Beer of the week: the award-winning Agavemente

Agavemente is a lager inspired by the popular Mexican drink, agua de jamaica.
(Courtesy photo)

Beer Name: Agavemente
Brewery: SouthNorte Beer Co.
Style: Specialty lager
ABV: 6.3%

Crafting award-winning brews on both sides of the border, SouthNorte Beer Co. recently brought home two medals from the 2019 Great American Beer Festival (GABF): silver for its Agavemente Hibiscus Lager and gold for the Sea Señor Mexican Lager. The Agavemente also took home bronze at the 2017 GABF festival.

PACIFIC caught up with brewmaster Ryan Brooks to find out more about SouthNorte and this unique medal-honored beer:

What’s the story behind the name SouthNorte?
RYAN: SouthNorte’s mission is to transport you to the crossroads of cultures by infusing everything we do with the liveliness and authenticity of two bordering worlds. We bring that to life through the beers we brew, our logo and even our name. The “South” in SouthNorte represents San Diego, or the southernmost part of California, while the “Norte” represents Tijuana, which is commonly referred to as “esquina norte” or the “north corner.” Combined, you get SouthNorte, which is a true representation of both sides of the border.

When you see our logo, you’ll also notice several elements hidden within the design itself. The two halves of the logo meet to form a corner or point, another nod to esquina norte. The left side represents San Diego, and hidden with the letter “s” is a beer bottle and a star to represent the lone star in the California flag. The right side of the logo represents the Mexican side, with the letter “o” shelters a burning heart that represents our passion for brewing. It is inspired by Mexican milagritos, charms that are traditionally used as votive offerings.

What was the inspiration for the Agavemente?
RYAN: Agavemente is inspired by our take on a traditional Mexican drink called agua de jamaica, a refreshing hibiscus drink. We knew we wanted to brew a strong lager, and after several experiments with the agave, we knew we needed something to balance the sweetness. Jamaica (hibiscus) is really tart on its own, and when you drink agua de jamaica its typically sweetened to balance the tart acidity, so we thought that would translate really well into a beer recipe. The rest is history!

What’s in it?
RYAN: Agavemente starts off as a strong lager, brewed with a blend of Pilsner and 2 row malts. We add agave syrup in the boil along with noble European hops for a subtle earthy character. We make a hibiscus tea from dried flowers and let the beer age, or lager, with that tincture for two weeks. The hibiscus gives the beer a beautiful red hue and balances the sweetness from the agave for a refreshing spin on the traditional agua de jamaica.

What should someone trying the Agavemente for the first time expect?
RYAN: Up front, you get a subtle bready maltiness from the pilsner malt, followed by a light sweetness from the agave. Your palate gets the tea-like herbal notes from the hibiscus, which balances out the sweetness for an overall refreshing lager character. The beer finishes dry, with a lingering hibiscus note. Overall, for being a strong lager at 6.3% ABV, this beer is smooth and refreshing.

Ryan Brooks is brewmaster at SouthNorte Beer Co.
Courtesy photo

Perfect pairing?
RYAN: One of our favorites is enjoying Agavemente with aguachile or ceviche and tortilla chips. The toasted corn in the chips brings out the breadiness of the lager base, and the slight sweetness and earthiness of the agave and hibiscus help temper the acidity of the citrus. Because of Agavemente’s striking color, it’s also a fun rosé alternative and makes for a festive addition to any brunch table.

This beer gal’s take:
A fantastic cross-over into craft beer for wine and macro lager drinkers, the Agavemente is unique, refreshing and even pretty to look at. Like one of the colors of a Pacific sunset, this West Coast/Mexico inspired beer is perfect for kicking up your feet at the end of a SoCal day with spicy tacos, citrusy guacamole and grilled foods.

Where can I get it and how long?
RYAN: Agavemente is part of SouthNorte’s year-round lineup. You can find it on draft and in six-pack 12 oz cans throughout San Diego. Check our Grab a Cerveza beer finder at or reach out to us on Instagram to find it near you.

Extra Juicy Tidbit?
RYAN: We are the first craft brewery to have a permanent brewing presence on both sides of the border. We are proud to brew in Tijuana at Telefonica Gastropark. You can visit and try SouthNorte beers on tap while experiencing some of the best local craft beers and food trucks in Tijuana—all under one roof.

SouthNorte is brewed in San Diego at Coronado’s Brewing Company’s location in Bay Park, plus brews and has a tasting room on Boulevard Agua Caliente in Tijuana.