Now that I have spent most of yesterday researching and thinking about maple syrup, it’s time to formulate a recipe. I won’t lie to you, I’m not an expert in brewing beer or crafting recipes yet. I am still an extract brewer. I just know what I like and what I want to try and make. With that, I will go online and look for a recipe to base my experiment on. Then I will tweak and add to it as I see fit to create the beer I want.
In this case I had the idea of a Maple Cream Ale. So I looked at how-to’s and recipes for cream ale. The essentials to a typical cream ale are using corn adjuncts and the type of yeast (and the temperature it ferments at). Normally you would use a lager yeast at higher temperatures at around 20°C but some strains of ale yeast fermented at around the same temperature will work.
How will a cream ale work with maple syrup anyway? Most of the cream ales I’ve tried were mild in flavour, light in colour and a bit bitter. I want the creamy mouth feel but this beer won’t taste like a traditional cream ale. It needs to be a bit sweet and because of the maple it will be a lot darker. So I searched the homebrewtalk forums for a hybrid cream ale recipe and I found an extract Caramel Cream Ale recipe. Reading the comments for the recipe, it sounded like this is a sweet beer, which is perfect to compliment the maple flavours. But a bit of tweaking will be needed.
When maple is boiled and fermented, the yeast will eat the sugars in the syrup leaving a dry wood flavour. It is distinctly maple but without the instinctive sweet taste. The Caramel/Crystal malt and a hint of vanilla will add back a bit of the sweetness expected with maple syrup. Adding lactose, which is an unfermentable sugar, will also add sweetness and a nice smooth body to the beer. I just need to make sure that the beer ends up balanced. The last thing I want is a sweet candy beer. I will probably add more hops and dial back the vanilla and lactose. And of course, add maple syrup.
There are a lot of recipe applications out there. I use BrewTarger simply because it is free. It works well in organizing ingredients and calculating expected values. It will also print out a nice recipe and brew day sheet. There are other applications out there like BeerTools but I do not have any experience with them.
Now I use BrewTarget to add my ingredients, tweak it a bit and then I’ll make sure my local home brew store carries what I need. My tentative recipe looks something like this:
Maple Cream Ale
3lbs Extra Light Dry Malt Extract
3lbs Light Wheat Dry Malt Extract
1lbs Crystal Malt (steeped at 150°F – 165°F)
25g Cascade Pellets (60 minutes)
25g Saaz (20 minutes)
25g Tettnanger (10 minutes)
4oz (liquid oz) Lactose (15 minutes)
1tsp Irish Moss (10 minutes)
? Vanilla Extract
? Maple Syrup
As you can see I am not sure when to add the maple and how much I will need. I will have to keep thinking about those amounts and will probably only decide on brew day.
The recipe also calls for 1 cup lactose, vanilla and dry malt extract at priming. I will decide that when I taste the beer at that time and judge if it needs more sweetness/vanilla flavour. Also, I will just use dextrose for priming. It is easier to prime with and from what I understand there is no difference in taste. DME is a bit more unpredictable when priming.
Next step is looking at my equipment and buying the ingredients.