Beer From Here: North High Tree Tapper Maple Brown

Written by on November 22, 2016 in Beer, Beer from Here - 5 Comments


Now that it looks like colder weather is actually here to stay, drinking a cold-weather beer is much more appealing. Browns are some of my favorites because of their robust flavor and smooth drinkability. North High offers up a rustic take on the brown by adding Ohio Maple syrup to the batch and naming it Tree Tapper, a great way to stay local and seasonably festive.

On the nose, Tree Tapper is interesting, to say the least. Immediate notes of cocoa powder and chocolate syrup arrive first, followed by a mild nuttiness. Some bread crust and crackers are present as well, but they are pushed away by a sticky wave of brown sugar and vanilla. Notes of coffee bean layer in next, providing some roastiness. But, above all of this, an odd scent of butter hangs over everything, contributing a “buttered popcorn” vibe that doesn’t mix well with the rest of the aroma. In fact, the combination of the butter, chocolate, and sweet notes creates an aroma akin to an artificial vanilla coffee creamer. I wanted this to be a flaw with this one can, but I had another on hand, and it had the same buttery cloud as well. Not the best of starts, but I hoped it would be absent when drinking.

It was not. The flavor begins malty, with crackers and bread crust providing the base. Cocoa powder and chocolate syrup return, as do notes of coffee and sticky brown sugar. But, unfortunately, the butter is just as present in flavor as it is on the nose, more than likely a product of diacetyl (it’s a butter-flavored organic compound that occurs during fermentation). It does fade a bit if you let the beer sit a while in a glass, but it never goes away completely. Additionally, the maple flavor is reduced to a lingering sweetness, without actually coming through as “maple”. If one is familiar with the taste of pure, high-grade maple syrup, you might be able to discern it through the other flavors, but it is not prevalent. All together, it again creates an “artificial coffee creamer” flavor that is too sweet and cloying for me.

I wanted this beer to be awesome, because it seemed the perfect fall beer. And, it could still very well be, and I just happened to get two “not up to par” samples. But, from what I tasted, this beer isn’t for me. The maple was absent, the sweetness too high, and the butter flavor overpowering. If you have tried this from cans (or even on tap somewhere) and found it to be vastly different from what I’ve described here, enjoy! And let me know where you found them, because I’d love to try this as it should be.

About the Author

Paul is an English and creative writing graduate and homebrewer who loves beer, writing, writing about beer, and drinking while writing. When he's not browsing beer sections for hours on end, (or coming up with his own brew recipes) he can be found over at, inventing words and somehow managing to make sense.

5 Comments on "Beer From Here: North High Tree Tapper Maple Brown"

  1. kevin November 23, 2016 at 2:09 AM · Reply

    Agree with your tasting notes…at the very least the beer is poorly named as I found little to no mapple coming through.

    • Paul Gardner November 29, 2016 at 11:11 AM · Reply

      So, I’m not sure what grade of maple syrup North High used, but from personal brewing experience, (and hearing the laments of many brewers) I know that maple in beer can be a bitch to nail down. One reason for this is because it is such a readily available food source for yeast, those little bastards can tear through the syrup without allowing much of the aromatics to come through.

      This can also be compounded with the fact that, up until recently, the “lower” the grade of the syrup, the higher the aromatic quality (grade A was light in color and aroma, where as grade B was darker, and more rich. Now, everything is just various kinds of grade A). So, though logic and example have typically told us grade A is “the good shit”, it is not always true, especially for specific applications of maple syrup. Again, North High could have used grade B, or even C syrup, and the yeast could’ve just sprung a massive maple boner and went ham.

      I still hold out hope that we just found bad cans. Maple beers are damn tasty during this time of the year.

  2. Jonathan Strong January 3, 2017 at 8:46 AM · Reply

    Hello Paul,

    I haven’t been able to find North High Tree Tapper Maple Brown Ale in any of my local stores. Where would be the best place for me to find it so I can give it a try for myself?

    • Paul Gardner January 15, 2017 at 3:05 PM · Reply

      If they are still available, I would check out Crafted Drafts in Gahanna, or Wine and Brew Emporium in Westerville. Aficionado’s up by Polaris has a decent selection of beer as well. Those three are in my “stomping ground”, so I’m sure you could find it elsewhere, but if you’re over near the north eastish side, check them out.

  3. Jonathan Strong January 18, 2017 at 8:52 AM · Reply

    I actually drive home off of 161 east and down Hamilton Rd to get to my house, so Crafted Drafts is on the way. I’ll check out Aficionado’s as well since I’m in the Polaris area anytime I go to see my partner Sheena at work for lunch on my days off. Thanks a bunch for these recommendations Paul!

Leave a Comment