Saturday, March 1, 2008

mezcal la botica

There's a little place on Calle Umaran called the Mezcaleria La Botica. It's two blocks down from the Jardin (central plaza) and easy to miss if you walk too fast. It has no sign to call your attention. The owner, Mauricio, swings opens a couple of sagging wooden doors around five in the evening exposing a small quiet room with a half dozen metal tables with folding chairs that have the Corona emblem embossed on backs, gratis I suppose because of the advertising. The cluster together on the black and white tiled floor in front of a standing bar that runs the length of the back wall. The bar separates the customers from a wide selection of mezcal, some of which is displayed in small, squat clear bottles that you can purchase and take home. They are lined up neatly across several glass shelves. Below, large bottles of the same are mounted to the wall for dispensing shots to drink on the premises. Mauricio is a friendly outgoing guy that becomes quite animated when he's on the subject of mezcal. He passionately describes the process of brewing and distilling the alcohol of the agave. I share his enthusiasm by sharing my brewing experiences, with Susan as interpreter and my growing comprehension of spanish we come to understand each other. He was very interested in tasting the beer I have been making down here, especially the batch with the meil de agave as a minor ingredient. At the time we first discussed brewing, the 'meil de agave pale ale' was still in the fermenter, but I promised to return with samples.

The day arrived when our schedule allowed Susan and I to go back to share. When we first entered La Botica there were a couple of guys hanging out and Mauricio quickly introduced them as partners in the local 'Slow Food' movement in Mexico. One made and distributed a liquor made from the fruit of the nopal cactus and the other, Luis, is an organic farmer. Along with Mauricio's bar hand, we all settled in to taste my beer. I brought a bottle from my first batch of beer in which I used a kilo of the local honey, in addition to the beer made with the agave. Mauricio was overwhelmed with the flavors of both, and each person expressed approval although the bitterness was more than they were used to in beer. They like the flavor and mouth feel and concluded that it would was a hit. Luis may be able to find my source of malted barley, he said he would do some searching. And, they would like me to use organic ingredients and join the Slow Food movement here in San Miguel with them. The beer would be a perfect addition.

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