg on Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mezcal!

Postby rtalbigr » Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:14 pm

Great post JD. Too bad agave won't grow around here.

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Re: Mezcal!

Postby Beerswimmer » Tue Sep 25, 2012 4:48 pm

Amazing!!!
Ut Alii Vivant!!!!
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Re: Mezcal!

Postby junkyard dawg » Thu Sep 27, 2012 4:29 pm

Thanks ya'll!

The spirit is in a glass jug with some american oak cubes that I charred a bit. I ended up running about 14 gallons in a low wines stripping run and then diluted that with 3 gallons or so of the original mash that cleared up overnite. Its got a very nice color and the smell is sooo good. I have only tasted a tiny sip and its really tasting good. Its smokey and has that roasted vegetable flavor. Its similar in character to a mezcal. It has some sweet flavors that I attribute to the gallon of dark agave syrup that went into the mash. I suppose there are lots of unfermentable sugars in that syrup. It is smoky and that lingers, but its not overpowering. Its still got a serious bite to it... I used lots of tails and expect to age it for some time... Most mezcal makers add in the 'tips and tails', as they say... what we call heads and tails. In my experience, that bite will mellow over time and the true flavor of the roasted agave will come up. (that may be an acquired taste...)

All in all, I am very happy with how this came out. The yield is lousy, its not very traditional, and its a hell of a lot of work. It was a great learning experience and I'd do it again... Now I'm on the hunt for some new varieties of agave...
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Re: Mezcal!

Postby BareKnuckles » Thu Sep 27, 2012 5:23 pm

JD that is awesome!!! Makes me wanna go further south to agave land!!!! It does look like a great deal of work...
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Re: Mezcal!

Postby mash rookie » Thu Sep 27, 2012 6:20 pm

:thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:
Thanks amigo. Cant wait for a six month taste report!
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Re: Mezcal!

Postby Bushman » Thu Sep 27, 2012 6:27 pm

Nice documentation, I will be following your progress!
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Re: Mezcal!

Postby junkyard dawg » Fri Sep 28, 2012 3:48 pm

I took a second sip tonite after I got home.

:mrgreen:

I'll be honest, I have been a little afraid to drink this...

after what the sap from the leaves did to my skin when cutting it up. I blistered up and itched for days because of the juice. I had some second thoughts about drinking this. So I will go very slowly in sampling this... I took a tiny bit in the bottom of a shot glass and swirled it around and smelled it and tasted two tiny sips. I couldn't be more pleased. Still smokey, but very balanced with the roasted vegetable flavors. (that was dumb luck...) The afterburn is much less than it was a week ago... thats typical in my experience. It is a very powerful flavor and I feel very fortunate to have been able to do this. Thanks, holymackeral. You inspired this whole thing a few years ago when you described how you made traditional sotol and mezcal.

So, that burning skin... :twisted:

It is calcium oxalate crystals that are responsible. It is a well documented irritant. Its in the sap from the leaves. I couldn't find any documents detailing what happens to it in the mashing and distilling process. It was not an issue after getting the plant down to the pina, but its a killer when you are harvesting and getting to the pina. Presumably, it would not make it past the boiler into the distillate.

Interesting note, calcium oxalate is a major component of beer stone.

Thanks again for the kind words!
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Re: Mezcal!

Postby Tater » Sat Sep 29, 2012 5:42 pm

Good job JD I think this should be included in tried and true . :clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: Mezcal!

Postby junkyard dawg » Sun Sep 30, 2012 6:43 am

Thanks Tater!

You can move it if you like. I'd be honored to have a recipe up in Tried and True.
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Re: Mezcal!

Postby faste » Sat Oct 06, 2012 5:55 am

Awesome post, pictures are great as well as the write up. I'd love to try it one day, sounds like yours is going to turn out great :clap:
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Re: Mezcal!

Postby erkthejerk73 » Sun Oct 14, 2012 10:40 am

very nice thread!
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Re: Mezcal!

Postby Jimbo » Fri Oct 19, 2012 11:27 am

Great writeup JD. Nice collection of brewing stuffs too! That hammered stainless fermenter is sweet!
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Re: Mezcal!

Postby junkyard dawg » Sun Oct 21, 2012 12:46 am

Thank you all for the kind words. :D

This project has been a great success so far. I like it as is... pour an 1/8" in the bottom of a glass and stick your nose in and smell it. You can smell the smoker and you can smell the agave and you can smell the caramelized bits and the parts that still smell raw. I'm pretty sure you can taste the agave syrup that went into the mix. It all came out great...

I kept one gallon out of the whole affair. the heads and tails are tucked away in case another agave comes my way. I did not make rigorous cuts. I kept a lot of the early portion of the run and much of the tail end. Most of it got aged with charred white oak. Some is white. One bottle got about 5 little toasted french oak chips after the charred american oak. That bottle is really ridiculously good... :thumbup: :D :lol:

None of this would have happened without this community here! I lift a glass and say thanks to everyone that participates and makes this forum possible. :ebiggrin:

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Re: Mezcal!

Postby Dnderhead » Sun Oct 21, 2012 1:23 am

OK apparently the roasting (dry heat) deactivates/dissolves the calcium oxalate.so that is one of the most important part.
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Re: Mezcal!

Postby Sungy » Sun Oct 21, 2012 3:15 am

Im so jealous. There is no way to grow agave up here. Awesome job.
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Re: Mezcal!

Postby captain5214 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 4:06 am

i grow catus in pots here, i must have 10 agave and about 5 san pedros and some peruvion torch, havent did anything with agaves yet, but the san pedros...WOW . it takes a foot of it to brew up.
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Re: Mezcal!

Postby junkyard dawg » Sun Nov 11, 2012 6:06 am

I was surfing this morning and a post from onemarleyfan led me to this page. It talks about the trendy tequilas and a little about the different techniques used to build flavors. It mentions terroir (clearly evident in this mezcal!) Its not technical, but its a decent read...

http://www.latimesmagazine.com/2011/07/tequila.html
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Re: Mezcal!

Postby VWFringe » Sun Nov 11, 2012 10:08 am

so #ucking glad someone's done this, and done it good...my grin just won't go away, even getting a bit misty

and dreaming of someday, fermenting on the fiber

I'd only had raw agave syrup when i tried couple years ago, but noticed then it took a month to be any good...just can't imagine how good ur's is with that smoker in the mix! I really appreciate Dunder's add to the thread...i'll def use that tidbit if I ever am lucky enough to find an agave.

Thanks for sharing!
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Re: Mezcal!

Postby Im gone » Sat Nov 24, 2012 10:40 am

Nicely done. That is not a process for the faint of heart.

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Re: Mezcal!

Postby MDH » Thu Nov 29, 2012 4:52 pm

I have recently just tried a mexican spirit produced in somebody's basement, made entirely from Tobala pina. I don't know who the distiller is, but it's fantastic.
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Re: Mezcal!

Postby junkyard dawg » Sat Dec 01, 2012 12:22 pm

I would love to get a hold of a tobala... I'm very curious about the different flavors from different variety of agave.

I recently rode past a farm that had rows and rows of agave planted. There were several varieties other than americana... :ebiggrin:

gonna have to swing back by there soon...
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Re: Mezcal!

Postby zeeshan » Mon Jan 07, 2013 3:09 am

It has some sweet flavors that I attribute to the gallon of dark agave syrup that went into the mash. I suppose there are lots of unimplementable sugars in that syrup. It is smoky and that lingers, but its not overpowering. Its still got a serious bite to it
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Re: Mezcal!

Postby junkyard dawg » Mon Apr 29, 2013 8:48 pm

well, after about 7 months, I uncorked a bottle... I've taken sips since it was made. The smoke has laid off a little and the agave is more pronounced.... its really damn good. even at 125 proof is still awesome sipping smooth. A spirit to be certain! :shock: Thanks Home Distiller forum, mods, and members. This wouldn't have happened without y'all. :thumbup:
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Re: Mezcal!

Postby bourbonbob1 » Sun Jul 14, 2013 10:06 am

That is absolutely amazing! Good work! :thumbup:
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Re: Mezcal!

Postby MDH » Sun Jul 14, 2013 10:08 am

Now, we just need this experiment done again with spontaneous fermentation...
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Re: Mezcal!

Postby junkyard dawg » Wed Jan 08, 2014 2:40 pm

:wtf:

yeah, it hurts!

but it doesn't last!

:lol: :lol:
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Re: Mezcal!

Postby junkyard dawg » Sun Jan 12, 2014 9:53 am

I don't think the agave juice is diluted. Its pretty low gravity to begin with. 14 brix is good...

Medic, do you have a thread about your agave? I'll look around a little for one.
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Re: Mezcal!

Postby Stonesryan » Wed May 17, 2017 4:31 pm

Interesting that this thread hasn't had any recent activity seeing as it's the only 100% agave success story I've found in the forums!
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Re: Mezcal!

Postby rubber duck » Wed May 17, 2017 9:26 pm

For most of us agave hearts are not really avaliable, that is the reason why. I've got a small amount of experience with ricillia but the materials are not avaliable to me up north.

But yes this is a thread that I really did enjoy as well.
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