How to (Successfully) Brew with Maple Syrup - My story of trial and error

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secretlevel

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I have tried pretty much all of the methods to try to get maple flavor in my beers. I've done a maple as priming sugar, maple-aged oak staves, fenugreek seed beer, maple extract beer, maple in primary, maple in secondary, maple soup, maple gumbo... just kidding about the last two. You get the point, I'm the Bubba of the maple syrup beers.

To successfully add maple syrup, you'll need to make sure that the yeast aren't going to be able to ferment it. To do this, you'll need to either wait 3-6 months for the yeast to die out, OR use common brewing ingredients - potassium metabisulfite (Campden tablet) and potassium sorbate (winemaking aid). Here are the steps:
  1. Brew a beer, ferment it and let it reach its final gravity
  2. Cold crash if you can, then transfer into a secondary fermenter off the yeast cake and keep at room temp
  3. Crush up two whole Campden tablets (potassium metabisulfite) and add to the fermenter
  4. Add Potassium Sorbate - I used 2 grams/gallon
  5. Swirl the fermenter around to allow thorough mixing and allow 1-2 days before adding the syrup
Allow fermenter to sit at room temperature for 1-2 weeks just in case there's some slight fermentation still taking place. Campden and Sorbate do not actually kill the yeast, but rather prevent the yeast cells from multiplying. This is why you may still get a little re-fermentation, but the yeast won't be able to ferment the vast majority of the syrup.

Fair warning, this process works well if you keg, or keg and then bottle. If you don't have kegging setup, the process is different, view the bottling procedure.

Base Beer/Recipe Tips:

Brew a beer a little drier then usual. My 10% adjunct stouts usually finish around 1.035 - 1.045, but in this case, I would allow them to ferment down to 1.015 - 1.025 by using US-05 as opposed to an English Ale yeast and mashing lower than usual.

A good trick is to also use some maple syrup during primary fermentation. Add 8oz (for 5 gallons) during primary fermentation to impart slight maple flavor and help dry the beer out and finish lower. Use Grade B or another darker syrup for beer, it has a much more saturated flavor that we usually associate with 'maple'.

I have my go-to recipe and more details in my blog - How to Brew with Maple Syrup.

maple-syrup-stout.jpg
 

VikeMan

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If you are kegging, why would you bother stunning the yeast with metabisulphite/sorbate? Just back-sweeten with syrup in the keg and keep it cold. I've done this with several types of sugary flavor additions.
 

Rob2010SS

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If you are kegging, why would you bother stunning the yeast with metabisulphite/sorbate? Just back-sweeten with syrup in the keg and keep it cold. I've done this with several types of sugary flavor additions.
Because if you want to bottle from the keg, you wouldn't be able to do so if you didn't do this. I've done this as well when using maple syrup in the keg. However, I added the meta/sorbate to the keg instead of the fermenter. I like the method that @secretlevel posted here.
 

VikeMan

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Because if you want to bottle from the keg, you wouldn't be able to do so if you didn't do this. I've done this as well when using maple syrup in the keg. However, I added the meta/sorbate to the keg instead of the fermenter. I like the method that @secretlevel posted here.
That's why I said "kegging," and not "kegging then bottling," as the OP distinguished between the two, but recommended the same process for both. For the former, there's no need for it.
 
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secretlevel

secretlevel

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I wanted to list out a process that's used by breweries when backsweetening with various adjuncts (Great Notion) or even adding fruit (Drekker fruited sours). This is also a process that can be utilized by a wider variety of homebrewers. I personally never know if I want to bottle off a few beers to give to friends or relatives. In addition, if my power goes out or if I want to take the keg out to make room in the fridge, I won't have to deal with fermentation issues.

In addition, I'm not sure how well maple will dissolve in cold beer, rather than room temperature. It's not a process that I've tried and can vouch for it enough to advise for others to use it.
 
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