hist-brewing: sugar substitution

Cindy Renfrow renfrow at skylands.net
Tue Dec 29 12:51:49 PST 1998


Waverly Root, in his book "Food", gives a lengthy essay about maple sap,
syrup, & maple sugar.

Yes, the temperature is critical for sap flow, but the colonists didn't
know that. That is why you're unlikely to find info in Williamsburg.
Thomas Jefferson tried & failed to establish a Maple sugar industry in

Maple syrup, & especially maple sugar, were produced in commercial
quantities in colonial times. Root says the indians were making maple sugar
& using it as money.  It was the sweetener of choice in the colonies
because, unlike sugar & molasses, it was locally produced. By the 1800s
approx. 20 million pounds of maple sugar were produced in the US.

The earliest ref. I've found to maple sap being used in brewing was an
American maple beer dated 1846.  But Root quotes a Rev. Nathan Perkins
(1789) as saying "Maple cyder is horrible stuff."

Again, it's very costly & time-consuming to produce, & why waste it on
fermentables when it's much better on pancakes?  Yum! ;-)

>Hi Cindy:
>So they knew of harvesting sap.  That is one point we do not need to
>establish, then.  But we still would need to find something that points to
>the manufacture of maple syrup early enough.  Still have not ruled out a
>trip to Williamsburg Public Records.  As if I need an excuse :).
>I happened to run into a reference about an attempt to make a sugar maple
>industry in Europe and it was a failure.  Seems the weather has to be very
>cold at night and fairly warm during the day to get the sugars to come out
>in the sap.  This does not happen in Europe like it does in the U.S.
>The reference was from the Maine home page.  No dates or references (what do
>you expect?), but some interesting stuff, none the less.
>BTW, Owen was even more right than I knew.  The sap will go bad in a few
>hours, according to the stuff I read.

It needs to be properly processed to avoid spoilage, unlike honey, or it
will go moldy.  BTW, if you're buying in quantity for brewing, I'd buy the
grade B, not the grade A fancy tourist stuff. B has much more flavor.


>Doug Baden    My opinions are my own.
>When I see "And it is obvious that" I know that
>I have many hours of work to see the obvious...

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