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Is it possible to add less maple syrup later in the boil or even after the boil and get a comparable flavor to adding more earlier in the boil?

It seems like we should be able to essentially "dry hop" the beer and pitch some extra yeast to deal with the sweetness and avoid some of the expense of purchasing so much delicious local maple syrup from our farmer's market. I want to support the farmers but not that much. :)

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When you rack to secondary, add the syrup, and then rack again after the second fermentation is complete... Brandon: Do you recommend that you pour the syrup directly into the secondary? Also how much is normal for a 5 gallon batch? I have both Grade A - Dark Amber & Grade B - We just brewed an Oktoberfest. –  user2290 Mar 29 '12 at 21:38
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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I like your interest in efficiency.

I've always added maple syrup after primary. It creates a second fermentation, but if you add it during the boil, you lose much of the aromatics and get a harsher, woodier flavor. This is true to a lesser effect if you add the syrup before primary, so to avoid flavor and aroma being carried away with CO2, you should add it as late as possible.

If you add it after primary, it's a good idea to go ahead and rack as you would to secondary, then add the syrup, and then rack again after the second fermentation is complete. This way you don't risk autolysis from the beer sitting on old lees too long.

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-1 You do NOT lose any aromatics in maple syrup. For the love of all that's holy, maple syrup is taken from maple sap (think something that looks like water) and then BOILED FOR HOURS until IIRC 100 gallons of sap boils down to 1 gallon of syrup. –  Pulsehead Nov 19 '10 at 14:07
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You absolutely do too. Here's a good test: can you smell it in the boil? Because if you can, then you're smelling molecules that are no longer in the beer. –  Brandon Nov 19 '10 at 15:02
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Do as we do in cooking: layer the flavour by adding the syrup both during the boil and after (just cute the dose). –  Bruce Alderson Nov 19 '10 at 17:55
    
My experience with maple syrup: I made a maple porter and added grade B maple syrup right at the end of the boil (basically just enough to dissolve it). The maple syrup took nearly a year in the bottle to really shine. –  Bad Neighbor Mar 30 '12 at 0:08
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IME, the best way to get maple flavor on the beer is to use maple extract.

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You may want to consider using fenugreek instead of maple syrup. That would definitely fall in the realm of experimentation since I haven't used it personally and can't offer ammounts to use or when. But, it may be able to give you the maple you want at a lower cost, and lower impact on your OG/FG.

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