Annual birch sap harvest headed for Yukon beer glasses

Thousands of litres of birch sap have been boiled down to 400 litres of concentrate at Uncle Berwyn's Yukon Birch Syrup operation for Yukon Brewing.

14,000 litres of birch sap have been boiled down to a concentrate for Yukon Brewing

Lyndsay Berwyn Larson's birch sap concentrate passes the all-important sugar test at Yukon Brewing. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

Yukon Brewing's annual shipment of birch sap concentrate has arrived where it will eventually be used in one of the brewery's northern themed beers.

Lyndsay Berwyn Larson made the delivery Monday from his operation —  Uncle Berwyn's Yukon Birch Syrup — on the McQuesten River in central Yukon.

The two barrels containing 400 litres of concentrate represent 14,000 litres of birch sap, Berwyn Larson said.

They were tested at the brewery to make sure the sugar content was high enough for beer-making.

It had to be at least 26 per cent sugar and Berwyn Larson said the concentrated sap passed the test.

Berwyn Larson and his family tap about 1,500 trees each spring. (Meagan Deuling/CBC)

Berwyn Larson taps 1,500 trees each year. He said each tree gives up about six to 12 litres of sap per day.

"We just love doing this," said Berwyn Larson.

"They make a really nice beer, so we really appreciate people doing fun and interesting things with our syrup," he said.

Jonathan Zaugg, the head brewmaster at Yukon Brewing, said the birch concentrate is added to the beer before the fermentation stage.

Zaugg said the taste of the finished product is hard to describe, but it's a unique made-in-the-Yukon flavour.

Jonathan Zaugg, head brewmaster, says Yukon Brewing values the unique flavour the birch sap brings to beer. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

Berwyn Larson said this year's 13-day tapping season was shorter than normal. He said it was brought to an end by several days of hot weather.

There are relatively few birch syrup operations around the world,  he said, partly because it's a lot of work and is tricky to make.

Berwyn Larson said he has had customers from countries around the world, including Denmark, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Japan.

Part of his fee for the delivery to Yukon Brewing, he said, will be paid in beer.

With files from Philippe Morin and Meagan Deuling