Caramel Apple Ale


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Jul 11, 2012
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I'm working on a recipe for a caramel apple ale. The recipe below is my starting point. I'll explain what my plan is for this beer.

In the past I have made an apple ale. I made a 5 gallon batch of beer and split it 50/50 with another 5 gallons of cider. 5 gallons of the blend I kegged immediately to prevent the cider from fermenting. The second half I allowed to ferment out again. The one kegged immediately was too sweet and the other was too dry. My plan for this one is to ferment half of the cider and blend the two. Then blend that with the beer. My hope is that it provides a nice balance of sweet/dry apple flavor.

As far as the beer side goes, I'm trying to get a pronounced caramel flavor. Any ideas to expand upon what I've provided would be helpful.

I suppose my final thought is the hard cider will provide the apple flavors and the beer would provide the caramel flavors. Then the blend should be caramel apple goodness in a glass.

It seems there might be a few ways to produce a caramel flavor by using munich, crystal 60 or various other malts, even DME/LME. You could possibly try caramelizing them but it could be tricky to not burn them.

You could also make some candy syrup. I've tried this and tasted it in the various ranges of color to see what it would be. From the yellowish color I got a tangy lime-citrus flavor and as it darkened I got a dark fruit rummy kind of flavor. Somewhere in the middle could be a caramel flavor.

Find a yeast strain that can produce or enhance the caramel flavors. You might have to go outside of the temperature ranges to do it but that's the fun part. I just tried that with a Tripel and got a bold honey flavor coming through.
Here's an idea for caramel flavors: Draw off a quart of your first runnings into a saucepan. Over high heat, boil it, stirring frequently at first and constantly at the end, until you have a thick syrup. Add the syrup back to your boil. You've just made real caramel to go in your beer! If you want more caramel, start with a half-gallon of wort.
That salted caramel syrup is adding sodium, which you may not want.... Otherwise, why not, I'm the guy who dumped Hershey's Syrup into a secondary fermenter! I try to avoid extracts in my beers - find some organic apple juice, juice concentrate or even use pureed apples instead for a less soda-pop flavor, although real apple is going to produce a cider flavor rather than a cooked apple flavor. And if you want to sweeten it at the end to emphasize apple-pie flavors, add some lactose (not fermentable).
I've made an apple ale in the past so I definitely have that part down. I can get a nice apple flavor if need be. I'm mostly concerned about finding a nice caramel flavor.

The extracts seem intriguing, but I'd like to see if I can get it myself first. That might be a last resort.

I also thought about adding some vanilla into secondary to round out the caramel flavor a little.
The vanilla seems to be a good idea, would make it more a pie flavor....