Los Muertos Brewing’s Agave Maria Amber Ale: Replicator

Dear Replicator, My wife and i visited Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, in early March. I figured I could survive on Bohemia and Negro Modelo, so You can imagine my surprise that there was an actual brewpub in town. We visited Los Muertos the first day and I went back several times. They had an amber ale that was very much like an Octoberfest style with a nice malty richness. We always have a fall Octoberfest party and I was hoping you could get some information so I could brew this nice beer.
Dirk Van Gundy
Chicago, Illinois

Proving once again the Replicator will go to any length to help a reader, I spent a week in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, this April. During my visit to Los Muertos brewpub I met owner and brewer, Conner Watts, who has deep homebrewing roots.

Conner’s road to opening the first brewpub in this tourist mecca began when he tasted a coffee porter homebrewed by the uncle of his roommate at University of Colorado. Homebrewing had become his passion by the time he returned to his home state of Utah, sometimes brewing up to 30 gallons a month.

Conner and his wife opened a successful restaurant, but after a few years became tired of the cold Utah winters and moved to their favorite vacation spot, Puerto Vallarta. He had no intention of opening a brewpub but he longed for the good American craft beers. Finally he decided to roll the dice and open the city’s first “Cerveceria Artesanal.” To gain experience on a larger scale, Conner first spent a summer working at Coopersmith Pub and Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado.

He soon discovered that opening a brewpub in Mexico came with a lot of challenges. The word “brewpub” has no Spanish translation and the city didn’t have procedures to license a beer-making restaurant. Using a local legal team to jump this hurdle, the next challenge was sourcing brewing equipment. He found a stainless fabricator in Guadalajara who he commissioned to build a seven barrel system. In order to fit the space they had to be taller and narrower than normal.

In November 2012 Conner opened Los Muertos, (The Dead), which pays tribute to the popular local beach where Conner and his wife were married.

A couple of months later, with the red tape handled and their new brewing system in place, Conner brewed his first batch, the Agave Maria Amber. This winter Los Muertos is on track to brew a lineup of seven ales.
I found the Agave Maria to be very close to a Vienna-style lager with a color that is medium copper with light red highlights and a fine white head. This is a very malt-forward beer due to the low hopping level and the somewhat high level of crystal malt.

Los Muertos Brewing’s Agave Maria Amber Ale clone

(5 gallons/19 L, extract with grains)
OG = 1.050 FG = 1.011 IBUs = 19.5 SRM = 12 ABV = 5.1 %


3.3 lbs. (1.5 kg) Briess, light, unhopped, liquid malt extract
22 oz. (0.62 kg) light, dry malt extract
22 oz. (0.62 kg) crystal malt (60L)
1.0 lb. (0.45 kg) Munich malt
6.0 oz. (0.17 kg) Victory® malt
4.0 oz. (0.11 kg) agave nectar (extract) (5 min.)
4.5 AAU Willamette hop pellets (60 min.) (0.9 oz./25.5 g at 5.0% alpha acids)
3.32 AAU U.S. Golding hop pellets (30 min.) (0.7 oz./19.8 g at 4.75% alpha acids)
3.3 AAU Target hop pellets (0 min.) (.3 oz./8.5 g at 11% alpha acids)
½ tsp. Irish moss (30 min.)
½ tsp. yeast nutrient (15 min.)
White Labs WLP 001 (American Ale) or Wyeast 1056 (American Ale) or Safale 05 (American Ale) yeast
0.75 cup (150 g) of corn sugar for priming (if bottling)

Step by Step

Steep the crushed grain in 2 gallons (7.6 L) of water at 152 ºF (67 ºC) for 30 minutes. Remove grains from the wort and rinse with 2 quarts (1.9 L) of hot water. Add the liquid and dry malt extracts and boil for 60 minutes. While boiling, add the hops, Irish moss,yeast nutrient and agave as per the schedule. During the boil, use this time to thoroughly sanitize a fermenter. Once the boil is complete, add the wort to 2 gallons (7.6 L) of cold water in the sanitized fermenter and top off with cold water up to 5 gallons (19 L).

Cool the wort to 75 ºF (24 ºC). Pitch your yeast and aerate the wort heavily. Allow the beer to cool to 68 ºF (20 º C). Hold at that temperature until fermentation is complete. Transfer to a carboy, avoiding any splashing to prevent aerating the beer. Allow the beer to condition one week and then bottle or keg. Allow the beer to carbonate and age two weeks and enjoy your Agave Maria Amber Ale.

All grain option:
This is a single-step infusion mash using 7.5 lbs. (3.4 kg) 2-row pale malt to replace the liquid and dry malt extracts. Mix all of the crushed grains with 6 gallons (22.7 L) of 173 °F (78 °C) water to stabilize at 152 ºF (67 ºC) for 60 minutes. Slowly sparge with 175 ºF (79 ºC) water. Collect approximately 6 gallons (22.7 L) of wort runoff to boil for 60 minutes. Reduce the 60-minute Willamette hop addition to 0.7 oz. (19.8 g) (3.5 AAU) and the 30-minute Golding additions to 0.5 oz. (14 g) (2.37 AAU) to allow for the higher utilization factor of a full wort boil. The remainder of this recipe and procedures are the same as the extract with grain recipe.

Issue: September 2013