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Last year I was in Quebec with family and I picked up a 500-gram (1-lb) brick of maple sugar from the marketplace. This stuff is so hard that the locals use a cheese grater on it. It was cheap too. The only trouble it caused me was going through airport security out of Boston - it looks like what I imagine a brick of solid explosive might look like.

I'd like to make a beer with it that will let maple flavor stand out, and I'd like to have it done in time for a big party we are having in August. Once upon a time I made a maple mead that was crisp and dry with plenty of maple flavor. This is my point of reference for maple brew, so I do not want something dark like a porter. I want something crisp and summery.

How much of this thing should I use in a 5-gallon batch of home brew? I know the answer will be recipe dependent, but is it crazy to use the whole thing? Should some of it be used in a primary and some in a secondary?

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This site isn't really "about" recipe suggestions, there are many sites out there that contain those. –  baka Apr 2 '12 at 11:36

2 Answers 2

I've never used maple sugar but I imagine it would be very similar to using straight table sugar as far as recipes go. That means it will mostly ferment out and boost your ABV without necessarily adding any body or (much) flavor (I guess depending upon how dark the maple sugar is?). If you added it to an average pale ale my guess is you would get a very 'hot', strong ale with maybe a hint of maple.

Use Beersmith to estimate exactly how much a given amount will change the gravity of a 5 gallon batch. Probably the full pound will boost it quite a bit.

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I have no direct evidence, but I've seen dozens and dozens of posts online stating that maple is overwhelmingly flavorful in beer. Lots of people claim it takes months to settle down if you use too much. I'd ere on the side of caution and add only a little bit at the start. You can always add more to the secondary, a little bit at a time, to get the right level of flavor, but you can't take out the maple once you put it in! –  Graham Apr 2 '12 at 12:47
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Maple sugar != maple syrup. According to Wikipedia, maple sugar is about 90% sucrose (table sugar), the remainder mostly glucose and fructose. Not a fair downvote. –  bk0 Apr 2 '12 at 12:57
    
@Graham: As bk0 says, "Maple sugar != Maple syrup". Are there any small experiments one could do to verify how the flavour from maple sugar would work? I've seen maple sugar sold in seasoning mixes before for cooking and even for tea, and the maple flavour is present (though not at strong as a dark syrup) when cooked, but I don't know how it would work when fermented. –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Apr 2 '12 at 13:58
    
Doh!!! OK I stand corrected. –  Graham Apr 2 '12 at 14:17
    
If maple sugar has the same gravity contribution as other sugars, 1 lb. in 5 gal. will add about 9 gravity points. –  Denny Conn Apr 2 '12 at 15:30

To answer your question "What should I do with this maple sugar?" I'll say "put it on your oatmeal". Based on my own experience and that of several friends, it's nearly impossible to get maple flavor to come through in a beer. The fermentation blows away all of the delicate maple flavor and aroma. The one beer I've tried that had any maple character at all form sugar/syrup used so much that the beer has a strange "woody" flavor to it. The only beer I've tried that successfully had maple flavor used maple extract. So, the answer to your questions seems to be to save the sugar for use in something other than beer, where you can really appreciate it.

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I have had some good and strong-flavoured maple beers (so I know it's possible), but I suspect they were flavoured after fermentation. I also don't know if it they were flavoured extract, sugar, or syrup. –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Apr 4 '12 at 19:39

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