I held off on writing this review because I wasn’t sure how I was going to approach it. First of all, in our October Tasting Box, we received two little bottles of maple syrup: one Grade A Medium Amber and one Grade B. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write two separate reviews for the syrup, or if I wanted to do one comprehensive review that included a taste comparison between Grade A and Grade B.
Once I decided to write one comprehensive review (this review), I then contemplated how to approach the taste test. I didn’t want to test it out on pancakes or something, because, quite honestly, while making pancakes is a simple process, it is a lot of preparation for a taste test. I ultimately decided to do the taste test on toasted 8-grain bread and also to add just a little syrup to a sampling of Grand Tea’s Premium White Peony Tea (which I was reviewing separately, but was interested to find out how maple syrup tasted with it).
Anyway… here goes!
Where to Buy: Ben’s Sugar Shack on Foodzie
Price: $19.99 for a 16-ounce jug of Syrup (your choice: Grade A or Grade B)
About Ben’s Sugar Shack:
My passion for making maple syrup started when I was 5 years old. The first year I made less than a gallon of syrup. Ten years later, at age 15, I won the Maple Producers Carlisle Trophy for the best syrup in New Hampshire. Now, at age 21, I have two sugar houses, a variety of maple products, and am still expanding my business. I hope you enjoy my maple syrup!
What I Think:
So, by now, you may be wondering, just what is the difference between Grade A and Grade B. Well, it really doesn’t have anything to do with purity or one being “better” than the other. They do taste different, and I’ll get to that in a moment, but the real difference between the two grades is the time of year that it is harvested. Grade A maple syrup is harvested earlier in the year than Grade B.
But after opening each of these cute little bottles that I received in the October Tasting Box, I noticed a couple of other differences. First of all, there is a slight difference in color. The Grade B is very slightly darker. It is very slight, though, and something that you might not notice unless you held it up to the light. Second, the Grade A had more crystallized sugar formed at the rim of the bottle. I don’t know why that is.
But what really counts is how they taste, right?
Both syrups are obviously sweet and maple-y. The Grade A had more of a sugary kind of taste to it, perhaps because of the slight crystallization? I don’t know, but I noticed that as I was eating the toast topped with the Grade A Maple Syrup, it had a more distinct sugar-like quality to it. It certainly offers a fair representation of maple flavor, although I must admit that it is milder than I expected.
But then, when it comes to the maple syrup that I buy, I generally choose Grade B. Why? Because Alton Brown does, or so he said in one of his episodes. And Alton Brown is all about “Good Eats” so when he makes a suggestion concerning food choices, I generally listen.
And in the case of this taste test, the Grade B did have a stronger maple-y flavor. It tasted less like “sugar” and more like maple. I found this to be the case not only with the toast test, but also the tea test. I like the Grade B better (although both were delightful and I certainly wouldn’t turn away from a bottle of Grade A if offered at the breakfast table).
Now then, in terms of branding … I don’t know that this Maple Syrup from Ben’s Sugar Shack is any better than another brand of Maple Syrup. You see, the only maple syrup I have on hand at the moment are these little bottles I received in the tasting box, mostly because I’ve been making my own syrup (Chai Syrup, inspired by my trip to Bumblekiss Cafe) and it is considerably more economical than the average price of a bottle of pure maple syrup. I will say that the price of Ben’s Sugar Shack Maple Syrup seems to be comparable to those that I’ve found in the grocery, and that’s refreshing, especially after reading a bit of Ben’s Story.
My Final Thoughts:
I really enjoyed this taste test, and am very glad that I had this opportunity to compare for myself the difference between Grade A and Grade B Maple syrups. When I am in need of maple syrup (I guess when I get tired of making my own chai syrup?) I will definitely consider shopping with Ben’s, if for no other reason than I appreciate his passion for Maple Syrup, and it reminds me a bit of my own passion for tea.