Spring Rites

The maple sap started running late but in the end it was a pretty good season. I put up over a gallon of syrup (just enough for a year’s household use), gave away a few gallons of straight sap, and brewed 4 different batches with more sap.  One was a mead, one was the Oktoberfest in the last post. Today I present the latest pair, a Canadian-style Golden Ale and a Scotch Ale. Both are richer and more full-bodied because of the sap used in the mash. Both also have a smoky, woody flavor.

Maple Leaf Golden Ale
5 gallons, all grain


  • 7 lbs. Maris Otter 2-row pale malt
  • 2 lbs. 30°L crystal malt
  • 1 pint maple syrup
  • 1-1/2 oz. whole Chinook hops (home grown)
  • 1/2 oz. whole Cluster hops (home grown)
  • 1/8 oz. whole Hallertauer hops (home grown)
  • White Labs Australian Ale yeast (WLP009)
  • 1/2 cup corn sugar and
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup for priming

Boil 5 gallons maple sap down to 12 quarts. Cool down (or heat up) to 165°F. Crush grains, dough in and hold 60 minutes at 154°F. Heat 15 quarts water to 170°F. Begin runoff and sparge, collecting 25 quarts sweet wort. Add 1 pint maple syrup to kettle, bring to a boil. Add Chinook hops, boil 15 minutes. Add Cluster hops, boil 40 minutes. Add Hallertauer hops, boil 5 minutes and turn off heat. Remove hops, chill to 80°F and pour into a sanitized fermenter, splashing well to aerate. Take a hydrometer reading, pitch yeast and seal fermenter. Ferment warmish (68 – 70°F) for ten days. Rack to secondary, age cooler (60°F) for ten to twelve days. Prime with corn sugar and maple syrup, bottle and condition for three to four weeks.

OG: 1080
IBU’s: 55 (a guess, as I don’t have alpha ratings for my own hops…)

Note on maple: if you don’t have maple sap, mash in water to which you you have added a cup of real maple syrup. Don’t use maple-flavored corn syrup!

Note on yeast: The Australian yeast is very similar to the basic neutral yeasts used in many American pale ales and Golden ales as well as one of the better known Canadian ale breweries. It produces a malty, clean-tasting beer and ferments equally well at warmer and cooler temperatures.

Vermont Highland Ale
5 gallons, all grain


  • 7 lbs. Maris Otter 2-row pale malt
  • 3-1/2 lbs. Weyermann Abbey malt
  • 1 lb. 60°L crystal malt
  • 6 oz. Cara-Belge malt
  • 6 oz. British amber malt
  • 4 oz. dark Munich malt
  • 1 oz. peated malt
  • 1 oz. Styrian Goldings hop pellets (@4.5% aa)
  • 1 oz. Fuggles hop pellets (@4% aa)
  • White Labs Edinburgh Ale Yeast (WLP028)
  • White Labs Kölsch yeast (WLP029)
  • 2/3 cup corn sugar for priming

Boil 7.5 gallons maple sap down to 16 quarts. Cool down (or heat up) to 167°F. Crush grains, dough in and hold 60 minutes at 155°F. Heat 15 quarts of water to 170°F. Begin runoff and sparge, collecting 24 quarts sweet wort. Boil 30 minutes without any hops. Add Styrian Goldings, boil 30 minutes. Add Fuggles, boil another 30 minutes (60 total with hops, 90 overall). Remove from heat, chill to 80°F and take a hydrometer reading. Pour into a sanitized fermenter, splashing well to aerate. Pitch yeasts, seal and ferment cool (58 – 60°F) for two weeks. Rack to secondary, condition cooler (50°F) for three to four weeks. Prime with corn sugar, bottle and age at 45 – 50°F for six weeks minimum.

OG: 1092
IBU’s: 28

Note on sap: Again, if you do not have sap you can mash with water to which you have added syrup – 1/2 to 3/4 cup for this brew.
Note on wort: I took the first 4 quarts of runoff and started it boiling immediately. The extra boiling time caramelizes the sugars and develops additional dextrines to help the beer become more full-bodied.

Note on yeast: The Edinburgh yeast imparts the classic malty/caramel notes of a Scotch Ale but does not always attenuate enough to dry this beer out. The Kölsch yeast will tolerate a little higher alcohol level so will help to finish this beer to a medium sweet profile instead of a cloying, heavy beer.

Note on bottle conditioning: I am brewing this beer in April to enter into a competition in July, but I am not sure if it will be ready – it will be finished and bottled, and certainly drinkable, but will probably be much better in November at St. Andrew’s Day… This is a strong beer that needs a long cool aging period to mature and smooth out.

2 Replies to “Spring Rites”

  1. Any thoughts on how much maple flavor is imparted by priming with syrup? I have a batch of “Tunbridge Sap Ale” in the primary at the moment. I was planning on priming half of the batch with sugar and the other half with syrup to compare the difference. In the “Maple Leaf Golden Ale”, why did you go half and half with sugar and syrup rather than just a full cup of syrup?



    1. Maple syrup, like honey, ferments slowly – the sugars are more complex than dextrose – so to get carbonation in a reasonable amount of time I like a combination of the corn sugar with maple syrup – it will definitely give the beer a maple edge – smoky, caramel-like… but won’t take six weeks to be drinkable! I’d love to hear from you down the road when you compare your two half-batches, see which one works better for you! Plan on longer aging for the half primed with maple…

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