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Maple Sap Beer ?

It's made from the last sap from the spring maple sugaring season that isn't considered good for much and results in a drink high in alcohol with a strong maple flavor.

Is anyone other than Sean Lawson in Vermont making this traditional brew ?

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012...

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  1. There's (not unexpectedly) a few folks in Canada doing it. St Ambroise Erable in Quebec, Sap Vampire in Alberta, Lake Of Bays Spring Maple Belgian Blonde Ale (Ontario). I have good luck finding beers from the province of Quebec in NH (Fin du Monde, etc)....but I don't know of any American brewers.

    1 Reply
    1. re: pinehurst

      Thanks pinehurst,

      I'll contact the producers, but after looking into our suggestions, I think they are just maple syrup flavored beers. I'm interested in finding a real brew made from the late Maple Sap harvest.

      BTW There is also an excellent maple syrup / whiskey liqueur out of Quebec called Sortilege. Very tasty stuff.

    2. It's been a long time since I read this:

      http://www.amazon.com/Wines-Beers-Old...

      I'm pretty sure I read about maple sap beer in this book, along with many other interesting beverages they used to make in New England.

      I noticed a link elsewhere to an ebook version at a good price.

      1. Not sure even Sean Lawson is making this traditional brew which sounds like its made from mostly sap and maybe some sugar. I think Lawson's maple beers are mostly malt based.

        7 Replies
        1. re: LStaff

          It looks like you're talking about the Maple Tripple, described below as being made from barley, hops, yeast and maple sap, with no water added. Wow.

          http://www.lawsonsfinest.com/beermenu...

          1. re: Jim Dorsch

            Jim,
            Did you mean "maple sap with no water added" or that no water was used in the brewing?

            1. re: Tripeler

              The description on this page says no water added at all:

              http://www.lawsonsfinest.com/beermenu...

              Here's what it says:

              2009 Maple Tripple - 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

              1. re: Jim Dorsch

                Thanks for the clarification. Apparently, the sap that comes directly from the tree doesn't have the gravity or density that bottled maple syrup has.

                1. re: Tripeler

                  Thanks for pointing that out. The whole thing makes more sense now.

                  1. re: Tripeler

                    Correct. The sap direct from the tree has a viscosity very close to water. So it's pretty easy substitute sap for water in the brewing process. You have to boil it down to make the syrup. About 40-50 gallons of sap will make 1 gallon of syrup. To brew with any real quantity of syrup would be super expensive.

                    1. re: SP1

                      Couple of discussions over technique and recipes for sap beer here. Sap is used as the primary liquid, but syrup can be added to boost the maple flavor.

                      Would really love to try some...

                      http://vermonthomebrew.com/using-mapl...
                      http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/maple...

          2. Fiddlehead, in Burlington, VT, made it last year. Not sure if it was draught only though. Good luck getting ahold of any of the Lawson product, I think you have to camp out at the Warren General Store...

            1. As a past home brewer and also a tapper of Maple trees to make Maple syrup I have a little experience with both. In fact I use much the same equipment. Maple sap is mostly water. It looks like water. It feels like water. It has a faint, very faint Maple taste. It does leave a little bit of sticky feel to your fingers. You boil it down 40 to 1 to get the syrup content that is left by boiling out the water. So I suppose you could just add the same amount of pure Maple syrup to your brew to get a similar result. Basically what the article is saying is that that end of season sap produces too dark of a syrup to sell commercially so just use it to make beer same as water. Is there any magic to using sap over tap water? Well, its totally untreated water for what that is worth.

              8 Replies
              1. re: Davydd

                Well I scored 5 gallons of premium grade Sap from a Syrup maker and a home brew Pale Ale recipe (substituting the water with sap) is now bubbling away in the basement. The wort had a hint of maple flavor with a pleasant lingering maple after taste. Hope the maple flavor holds up after fermentation is complete.

                If anyone has tried Lawsons Maple Tripple or Fiddleheads Maple Sap beer and can describe the type of beer (pale, amber, stout,...) and flavor profile (bitter, hoppy,...) I can adjust the recipe for next years batch.

                Will report back when ready to drink in a couple of weeks.

                  1. re: PoppiYYZ

                    If you plan to bottle condition the beer you can prime with maple syrup to ensure a maple flavor finish in the beer. I did this once with a beer fermented with maple syrup. It came out pleasantly maple-y, with a pronounced flavor, but not overly sweet.

                    1. re: sadiefox

                      Thanks sadiefox,

                      I have heard of priming with maple syrup. I have been debating (amongst myselves) whether or not to do it since I wanted the first batch to be as original old school as possible. Although I don't have a definitive recipe, I thought it was unlikely precious syrup would have been used in the beer back in the old days.

                      The current consensus is to prime 2/3 of the batch with regular sugar, and 1/3 with maple syrup.

                      Brew update : The batch was VERY slow starting fermentation (for reasons completely unknown since wort temp and aeration were good and yeast prebloomed in wort perfectly). Really started going on day 3, peaked at day 10-12, and is now almost done (day 17). Bottling planned in the next few days...

                      1. re: PoppiYYZ

                        I haven't brewed in years, but remember that the slow fermentations resulted in the best flavour. The fermentations that quickly took off and were violent seemed to have a lot of off-flavors.

                        1. re: Tripeler

                          Thanks Tripeler,

                          Positive news, my fingers are crossed things turn out.

                          BTW, my first batch of beer fermented so violently (in an carboy without sufficient head space), the standard wine air trap overflowed with foam, eventually plugged, and exploded spraying foam up to the basement ceiling tiles !

                          Not a very good first effort, very unhappy missus, but - thankfully - still turned out a tasty brew !

                          1. re: PoppiYYZ

                            Gosh, I wonder how THAT beer tasted?
                            Sounds like a real mess to clean up.

                            1. re: Tripeler

                              Actually that beer tasted great (IMHO). I now use a 23L carboy to brew a 20L batch. No more foam overs !

                1. OK ! The Sap beers are ready !! 21 day ferment, 14 days in the bottle, primed some with sugar and some with maple syrup.

                  Sugar Primed : Very enjoyable beer. Amber red color, slightly sweet hoppy nose, nice frothy head, and a bitter pale ale flavor with a slight maple / caramely flavor. Definitely repeating this next spring.

                  Maple Syrup Primed (I assumed a 67% sugar content in the syrup so I increased the amounts used in the prime accordingly). Very little difference to the Sugar primed. Slightly darker and slightly more of a rich caramel flavor, as you'd expect I guess. Also very good.

                  I prefer the sugar primed since it has a slightly cleaner taste. Really like these beers but might also try a less hoppy recipe next year to let the maple flavor stand out more.

                  Gotta go now, cheers !

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: PoppiYYZ

                    Thanks for the report. What temperatures are you fermenting at? I think fewer hops is a good idea. There are very subtle flavors with maple sugars that could easily be mowed down entirely by very citric hops.

                    1. re: Tripeler

                      Fermentation at 68-70F.

                      Used 2oz Cascade hops in boil, 1oz Citra hops finish in a 20L batch. The hoppy/mapley/caramelly flavor is very good and I'd do it again, but agree on a less hopped batch next year too.

                    2. re: PoppiYYZ

                      Glad they worked out well! Ditto on using fewer hops.