Author Topic: Maple Sap Extract Beer  (Read 730 times)

Offline Llcoole83

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Maple Sap Extract Beer
« on: March 07, 2014, 10:08:26 AM »
Excuse me if this has been asked before but I'm new, so sue me.

Anyways, I am only 5 batches into my brewing career so I haven't made the jump to all-grain brewing just yet but I love in Northern Michigan where people are just about to start tapping maple trees for the syrup season so I want to make a beer with sap instead of water.

Every recipe I have found online is all-grain but I assumed I can just adapt any by skipping a corner or two with extract. Have any of you tried maple sap beer brewing? What is a good base beer to go with the favors? Anything I should be aware of with the higher OG before even doing anything? How much maple syrup should I add to the secondary to boost the maple flavor?

I of course am looking to make a 5 gallon batch.

Thanks for the help.

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Re: Maple Sap Extract Beer
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2014, 10:11:30 AM »
I've heard this question asked many, many times over the last 16 years.  While I haven't tried it, the answer I always hear from people who have is don't bother.  You gain noting by using the sap.  Maybe someone here will have a different answer.
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Offline brewbaker

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Re: Maple Sap Extract Beer
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2014, 10:34:38 AM »
Hmm. Lawson's Finest in Vermont does a Maple Triple ale brewed with 100% maple sap.

Per their website:
"Enticing, rich and complex, this creation defies easy description. Our 'once-a-year beer' is brewed only during sugaring season with 100% maple sap from our friend Paul Marble in Fayston, VT. No water added! Just barley, hops, and ale yeast. ~10.1% a/v"

It is expensive, I paid $25 for a 500mL bottle, but good lord was it a maple sensation. I dont know what they do differently aside from using 100% maple sap, but it is damn good and has a damn good and strong maple flavor!

GO FOR IT!

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Maple Sap Extract Beer
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2014, 10:52:29 AM »
Maple sap has a lovely very mild sweetness and just a hint of woody maple flavor. I've not made a beer with sap but I think there are a couple folks on here who have. I've brewed with maple syrup and that can certainly give you some flavor but it takes alot. this is not a cheap beer.

The last maple beer I did I used 2 kg of maple syrup in a 5 gallon batch, that's ~60 bucks work of maple in this neck of the woods (admittedly far from the source) and the flavor is mild but apparent.

The 'problem' with using sap is that much of the flavor we think of as maple syrup is created during the boiling process so the sap just doesn't taste like much. It is a lovely drink be itself and when I lived in vermont there was a company making maple sap soda, basically just carbonated sap and that was really nice.

the best bang for your buck flavor wise is to prime with maple syrup. it still takes a fair amount, another 8-12 ounces per 5 gallons.

In terms of gravity, the sap is only about 1-2% sugar so it's not really something you have to worry about.
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Offline Llcoole83

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Re: Maple Sap Extract Beer
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2014, 05:19:57 PM »
I have the ability to get my hands on plenty of syrup and sap for free in exchange for a couple bottles of the finished product, so cost is not an issue.

So would it be best to just boil with 100% sap and then just add syrup to secondary? If so, I've heard somewhere to put 16-20 ounces of syrup in. That sound about right?

Should I use a simple pale ale as the base beer or something else? The idea of a maple porter intrigues me.

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Re: Maple Sap Extract Beer
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2014, 07:12:48 PM »
I wouldn't add it to the secondary, no telling how that would effect your fermentation. I would go ahead and use the sap in your worti. I would look at recipes for maple beers to look for starting points. I would go conservative with the syrup in the wort and taste it to see if it comes through. I wouldn't want it to be too up front. A porter does not sound like a bad idea. We are going to bottle a maple tej that I made last spring in a couple months. I used all sap instead of water plus syrup.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Maple Sap Extract Beer
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2014, 08:13:16 PM »
Mort is correct. IME you need a lot of maple syrup to get maple flavor to come through. If the sap does not have a strong flavor it will get overwhelmed by malt and hops. If you're getting it free though to ahead and do it. I would add syrup after fermentation dies down and taste it to see what you're getting. You can always add more. Especially if it's free.


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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Maple Sap Extract Beer
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2014, 08:21:14 PM »
When your add the syrup you will get a second fermentation. I would add it in primary after the initial fermentation starts to show down.
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Offline Roger Burns

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Re: Maple Sap Extract Beer
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2014, 08:30:18 AM »
One if my club mates makes maple sap beer. I believe he makes a pilsner due to the very light flavor if the sap. It can be easily overlooked if you don't know it's there. There was some discussion about the sap water mineral profile also lending to lighter beers. The problem with adding extract , in my opinion, is that the water used in the malting process contains all the original minerals. If you truly are interested in the flavor coming through wholly, without influence from extract, maybe try going to all grain with a friend who can help guide you, or try Brew In A Bag.

I brew almost exclusively BIAB, and it's easy to make the jump from extract to AG with only a couple dollar investment. Get a nylon paint strainer at the hardware (my stire sells 2 five gallon strainers for $4).


Using your existing kettle and equipment, add your grains to the bag, steep in the sap/water for an hour, pull the bag, and continue as you have brewed. Not too difficult, and can help you decide if you want to move up to AG, larger batches, etc, or not. Ymmv.
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Offline Llcoole83

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Re: Maple Sap Extract Beer
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2014, 07:22:19 PM »
Thanks for all the input. I plan on hitting the homebrew shop in the next week and figure out the details but I feel like you guys have given me the raw direction I needed.

Only shame is, depending on the weather, I may only get one shot at this this season. Sap doesn't last long fresh...needs to be made into syrup pretty quick but given what the Michigan winter has been like so far, who knows? Sap may still be running in June.

Offline chinaski

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Re: Maple Sap Extract Beer
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2014, 11:38:46 AM »
I've brewed with both sap and syrup a few times to see what I could do with maple.  In my experience, sap adds nothing but a talking point- that you can make beer with it.  Syrup can add flavor I think, but I've never gotten a discernable maple flavor from using it.  If I were to try again, I'd have your sugar-maker friends boil the sap down until its at least adding 15 points per gallon if not more & brew something with no hop flavor or aroma and low gravity- an English mild, Scottish 60/-, cream ale.  Stack the flavor deck in your favor if you catch my drift.  Have fun with the project- 'tis sugaring season.

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Re: Maple Sap Extract Beer
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2014, 06:55:55 PM »
I agree that the sap is mostly just something cool about the beer made with it and won't add much flavor. But if you really can get a lot of it for free what I did when I made maple tej last year was leave the three 5-gallon buckets I had of it outside overnight to freeze and discard the ice in the morning. A few nights of that gives you less volume and higher sugar, then you can boil it down too. Since i added syrup too I will never know how much flavor it added but it tasted stronger than when I started.
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Offline jeffy

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Re: Maple Sap Extract Beer
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2014, 06:58:55 AM »
May be slightly off topic, but this is funny.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4571982
It's an NPR story from a few years ago about what happens to maple trees if they don't get tapped.
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