Surly Bender clone with Maple Sap

Surly Bender clone with locally harvested maple sap...

So, I'm in search of the perfect brown ale, and have already come up with a few great browns. GimmeThatNut Brown was a nice tasty nut brown and the first beer I kegged. My Native Brown ale was my second attempt at a brown ale and that one was even better. I used locally grown cascade hops and took a recipe that was practically a light porter or stout and hopped it like it was an IPA. My friends and I loved this one, and I still have about a gallon or more in my keg at home. Very tasty. So, I decided that since I love the Surly Bender so much, that I'd try and do a clone of that, and use my locally harvested Maple sap as my water source. I ended up collecting about 7 1/2 gallons of Maple sap from the Silver Maple in my backyard.

It took a little longer then I thought. About a week. It was interesting to tap my tree, because I learned a lot about how maple sap flows. See, when the weather would get down below freezing at night and then stay fairly cool during the day, the sap would flow real good, rushing up from the roots, and up into the branch's to supply the new buds with much needed sugar for proper development. But last week that only happened a couple days. I ended up with 7 1/2 gallons and used a bit of tap water to top that off for my mash and sparge water! I noticed in the boil that it had a nice woody smell and hopefully that will be noticeable in the final product and, also, hopefully it tastes good. Unique for sure, but good and tasty is yet to be decided.

Here is the recipe I used. I utilized a couple different resources to formulate it. A couple people have attempted it, and experimented with it and I used their recipe's and also used what I know based on tasting Bender and also what Surly has available on their own website.

American Brown Ale (Surly Bender clone) with Maple sap

OG 1.064
FG 1.016
IBU 43
ABV 6.2 %
SRM 35

Boil Volume 6.5 gallons
Batch Size 5 gallons

% Weight Weight (lbs) Grain
62.7 % 8.00 Breiss Two-row Pale
5.9 % 0.75 Breiss Crystal 60L
7.8 % 1.00 Breiss Crystal 80L
2.0 % 0.25 Castle Malt Belgian Aromatic
15.7 % 2.00 Flaked Oats
5.9 % 0.75 Breiss Chocolate
Weight (oz) Hop BoilTime IBU
1.00 Willamette 60 21.0
0.50 Columbus 15 14.6
0.25 Columbus 10 4.9
0.25 Columbus 5 2.7
2.00 43.2

Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale (2 packs) at 64 degrees for 3 days then raised to 68 degrees for 2 days. Fermentation looks to have stopped.



Tasting Notes:  This turned out to be an interesting experiment.  The beer is amazingly complex with coffee, chocolate, woody, malty flavors.  It's got a nice smooth, slick mouthfeel.   My only issue is, the head retention is not present at all.  It looks like a head is going to form, and then it just completely dissipates.    Not sure if it has to do with the water chemistry in the Maple sap that I used as my water, or if I need to add some wheat, carapils, or something like that to aid head retention.  I'll be tweaking the recipe next year to accommodate this issue.   I'm currently letting it age a bit as I have about 9 bombers left.

I just saw on brewing TV that they finish with the Willamette hops for Bender.  Probably use a bit more of belgian aromatics. Try Columbus for bitter, and then willamette for finishing.   The recipe as is is alot like Summit Winter.  With the adjustments it'll taste more like Bender.


  1. Awesome idea! Should be interesting none the less. I'd kill for about a gal of that sap to boil down for my next brew.

    Do you know of anyplace locally that you can buy raw sap like that? I'd probably just end up boiling it down to a light syrup anywho but it would be nice to have some local stuff.

  2. I'm pretty sure that most people just start boiling it down as soon as they harvest the sap.

    I just lucked out. My buddy told me about the idea, and I looked out my back door and saw my Silver Maple literally weeping sap. Tapped it and walla! I think it'll be tasty!


  3. Yeah, I'll prob just have to grab some syrup and call it a day.

    Good luck!!


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