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Old 03-28-2011, 10:08 PM   #1
tomlivings
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Default Maple syrup in brewing?

A friend of mine makes his own (incredible) maple syrup from the trees on his property. I would like to use this ingredient as a component in a beer.
Any suggestions? Any other instances in production?

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Old 03-28-2011, 10:32 PM   #2
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I had a fantastic maple porter from Rock Bottom once. There's a recipe for a maple wheat in one of the clone brews books.

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Old 03-29-2011, 12:27 AM   #3
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i used home made maple syrup in my first brew, irish stout recently. drinking it now. i added a pint at the end of the boil, and a pint when i racked to secondary. can't really tell. maybe should have used some more or even primed it with maple sugar.

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Old 03-29-2011, 12:39 AM   #4
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How much will you have access to? You could use it as a flavor element in something like an old ale, modest barley wine, or any number of other brews. Just be sure to not use a lot of strong specialty grains that will overpower it's flavor. Make something that will be enhanced by the flavors, or allow them to shine. This might not be as easy as it sounds.

I might add some during primary fermentation (post boil, same as I would honey) but I would add more post primary fermentation (I wouldn't rack to another fermenter, leave it in the same one)... Taste the brew before you decide to add more, so that you don't go too heavy, or too light. Going that route, you could make your base brew, and then add a pint, or so, of syrup at a time until you have what you're looking for...

Another option would be to use it in place of honey and make a mead from it. Or a braggot...

I'd love to get about 4-5 gallons of maple syrup that has a gravity in the 1.100-1.120 range for a mead... I'd add some more reduced syrup to add more flavors to it. I would probably add the reduced syrup once fermentation has been going for a while. That way, I'll be able to hit a higher ABV and not make it too difficult for the yeast to start working.

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Old 03-29-2011, 01:55 AM   #5
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I have used my homemade maple syrup in a porter before. I have also used it as a carbonation tool instead of priming sugar.

When it comes to using it, the grade of the syrup might have an affect on the outcome, since the darkness range. I wanted to do some maple candy and use that instead of a belgian sugar. He just has to cook the syrup down long enough that it mostly evaporates and crystalizes. Really good!!!

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Old 03-29-2011, 02:39 AM   #6
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At first, I wondered why we didn't see more maple syrup-based alcoholic beverages. Seems like a pretty great source for fermentables and flavor. Then I priced out a 5 gallon batch of maple wine and realized that maple syrup (the good stuff, why bother with the commercial bland crap you get a Trader Joe's) is *spendy*. Getting it for free or cheap would be pretty awesome.

Maple syrup is also pretty fantastic just by itself- mix enough into water (depends on the syrup, so you have to measure) to get about 1.075 OG (or higher), and ferment it either with a clean ale yeast or a champagne yeast. Gets all dry and woody, without needing oaking. Something that's on my to-do list is make a maple fortified wine- you can theoretically distill some of your maple wine and add it to another batch that's mid-ferment, catching it at 1.020 or 1.025 gravity. The increase in alcohol will stun/kill the yeast, leaving a strong but still syrupy and sweet drink. That's more or less how they make port. Of course, I can't distill at home, so this is a "maybe-someday" kind of project.

Generally, it's a lot of simple sugars and some flavors in there. Like honey, if you add it to the primary, it will ferment away almost completely, leaving behind the pleasant astringent woody flavors in the syrup but not much of the sweetness.

Using it as a priming sugar will leave a bit more residual sweetness in it, but limits how much you can put in. Similar to honey as well; you will want to pasteurize it a bit (unless you're getting it straight out of the boiler from the syrup farm you lucky somnabeech). I'd consider tossing it in at about 10 minutes from knockout. Don't want too many of those great aromatics to go away.

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Old 03-29-2011, 03:02 AM   #7
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I've had a pretty tasty maple bock. Keep in mind, only about 60% of maple syrup is fermentable.

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Old 03-29-2011, 03:05 AM   #8
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I used it when I brewed an extract brown ale years ago and it was great. It imparts a smooth flavor to the beer. I will use it again the next time I brew a brown which I have not done in a while.

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Old 03-29-2011, 12:07 PM   #9
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I have one warning. Take the brix of the syrup into consideration. I added 24oz to my secondary fermentor in a stout and my final gravity went from 1.018 to 1.007. I believe that was due to the maple syrup completely fermenting. I never heard it was only 60% fermentable and actually have heard the opposite that it was nearly 100% fermentable. Next time I do this beer I will be mashing much higher than I did to get a higher than normal final gravity. Then I'll add the syrup to secondary (which you'll have to stir up once or twice by the way) and let it bring the gravity down. Also on my last batch I primed with half maple syrup and half DME. The beer is damn good but I had to use a little maltodextrine, and lactose to bring the body/sweetness back up.

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Old 03-29-2011, 12:17 PM   #10
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smokinghole: Maybe we're both right, going by Marty Nachel's Homebrewing for Dummies, it says "Maple syrup, depending on the sugar content, is about 65% fermentable."

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