From Maine to Michigan and beyond, brews made with maple are increasing in popularity. What was once a field of few has blossomed into a broad range of styles and approaches to using an ingredient more commonly associated with breakfast than making an alcoholic beverage.
The list of breweries that have or have had a maple beer include regional favorites and American staples alike – names like Saranac, Dogfish Head, Chatham Brewing, Labatt, Fernie Brewing Co., Hinterland, Harpoon, Sam Adams, Goose Island, Lawson’s Finest, Peak Organic Brewing, Dark Horse Brewing, 14th Star, NoDa Brewing Company, Rogue, Granville Island Brewing, Sierra Brewing Co., and Rock Art among others all have experience brewing with maple.
The recipes, styles and technique vary considerably when it comes to making maple beer. There doesn’t seem to be a rule of thumb – add maple syrup at the end of the primary fermentation or during the secondary or as a priming agent – all seem to work, but with different results.
Be thoughtful in the choice of hops and malt – it’ll impact whether the maple flavor is a subtle note or takes center stage. How much maple is needed? Well, that all depends on the desired flavor and beer style. Beer Advocate, BYO, Reddit, Beer Smith, and the Brewing Network all have forums that discuss the use of maple and highlight recipes and techniques that have worked well So, whether it’s a porter, a bock, an amber, a stout, a cream, a wheat, a Belgian or a brown ale - maple might have a spot on the ingredient roster.
The beer world and beyond has taken note of how maple’s robust earthy and caramel notes play in beer making. In June All About Beer ran an article entitled “Sweet Rewards of Maple Beers” highlighting the different approaches and styles of several prominent beer makers who use maple. More broadly press outlets like the Portland Press Herald have called out the phenomena of maple beers. This spring they ran a story entitled “Maple Syrup Sweetens Craft Brews.” And, enthusiasm for maple isn’t limited to just those who brew with hops and malt – the burgeoning market for beverages made with maple extends to hard ciders and spirits too. So whatever your libation of choice, maple may be sweet talking its way to a bottle near you.
Interested in brewing with maple? Here are some helpful Maple facts for beer brewers:
- Maple sap typically contains about 2% sugar.
- Maple syrup is standardized at a minimum of 66° Brix
- Grade B syrup (now called Grade A Dark Robust) can contain 6% invert sugar, while Grade A Light Amber will contain less than 1%.
- The darker the color (Grade) of the syrup the stronger the maple flavor. Here's a grading primer.
- Maple is available in liquid and dry form - learn more about how to use maple as an ingredient.
Looking for a source of bulk maple syrup for a recipe trial or your next batch? Whether you’re a home brewer or craft brewer we’re happy to help get you the right product.