There are few flavors that are as unique and delicious as maple syrup. Whether it was pancakes, waffles, or French toast, you probably grew up with maple syrup along with your favorite Sunday breakfast. Lucky for you, maple syrup can also be used in your homebrew!
The high fermentability and unique flavor of maple syrup make it work well with a number of beer styles, especially those that feature malt flavors. A maple brown ale is a popular combination, but today’s beer recipe pairs it with a Scottish ale.
Scotch ales are known for being malt forward with notes of caramel. Generally, they have low IBUs, though a small amount of roasted barley may enhance the perception of bitterness. Rather than deriving caramel flavor from caramel malt, all-grain Scotch ale recipes often involve taking a portion of the first runnings from the mash and boiling them down to develop caramelization. As one might imagine, these caramel flavors work well with the maple syrup.
Some brewers recommend using grade-B maple syrup, which has a stronger maple flavor, but typical grade-A syrup you might use on your pancakes will work too. Just be sure to use all-natural, 100% maple syrup if you want to avoid putting artificial colorings, flavors, and preservatives in your brew. Due to the high sugar content of maple syrup, it will ferment out almost completely, leaving behind a hint of that sweet maple flavor. Enjoy!
Maple Scotch Ale Recipe
(5.5-gallon batch, partial mash)
7 oz. German Munich malt
4 oz. Caramel 20L malt
2 oz. Roasted barley
3.3 lbs. light LME
2 lbs. amber DME
.5 oz. Magnum pellet hops at :60 (6.1 AAUs)
3 cups maple syrup
1 pack Mangrove Jack’s US West Coast Yeast
Partial Mash Directions:
In a small stockpot, mash crushed grains at 156°F. in 1.25 qts. of clean, chlorine-free water for 60 minutes. Strain mash through a colander into boil kettle to remove grains, then rinse them with 1 qt. water at 170˚F, collecting runoff in the kettle. Add malt extract and enough water to make three gallons. Bring to a boil. Add Magnum hops and boil for 60 minutes. At end of boil, turn off the heat, mix in maple syrup, then whirlpool and chill wort to 60˚F or below. Pour wort into a clean, sanitized fermenter with enough cool, clean, chlorine-free water to make 5.5 gallons. Stir well to aerate. Pitch yeast and ferment at 58˚F for at least two weeks. Bottle or keg and carbonate for about 2.5 volumes CO2.
Replace the malt extract with 7.2 lbs. pale ale malt. Mash grains at 156˚F for one hour. Halfway through the mash, remove two gallons of wort and boil it to condense into one gallon. This will develop caramelization. Sparge to collect a total of 7 gallons of wort, including the one gallon of caramelized wort. Boil for 30 minutes, then add Magnum hops. Boil for 60 minutes and proceed with recipe above.
Do you have a favorite Scotch ale recipe you’d like to share with us. We love to see what other homebrewer’s got cookin’.
David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.