5 gallons, grain and extract
- 4 to 5 gals. maple sap (if available) boiled down to 2.5 gals.
- 0.5 lb. crushed dark Munich malt, 20° to 30° Lovibond
- 0.5 lb. cara-pils malt
- A pinch (1 oz. maximum) of chocolate malt
- 5 lbs. light unhopped dry malt extract
- 1 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 oz. Perle hops (7 to 8% alpha acid), for 45 min.
- 1 oz. Tettnanger hops (4% alpha acid), for 15 min.
- Wyeast 2042
- 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. of cold water, steep dark Munich, cara-pils, and chocolate malts. Heat gradually up to 170° F, remove grains, and sparge with 2 qts. hot water back into kettle. Bring up to boiling. Remove briefly from the heat and add extract and maple syrup (if you started with just water instead of sap, add 2 cups). 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. with pre-boiled and chilled water or semi-condensed maple sap.
At 75° F pitch a clean neutral lager yeast slurry and ferment at 65° to 70° F for a day or so until active. Then cool down to 45° to 50° F 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!).
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 very 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.