(5 gallons/19 L, extract with grains)
OG = 1.056 FG = 1.013
IBU = 31 SRM = 10 ABV = 5.7%
5 gals. (19 L) maple sap (if available) boiled down to 2.5 gals. (9.5 L)
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) dark Munich malt (20° L)
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) Carapils malt
1 oz. (28 g) chocolate malt
5 lbs. (2.3 kg) light dried malt extract
1 cup pure maple syrup
7.4 AAU Perle hops (45 min.) (1 oz./28 g at 7.4% alpha acids)
4 AAU Tettnanger hops (15 min.) (1 oz./28 g at 4% alpha acids)
Wyeast 2206 (Bavarian Lager) or White Labs WLP820 (Oktoberfest/Marzen Lager) yeast
3/4 cup granulated maple sugar or 1 cup of maple syrup for priming
Step by Step
In semi-condensed maple sap or in 2 gals. (7.6 L) of cold water, steep dark Munich, Carapils, and chocolate malts. Heat gradually up to 170 °F (77 °C) , remove grains, and wash with 2 qts. (2 L) hot water back into kettle. Bring up to boiling. Remove briefly from the heat and add malt extract and maple syrup (if you started with just water instead of sap, add 2 cups of maple syrup instead of 1). Return to heat and boil 15 minutes. Add Perle hops and boil 30 minutes. Add Tettnanger hops and boil 15 minutes more. Remove from heat, chill, add to fermenter, and top off to 5.25 gals. (20 L) with water or semi-condensed maple sap.
At 75 °F (24 °C) pitch a clean neutral lager yeast slurry and ferment at 65 to 70 °F (18 to 21 °C) for a day or so until active. Then cool down to 50 °F (10 °C) and ferment three to four weeks at this cool temperature. Rack to secondary, lager another five to six weeks. Prime with maple sugar or syrup. Age in bottles for a few months (make it in March; serve it at Oktoberfest!).
All-grain version: Swap out the dried malt extract with 9.5 lbs. (4.3 kg) of 2-row pale malt. You will need roughly 3.5 gallons (13.3 L) of either strike water or sap (semi-condensed or not). Mash at 152 °F (67 °C) for one hour. If you have enough, you can swap out the sparge water for sap. Boil for a total of 60 minutes, adding 2 cups of maple syrup if you did not use any maple sap.
Note on Maple Syrup
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to use real, pure maple syrup or fresh sap. Your choice of maple products will influence the beer:
Fresh sap, because it is less processed to begin with, will give a lighter flavor but noticeable sweetness and will not affect the color. Fancy grade-A syrup will not change the color much either but will give a richer flavor. Darker syrups (which I prefer) will give more amber color, more smoky sweetness, and some woody character to the beer. Use what you have access to, of course, but I recommend going for the “coarser” products. They’re usually a little less expensive, too.
Patience is very important with this brew. Maple sugar, like honey, is very complex and takes a long time to ferment. When this beer is young, it may be phenolic and even sour. These flavors will mellow with age, even disappear after a couple months of conditioning. So follow my recommended aging schedule. You don’t want to look like a sap in front of your Oktoberfest guests.
Written by Scott Russell
A märzen beer is the perfect base to highlight the earthy qualities of maple sap and syrup. Alternatively, you could try fermenting with a clean ale yeast if you are not equipped to ferment a beer at lager temps for several weeks. Birch sap and syrup can also be used if maple sap and syrup are not available in your region.