Using Maple for a stout - advice

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by GetMeAnIPA, Oct 4, 2018.

  1. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Zealot (541) Mar 28, 2009 California

    I have read many threads about using maple on both BA and other sites and based on that, along with what is available to me I plan to use one of the below methods. What method and or advice would you recommend? Also, I have some questions about the methods.

    1) adding Maple to the keg. I plan to let the beer condition for an extended period of time, cold condition and add gelatin. My thought is to get out as much yeast as possible so it won’t ferment the maple.

    The two questions I have on this is 1) how much maple should I add 2) should I brew a beer with a higher finished gravity in case the maple does ferment out so I don’t end up with a dry stout

    2) maple infused spirals. How much and how long to let the beer sit on the spirals? The website I found doesn’t specify the weight of the spirals. The description is a pack of two and could take up to 6 weeks. Does aging the beer cold versus warm impact how fast the beer absorbs the oak/maple flavor?

    Should I do both? Only downside is adding both is costs. Maple is $20-$30 and the spirals with shipping is @$20

    I haven’t built the recipe yet but I was thinking of doing more of a breakfast stout with coffee. Should I skip the coffee in case the coffee overpowers any subtle maple taste that does come through?

    Thanks for any advice/help. Cheers.
    brutalfarce likes this.
  2. wasatchback

    wasatchback Aspirant (270) Jan 12, 2014 Utah

    What ABV are you shooting for?
    brutalfarce likes this.
  3. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Zealot (541) Mar 28, 2009 California

    8- 8.5%
    brutalfarce likes this.
  4. Brewday

    Brewday Initiate (118) Dec 25, 2015 New York

    Would it work if you add the maple to the keg when the beer is cold so it doesn't ferment. I would also skip the gelatin.
    spersichilli and brutalfarce like this.
  5. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Zealot (541) Mar 28, 2009 California

    Yeah that’s my thought. Condition it and transfer it cold.

    Why skip gelatin? I always use gelatin on any none hazy/ne style ipas. I’ve always had good results with it. Clears my beers perfectly.
    brutalfarce likes this.
  6. dmtaylor

    dmtaylor Aspirant (204) Dec 30, 2003 Wisconsin

    Add sorbate with the maple to stabilize and prevent further fermentation. Yeast hates sorbate real bad and would rather lie down and sleep than ferment in presence of sorbate.
    SFACRKnight and brutalfarce like this.
  7. wasatchback

    wasatchback Aspirant (270) Jan 12, 2014 Utah

    Yeah at 8-8.5% if you added it to the keg and kept it cold you’re good. If it was say closer to say 12% I don’t think you’d even need to keep it cold. You could fine it or cold age it, both work. Personally I’d maybe add it twice. Reduce some down until it’s so unbelievabky thick and add it at WP or during fermentation. Then add it to the keg if you need more.
    GetMeAnIPA and brutalfarce like this.
  8. Brewday

    Brewday Initiate (118) Dec 25, 2015 New York

    That's where i'm confused. You want to clear a stout.
    brutalfarce likes this.
  9. wasatchback

    wasatchback Aspirant (270) Jan 12, 2014 Utah

    He probably wants the least amount of yeast in the beer as possible to minimize refermentation as much as possible.
    LuskusDelph likes this.
  10. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Disciple (393) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    I'd put new grade robust flavor maple syrup I. A secondary or after primary ferment is done and add a spiral of sugar maple wood to the keg. Not maple infused. Properly aged sugar maple wood will give a lot of maple flavor by itself with no fermenting?

    Don't know how long the stout would be good seeing I have left maple wood in no longer that 4 weeks.
    Gsulliv2 and GetMeAnIPA like this.
  11. minderbender

    minderbender Initiate (187) Jan 18, 2009 New York

    Just to expand on this a little, the grading system changed a few years ago. The old system prized light color over other qualities, which had come to be an outdated way of thinking about what makes for high quality syrup. (Under the old grading system, a lot of people said, "B is Best," because Grade B had a more robust maple flavor than Grade A. This was confusing to anyone who took the letter grades literally.) The old grades were done away with entirely (or I guess strictly speaking, they were all merged into "Grade A"), and now the labeling uses words to differentiate the syrup by color and degree of flavor/robustness.

    So what I think GormBrewhouse is suggesting is to use syrup labeled "Dark Color and Robust Flavor," which roughly corresponds to old Grade B. This makes sense because old Grade A, which is now known as "Golden Color and Delicate Taste," would contribute relatively little in the way of maple flavor. And even "Amber Color and Rich Flavor" would probably not provide as much character as you are looking for.

    [Edited to add a clarification: I'm simplifying the correspondence between the new grades and the old ones, it is actually more complicated than I indicated, but I think these details can be ignored.]
    #11 minderbender, Oct 5, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2018
  12. Granitebeard

    Granitebeard Initiate (97) Aug 24, 2016 Maine

    I am interested in this kind of thing too and without going to adding maple when kegging, I have thought about using spirals. A guy in my homebrew club did a quarter spiral for 3 weeks and it was more woody than maple in many peoples opinions. It was still good, but I am interested in what kind of maple wood gets the best maple flavor.
    pweis909 likes this.
  13. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Zealot (541) Mar 28, 2009 California

    Exactly as @wasatchback stated to try and clear as much yeast out as possible to prevent it from fermenting the maple. I am not overly concerned with a clear stout even though I think the more partials that can be removed from suspension the better to create a cleaner beer. However, if I wasn’t using maple I would skip the gelatin.
  14. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Zealot (541) Mar 28, 2009 California

    So the only thing I can find is maple infused spirals like the one here:

    Well at least I think they are maple infused.
  15. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (95) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    I'd be surprised if those are non-maple spirals that are infused with sugar maple "essence". It's more likely they're made from sugar maple and spiral-cut to increase surface area and enhance 'infusing' the sugar maple characteristics to whatever liquid.
    If wood chips/cube made for grilling/smoking would work they're available on ebay and Amazon.
    GormBrewhouse likes this.
  16. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Zealot (541) Mar 28, 2009 California

    That makes sense because it says “infusion” versus “infused”.
  17. Brewday

    Brewday Initiate (118) Dec 25, 2015 New York

    I've always wanted to try putting the keg in hot water to kill the yeast but i'm not sure if this would be dangerous or screw the beer up.
  18. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Disciple (393) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    Yes, nicely done Mr Mindbender.

    New grading system aledgidly used to increase sales. I never had a problem selling my product with the old system.
    minderbender likes this.
  19. JohnnyChicago

    JohnnyChicago Crusader (795) Sep 3, 2010 Illinois

    I’ve read of old German breweries who would do this. A sorta slow pasteurization. Something like 40 min. at 60°C. I used to have a pasteurization time/temp chart around here...

    The primary concern would be speeding up staling by heat exposure. Heat damages beer pretty quickly. There’s a reason people use flash pasteurization nowadays. Still, if you ever do it, I’d be curious to hear the results!
  20. JohnnyChicago

    JohnnyChicago Crusader (795) Sep 3, 2010 Illinois

    OP, for a beer that size, I’d recommend dosing in the keg. Removing as much yeast as you can and adding sulfites will help, but loading sugar in an unpasteurized beer is just asking for refermentation.
    I’d recommend fining in your fermenter and then racking the brite beer to the keg. Hook up the co2 to the beverage port, bubble co2 through, and add some syrup. Taste and add more if you feel like it needs it. You can age in your kegerator, but you are probably good to drink immediately.
  21. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Zealot (541) Mar 28, 2009 California


    Does the abv matter? As wasatch mentioned a higher abv beer would help to prevent refermentation. 12% would be too high but I could bump it to something like 10% if that helps
  22. JohnnyChicago

    JohnnyChicago Crusader (795) Sep 3, 2010 Illinois

    It can help. I’ve heard some success with maple barrels retaining some syrup sweetness in big beers, but if just adding the syrup to finished beer, I don’t see any reason to try to make the beer warm shelf stable. Especially if you add coffee. Do any extended aging in the fermenter, then add your coffee and syrup to the keg. Further aging the beer at room temp is very unlikely to make it better and very likely to make it worse.
    GetMeAnIPA likes this.
  23. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,755) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    Let me bounce a thought... since maple sweetness ferments out, making it hard to find maple flavor when syrup is fermented, and since crystal malts can add sweetness to beer, is there a crystal malt out there that best compliments a maple syrup addition?
  24. donspublic

    donspublic Poo-Bah (1,608) Aug 4, 2014 Texas
    Premium Trader

    You could also go the route that @DrewBeechum recommends and use a fenugreek tincture
  25. Brewday

    Brewday Initiate (118) Dec 25, 2015 New York

    I'm half German so that explains where i get these crazy thoughts but i will try it sometime.
    JohnnyChicago likes this.
  26. MrOH

    MrOH Champion (848) Jul 5, 2010 Maryland

    The best maple beer I've ever made was a BSDA. Used a fairly large (for me) amount of mid-range crystal for sweetness, just enough Special B for the low end of the color spectrum, Grade B maple for the sugar addition, and added a fenugreek tincture to taste.
    donspublic and pweis909 like this.
  27. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,755) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    Cool. I was at a tasting party tonight where everyone was passing around commercial pastry stouts. I didn’t know about the theme. My old ale and saison were mere palate cleansers by comparison (but appreciated for not being yet another bourbon vanilla coffee thing). Thinking something with maple to up my game with this crowd. The only time I tried it was back when I had fewer than 10 batches under my belt. I tried the fenugreek truck as per Radical Brewing and it added a maple aroma but offputting flavor. @DrewBeechum has suggested on his podcast that there are different varieties of fenugreek and some are grassy and not what you want. It could be that’s what I ended up with.
    donspublic likes this.
  28. MrOH

    MrOH Champion (848) Jul 5, 2010 Maryland

    Fenugreek literally means "Greek hay", so grassiness isn't too surprising. It definitely adds a bitterness, no matter what variety you use.
    I made the tincture by toasting the seeds and soaking in bourbon. I think if I ever try to do this again, I'll try using a bourbon-soaked maple spiral as well.

    As a side note, I've been to style-themed tastings as well, and I don't really like them. At a certain point, your palate just wears out tasting the same thing over and over. It's like being a beer judge, except there's no real "Hey, this brewer deserves a medal!" moment, just confirmation of biases about certain breweries, with a few surprises and disappointments mixed in.
    pweis909 likes this.
  29. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,755) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    Next to a bunch of pastry stouts, my grisette-style saison went down like water, but it was such a welcome change.

    I just browsed the Wikipedia entry on fenugreek and it says seeds are sometimes roasted to reduce bitterness and enhance flavor. I do not know if the seeds I used came roasted. If they do not come roasted, that might be something to explore.
  30. Brian29

    Brian29 Devotee (444) Nov 15, 2013 Ohio

    2 cents.
    I expermented with the thought process on a small batch pilot system. Added maple syrup grade B to the keg in cold storage. I considered gelatin to help remove suspended yeast but skipped the step. It was gross. Undrinkable gross. Maple syrup is delicious. In a glass is grotesque.
  31. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Zealot (541) Mar 28, 2009 California

    Wait what? You added maple and it tasted gross with the beer? Why was it gross? I’ve had multiple beers with maple that are great.
    dmtaylor and GormBrewhouse like this.
  32. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,469) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    My first thought when I read the post was quantity/concentration or maybe uneven mixing (which amounts to sort of the same thing), but I'm interested to hear what @Brian29 has to say.
  33. Brian29

    Brian29 Devotee (444) Nov 15, 2013 Ohio

    No no, i love maple beers. Good Morning. MBP. KBBS, on an on amongst my favorites.
    The technique of adding maple directly to the keg and not allowing it to ferment produced an utterly grotesque outcome.

    Attempting to find the right flavor to match those elite maple beers, i experimented with adding grade b to the keg and not allowing it to ferment by keeping it at serving temp from addition on. I can say strongly and definitely this is not the method those breweries use. In any amount it was undrinkable.

    The other experimented techniques:
    1. extract
    2. a substantial amount of grade b at flameout, 3.aged on wood that had previously been soaked in maple all yielded much better results.
    GormBrewhouse likes this.
  34. Brian29

    Brian29 Devotee (444) Nov 15, 2013 Ohio

    I believe treehouse uses 2gal per bbl of grade b. It ferments out but enough to leave behind flavor.
    MBP used a spent maple barrel.

    Oh i also experimented w maple flavored coffee beans. Its essentially an oil sprayed on coffee beans.
    So four methods all yielding better results than maple in keg.
  35. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Zealot (541) Mar 28, 2009 California

    Can you explain what made it gross? Too much maple, too sweet, fermented out and dried the beer out?

    I bought some fenugreek and I am going to make a tincture and see how that turns out before adding maple.
  36. Brian29

    Brian29 Devotee (444) Nov 15, 2013 Ohio

    The maple didnt ferment out by design. The beer had already been moved to secondary and off its yeast cake. I skipped gelatin. Crashed.

    Added maple directly to keg while the beer was at serving temp. Carbed.

    Carefully evaluated results.
    Released c02. Added more maple. Recarbed

    Any observed amount using this method was hideous. Sweet. Unsettling. Disgusting.
    GetMeAnIPA likes this.
  37. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Zealot (541) Mar 28, 2009 California

    What extract did you use?
  38. Davl22

    Davl22 Aspirant (231) Sep 27, 2011 New Hampshire

    Another alternative that I've used is soaking an oak spiral in a maple whiskey and adding in secondary. There's a maple whiskey made in NH called Cabin Fever that uses real maple syrup and cold filters, leaving a ton of maple flavor behind without the intense sweetness.
    GormBrewhouse and GetMeAnIPA like this.
  39. ECCS

    ECCS Initiate (168) Oct 28, 2015 Illinois

    Here’s a thought...

    Brew the stout, keg it, carb it like normal.

    Then do scales down experiments in 32oz growler (or any other size). You could put real maple at the bottom of the growler, fill the growler from the keg, let it sit for a few days to mix/settle, then taste.

    Then you could do a maple extract in the growler, fill, taste, repeat.

    Then a fenugreek tincture, then the maple/oak spirals, etc...

    Keep copious notes on ratios so you can scale up whichever you like the best
    ShabamJenkins likes this.
  40. ECCS

    ECCS Initiate (168) Oct 28, 2015 Illinois

    Is there a source to this? I assume it’s added during boil or flameout?