Beer: Sap Vampire Maple Lager
Brewery: Amber’s Brewing Co. (Edmonton, Alberta)
Style: Flavoured Dark Lager
Alcohol: 5.3% ABV
My introduction to maple-flavoured beers ended with a nasty hangover the next day. Between two of us, we consumed a six-pack of the beer (called Red Maple, if I recall correctly) and then a few fizzy yellow lagers before calling it a night. Both of our heads were thumping in the morning.
Since then, I’ve learned not to categorize any maple beer as session beers. They can be quite tasty, but the sugar content will kill ya.
I’ve generally thought of flavoured beers as ales, but Sap Vampire from Amber’s Brewing in Edmonton, Alberta is listed as a lager. An odd choice to flavour a lager, I think, but to each their own.
The beers pours from a 341mL bottle a brilliant red amber colour with a thin, off-white head that quickly dissipates (very quickly; I think the brewery has issues with head retention). It’s quite clear, with plenty of tiny bubbles streaming up from the bottom of the glass.
With a maple beer, you’d think you’d get a strong aroma of maple syrup, but the maple nose is a little weaker than I would have thought. In fact, it creates an odd contrast with the amber malts that I’m not so thrilled with. Still, it’s definitely maple. Not surprising, hops seem to be missing from the aroma.
The beer is a little thin in body, but that’s the least of its concerns. The maple and malts don’t play well together, instead providing a strong astringent quality that is unpleasant and lasts through the finish. It’s like sour apple coated in a light maple glaze dancing on my tongue (and that sounds better than it tastes). The slightly sweet maple flavour is weak and is dominated by these unpleasant off-flavours.
I like beer. I like maple syrup. What should be a uniquely Canadian beer is ruined here by a sour astringency that has no right being in this kind of beer. Even forgetting the maple element, lagers should be crisp and clean, not tasting like apples that have gone rotten on the tree. I really wanted to like this beer, but something needs to be done about the off-flavours.