Explaining Maple Syrup Grades
Learn About the Different Grades of Maple Syrup
Maple syrup changes its color and flavor as the season progresses. Early in the season the color is typically lighter. As the season progresses to mid-to-late spring the color turns darker. The syrup has the same sugar concentration (67%) and density throughout the season, but the type of sugar changes. Mid-to-late season sap has more of what are known as "invert" sugars and after we evaporate this sap into syrup it results in a darker color and a stronger maple syrup taste.
In 2015 the USDA issued new rules to ensure consistent standards for grading across the United States. All syrup suitable for retail sales is now known as GRADE A. Four Grades where introduced based solely on color. The vast majority of all retail sales are either Grade A Amber Rich or Grade A Dark Robust.
The former Grade A syrup is now known as Grade A Amber Color Rich Taste.
The former Grade B syrup is now known as Grade A Dark Color Robust Taste.
What's the best grade of maple syrup? Choosing a maple syrup grade is often a matter of personal taste. Below is a table showing some general information, but any grade can be used for any purpose. At Barred Woods we follow strict grading standards, so you can be assured once you find something you like you will be able to buy it reliably.
Grade A amber syrup is the classic maple syrup grade and is the best choice for all around use or for a gift. Its taste is often described as buttery or like butterscotch. Dark Robust syrup has a stronger caramel like taste, sometimes with hint of vanilla mixed in. Very Dark syrup has the strongest taste. It is produced right at the end of the season and can start to have a hint of chocolate taste.
Grade A vs Grade B Maple Syrup Explained
There is a lot of confusion around Grade A versus Grade-B maple syrup. We'll try our best to clear it up.
In 2015 the USDA issued new rules to ensure consistent standards for grading across the United States. There was a market perception that Grade B syrup was somehow inferior to Grade A maple syrup so the USDA and other agencies issued regulations saying all syrup suitable for retail sales is known as GRADE A syrup. Four Grades were introduced based solely on color. Technically there is no such thing as Grade-B anymore.
The former Grade A maple syrup is now known as Grade A Amber Color Rich Taste.
The former Grade B maple syrup is now known as Grade A Dark Color Robust Taste.
If you order Grade A Dark Robust it is the same thing as the former Grade B. The sticker on the the jug will say Grade A Dark Robust.
Now here's the tricky part. Informally, many people still refer to dark syrup as Grade B (or B grade syrup). They expect the same dark syrup they were use to. So at Barred Woods Maple we list our dark syrup as "Grade A Dark Robust (Former Grade B)" so that they can still find it. Additionally, we do not ship syrup that is marginally classified as dark, but rather we ensure all of our dark syrup is well within the color and taste range of dark syrup. So if you are looking for Grade B syrup go ahead and order our Grade A Dark Robust (Former Grade B), you will not be disappointed!