Sap Beer Stories!
Do you or a relative have a memory of sap beer? Share it with us! Post your sap beer story to the VFC Facebook page, send an email with “Sap Beer Stories” in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at (802) 388-4964!
Here’s a sap beer story from Bob Hazleton:
Bob Hazelton, born and raised on a farm in Londonderry, VT describes how is grandfather, “Pac” (Walter Merrill Hazelton, 1888-1981), made sap beer.
Wow, had to go into the memory archives for this one. Dad never got into the beer-cider-wine-liquor creations—he left that to Pac, who would and could make spirits out of anything and everything. His recipe was just sap and yeast. He seemed to have a knack for that “stuff.” He’d boil the last run down “some”—whatever “some” is—and then add maple syrup to get it just to the right sweetness for his palate. If it was too sweet, it’d come out “ropey” (sorta like a stringy gelatinous substance), and if the sap wasn’t sweet enough, it soured. As for the yeast, I never paid any attention as to what type of yeast or the amount. However, when I would talk to him about it, whether it be sap beer, hard cider, or mash liquor, he always just said “yeast,” so I can only deduce he was referring to just plain bread yeast. Back then, I’m sure that’s all you could get in ‘Derry.
One had to be very patient, trusting, and hopeful, for you’d keg the boiled down sap and added yeast in late March, let it sit undisturbed in the cellar over on the wall opposite the bottom of the stairs and then, three months or so later, tap the keg and judge whether you’re a culinary genius or a complete idiot!
The stuff used to last. Pac told me about the time he stopped the men snowplowing the winter roads (one was Leroy Williams, the other was Roy Mathews). As we lived at the end of the traveled road, the trucks would turn around in the driveway. It was late at night and Pac got their attention by waving the flashlight from the front porch. Knowing Pac, he was a very hospitable man and wanted to give the men “pick-r-upper,” and he offered them both a tall glass of his sap beer. He said he felt pretty smug about it for they couldn’t stand up after drinking it—must have been pretty potent stuff.