Hitting the newsstands…

Not archived or online yet, but the May/June issue of Brew Your Own magazine features a series of articles on brewing with “breakfast foods” – I wrote the article and recipe on brewing with maple. There IS a recipe for bacon beer…

First Spring Brew

After boiling and jarring maple syrup last weekend, I still had enough sap left over to do one more maple-based beer. With the promise of a brief return of colder weather, I decided to risk one more lager. A big beer, a rich malty beer, with the additional flavor of maple – a Doppelbock. Again, I partially reduced the sap and mashed with it, and added more syrup to the kettle. I will use partly maple syrup to prime the beer when I bottle it, just to reinforce the maple flavor. German malts, German hops, German yeast, and to put me in the right frame of mind, I even listened to all German music while brewing… Not opera or classical, not even Oompah bands… Herbert Grönemeyer, Grobschnitt, STS, Peter Schilling, Nena, and other assorted pop, rock and folk… Peter Gabriel and The Beatles even made cameo appearances… Alles gut!

Evaporator Doppelbock
5 gallons, all-grain


  • 6 gallons maple sap reduced to 16 quarts
  • 11 lbs. Weyermann lager malt
  • 1/2 lb. 120° crystal malt
  • 1/8 lb. chocolate malt
  • 1/8 lb. cara-pils malt
  • 1 quart maple syrup
  • 8.3 AAU’s Perle hop pellets (1 oz.)
  • 5.1 AAU’s Tettnang hop pellets (1 oz.)
  • 3.0 AAU’s Hallertau hop pellets (1 oz.)
  • White Labs German Bock yeast (WLP833)
  • 1/2 cup corn sugar (for priming)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (for priming)

Reduce the sap to 16 quarts, heat to 168°F. Crush the grains, mash in to 157°F and hold for 90 minutes. Heat 14 quarts water to 170°F, begin runoff and sparge, collecting 26 quarts sweet wort. Add maple syrup, heat to boiling. Add Perle hops, boil 45 minutes. Add Tettnang hops, boil fifteen minutes. Add Hallertau hops, boil another fifteen minutes (75 total), remove from heat. Chill to 80°F, take a hydrometer reading. Pour into a sanitized fermenter, splashing well to aerate, pitch yeast. Seal and ferment 10 – 14 days at 60°F, rack to secondary. Lager cold (40 – 45°F) for four to six weeks. Prime with corn sugar and maple syrup, bottle and condition at least a month.

OG: 1080
IBU’s: 51

Notes on style: Bock beers in general are strong lagers. They can be dark or light in color, but they are all aged cold. Some are released in the Spring, some in the Fall, some are year-round brews. The name probably comes from the Bavarian town of Einbeck (pronounced “Einbock” with a Bavarian accent, they say…) where the first versions of the style were brewed over 600 years ago. They were brewed strong to store longer, and were shipped while still fermenting. Extra-strong ones were brewed in monasteries – perhaps as “food” – liquid bread –  for the Lenten season, when the monks were otherwise fasting. These double-strength brews became known as Doppelbocks. The first well-known one was brewed by the Pauline monks in Munich, disciples of St. Francis of Paula, hence the brewery now known as Paulaner. Their bock was named Salvator, “Savior”, and was timed to coincide with Easter. That name was imitated and emulated throughout the rest of the brewing world, and indeed it is rare to find a Doppelbock that does not have a name ending in -ator. Maximator (Augustiner), Celebrator (Ayinger), Optimator (Spaten), and Animator (Hacker-Pschorr) are the most famous of the Bavarian examples.

Names for doppelbocks: Doppelbocks are, in my opinion, the most fun brews to name. I have brewed or seen and tasted Doppelbocks with the following names:
Terminator ( “I’ll be Bock”), Translator, Alligator, Seeyoulator, Elevator, Refrigerator (brewed by a Chicago Bears fan back in the mid-80’s…), Regulator, Dominator, Lionator (“What happened to your wife?”), Frustrator, Percolator (brewed with coffee, of course), Dragonator (“What happened to the Princess?”), Jugulator… you get the idea…

What’s up with the goats? For some reason, Bock beers get associated with goats – many labels on Bocks, especially Doppelbocks, feature goats with large curled horns, standing on mountain-tops, head-butting each other, etc… Ayinger’s Celebrator even comes with a white plastic goat on a string around the neck of each bottle…

FYI: Tomorrow (Friday 3/26) I will be attending a conference on hop-growing in Vermont, run by the University of Vermont Agricultural Extension, at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, VT. If any of you are there, please say hello! I will report on the conference (and on the Von Trapp’s new brewery!)…

The Real Deal

I grew up with those maple-flavored corn syrups with folksy names. That’s what we put on our pancakes, French toast, waffles, etc… I remember quite well the first time I tasted 100% real maple syrup. I didn’t like it, frankly, it was too smoky, too sweet, too intense… it just didn’t taste right. I don’t remember when I started using only real syrup, but it was before I moved to Vermont. Since I’ve lived here, which is going on 20 years, I have made my own syrup nearly every year. Since I have also been brewing for 20 years, I suspect that some do-it-yourself part of me must have switched on back then, and I am thankful it did.

I am fortunate to have a fair number of sugar maples on my property, a few of which are ancient, huge and easily accessible. This year I hung six buckets out for sap, and depending on the weather, I hope to get two gallons of syrup, in addition to three brews. Last week I brewed a maple mead, using 9 gallons of sap. Today I used another 6 gallons of sap, and plan on using another 6 next week. Which means that I need to collect about 100 gallons of sap total – 21 for brewing, 80 or more to boil down for syrup… Thus far, I have gathered about 40. Hmm, maybe I need to put in a couple more  taps…

Anyway, today’s brew was designed to showcase the wonders of maple. It’s a fairly light-colored, medium-bodied golden ale, roughly based on the classic Canadian Ale style. The use of fresh sap (although I boiled my down 50% to increase the sweetness and OG) gives the beer a maple base. The addition of syrup in the kettle brings the maple flavor to the fore. It will also be primed in part with maple syrup, just to make sure you know there’s maple in there…

Maple Golden Ale
5 gallons, all grain


  • 6-1/2 lbs. pale malt
  • 1 lb. cara-amber malt
  • 1 lb. toasted pale malt (375° for 15 minutes)
  • 1/2 lb. 20°L crystal malt
  • 1 pt. 100% real maple syrup
  • 1 oz. whole Cluster hops
  • 1/4 oz. whole Willamette hops
  • 3/4 oz. whole Cascade hops
  • White Labs California Ale yeast (WLP001)
  • 1/2 cup corn sugar (for priming)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (for priming)

Toast 1 lb. pale malt. Crush all grains. Heat 15 quarts water (or maple sap) to 165°F. Mash in crushed grains, hold at 152°F for 60 minutes. Heat 13 quarts water to 170°F, begin runoff and sparge. Collect 24 quarts sweet wort. Heat to boiling, add maple syrup and Cluster hops. Boil 30 minutes, add Willamette and Cascade hops. Boil 30 more minutes, 60 total, and turn heat off. Chill to 80°F, take a hydrometer reading. Pour into sanitized fermenter, splashing well to aerate. Pitch yeast, seal, ferment at 64°F for 7 – 10 days. Rack to secondary, age cooler (55°F) for 10 – 14 days. Prime with corn sugar and maple syrup, bottle and condition 10 – 14 days.

OG: 1068
IBU’s: guessing around 42 (no idea what my own hops are at…)

Style notes: This is a little stronger than the typical Canadian golden ale, partly because I reduced the sap in half. If you use water or fresh sap instead, your gravity will probably be around 1053 or so.

Notes on sap & syrup: The rule of thumb among sugarmakers is that it takes between 30 and 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup, depending on the weather and the length of the season. My fear is that the weather will get too nice too soon – once the trees start budding and the nights no longer go below freezing, sap flow stops.

If you end up buying syrup to use in this brew, don’t spend a ton on Grade A Fancy – this beer will actually be better with a Grade B Amber or even darker – and the lower the grade of the syrup, the cheaper…