From the HBD Archive
From: Arthur Delano <>
Subject: Maple beer information
Date: 1992-06-05 14:18:03 GMT

After the thread about using maple syrup began a while ago, I thought
that it would be good if I could dig up a book which has relevant
information on the subject. I'm sorry that I took so long, but my book
collection is a mess.

The source is: _Wines and Beers of Old New England: A How-to-Do-It
History_ (1978), fascinating even if you never plan on following any if
its recipes. The author is Sanborn C. Brown, who has taught many
classes on homebrewing at MIT. I don't know if this book is still in
print (part of the reason why I feel it would be useful to copy out some
of the info), but it's somewhat easy to find used.

The quotes are taken out of order.

"Since maple syrup is about one third water, to use maple syrup as sugar
for beers, wines, or ciders increase the volume of the syrup by that
amount (1 1/2 cups syrup = 1 cup of cane sugar).

"You can make good 'middle beer' by using the sap just as it comes from
the tree in place of the water in the basic beer recipe.... To make a
colonial strong beer, boil the sap to one half its volume and use it in
place of both the water and the sugar in the basic recipe.... It makes
a good light beer."

[the basic recipe is: 1 gal. water, 3# hopped malt extract syrup, boil,
six cups sugar dissolved, water added to make five gallons, yeast.]

"When maple beer was made in the old days, it was an early spring beer
and was made right along with the syrup and the sugar. This was because
sap does not keep well. It molds easily. Its pectin content is high,
and if kept for long, it can turn to a soft jelly which inhibits
fermentation. However, fresh sap boiled to one half and used in place
of water in the usual process of making beer gave the early settlers an
excellent strong beer made totally from the products of their own farm.
They also made a wine, which they called 'maple mead,' by boiling the
sap to 1/10th*, adding yeast, and fermenting."

[* Elsewhere, Brown indicates that commercial syrup is sap reduced to
1/40 or 1/50 original volume.]

There is also several pages about collecting maple sap and making maple
syrup. I'm intrigued by the idea of making beer directly from slightly
reduced maple sap (it makes diluting maple syrup an unneccessary step),
and meant to talk to some of the commercial maple producers last winter
about buying the unreduced sap. There is also intriguing information
about birch sap being collected for its sugar. Some recipes and ideas
are included in the book.

There is information on buying and keeping oak storage barrels, making
wines, ciders, and beers of all kinds, and lots of historical
information on how and why things were done. At the end is a collection
of recipes for drinks made with the proceeds of the previous chapters.
I highly recommend this book, and if it is out of print, it ought to be
put back in print.


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