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Old 02-12-2011, 02:06 PM   #1
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Default Maple sap for water for beer?!

Has anyone tried brewing beer with maple sap instead of water? Just for the purpose of incorporating a "terroir" concept to the batch. It's fairly easy to collect 5 gallons of sap in just a week or 2. I imagine if you boil it it will sterilize the sap. Also maybe reduce it only by 1/2 or 3/4 so it can incorporate more fermentables (free ones?!) and give a slight flavor. Any feedback would be great.

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Old 02-12-2011, 02:15 PM   #2
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Sounds like a great idea!

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Old 02-12-2011, 02:19 PM   #3
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A friend of mine has done it. There is a nice, subtle "woodsy" background flavor. The sap works very nicely with a porter.

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Old 02-12-2011, 02:21 PM   #4
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I would try a test with the collected sap, before committing to a full boil of it. You could make a braggot using a couple of gallons (2-4), reduced down to a single gallon... That should help intensify the flavor from the sap, plus add the sugars you're thinking of. Add your normal amount of base malt, and specialty grains to make a solid braggot and you should be set. Of course, you won't really know how it's come out for more than a few months (longer aging time on such large brews)... Just be sure to mash your grains in the medium to full body range, so that it doesn't ferment down too thin...

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Old 02-12-2011, 02:21 PM   #5
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That sounds interesting. Maybe it would get lost in very hoppy beers.

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Old 02-12-2011, 02:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Golddiggie
I would try a test with the collected sap, before committing to a full boil of it. You could make a braggot using a couple of gallons (2-4), reduced down to a single gallon... That should help intensify the flavor from the sap, plus add the sugars you're thinking of. Add your normal amount of base malt, and specialty grains to make a solid braggot and you should be set. Of course, you won't really know how it's come out for more than a few months (longer aging time on such large brews)... Just be sure to mash your grains in the medium to full body range, so that it doesn't ferment down too thin...
What about any hops or malts that might go with maple/woody flavors.
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Old 02-12-2011, 02:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chefbake View Post
That sounds interesting. Maybe it would get lost in very hoppy beers.
That's why I was going with a Braggot... Or you could do an English BarleyWine, or Old Ale, or a Wee Heavy with it... Go on the lower end of the IBU scale for the brew... If you can, get 5-6 gallons of sap, and reduce the hell out of it... Maybe as low as they do for actual maple syrup, and add a healthy gallon to the brew...

Or just start experimenting with using it... If you have plenty on hand, then you have a 'free' resource to use for sugars in the brew...
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Old 02-12-2011, 02:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chefbake View Post
What about any hops or malts that might go with maple/woody flavors.
Personally, I would start with some good UK 2 Row base malt... Add some British Crystal Malt to it (pick the one that matches your flavor concept) and go to town...

I'm brewing my first batch with Honey Malt tomorrow... So far, I've been using honey in my brews, but I want to see what the Honey Malt will give me. I'm adding some BCM to the recipe as well, for more depth.

Start simple, so that you get a better idea of what the reduced sap will give you for flavors... If you have a ton of it on hand, reduce it down to get 5 gallons of ~1.120-1.140 gravity and make a mead with it...
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Old 02-12-2011, 02:30 PM   #9
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I've made maple syrup for several years. Sap is fine, but remember that it's about 1/40 the flavor and sugar of maple syrup. I never took the SG of sap, but I bet it's much lower than you'd think. I doubt you'd get much, if any, flavor from the sap. Boiling it down might help, but I know we use 40 gallons of sap or so for one gallon of syrup, so that's a lot of boiling!

It'd be fun to try it! I wouldn't worry about the beer style too much, but I think a brown ale would be a really good one to experiment with.

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Old 02-12-2011, 05:28 PM   #10
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I have not but I did try one last year brewed by one of our homebrew club members, Guinness. He is here on HBT under that name so you may want to contact him for some advice. I seem to recall he had enough sap to use it instead of water for the full 5 gallon batch.

The beer was quite good but I didn't detect a lot of the maple flavour coming through. That could very well just be me.

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