This past weekend I was at 10K Brewing and got to sample their Maple Black Ale. I’ve had maple stouts before, most notable Sugar Shack from Third Street, and found them to be enjoyable. However, because maple syrup is pure sugar, and yeast eat sugar, you have to be very careful in how you brew your beer and when you add your maple syrup. If the yeast eat too much of it you end up with a little bit of maple essence, but not a big maple taste. If you kill the fermentation and just add it at kegging, it can sometimes be too cloying with a syrupy texture that doesn’t go well with beer.
However, at 10K I had one of the best maple beers I’ve ever had. I was so intrigued by how rich the maple flavor was I stopped the beertender and asked him about it. It turns out they use a maple extract for their flavoring. That way they get all of the maple goodness, but none of the sugar and sweetness. I was shocked by this, since as many who know me can tell you, I can taste chemical extracts like crazy. Many of the fruit ones are unpleasant to me, and they stick to my throat with a weird solvent taste that just doesn’t go with the fruit flavor.
That was until I had this maple beer. I got none of the chemical taste, and instead it was just pure maple goodness. I need to try brewing with this at home sometime, in particular my black ale. I think this could be a great winter beer for the cold months when maple flavors are comforting and warm.