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On “Life Support”

Maple syrup for Life Support porter photograph by Kevin Litchfield

If you want to live in the Adirondacks you have to be resourceful. Some call it the “Adirondack Way.” Most of us juggle a couple of jobs at a time, often ones that cycle with the seasons: Schoolteachers might photograph summer weddings. Real-estate agents might instruct skiers. And magazine editors might serve beer at pubs.

My first four or so years in the park I split my time between jobs at Adirondack Life and Lake Placid Pub & Brewery. I won’t lie: it was lots of work that meant some very long days. But it was also fun. (A steady supply of delicious beer on the premises is hardly a drawback.) Today some of my closest friends are the servers, bartenders and cooks I met at the pub more than a decade ago.

These days I freelance write as a side gig to my position at Adirondack Life. But an Adirondack Life/Lake Placid Pub & Brewery combo still makes sense to me. That’s why I’m over the moon about our collaboration that we’ve named “Life Support”—a maple porter brewed at the pub made from maple syrup collected from sugar bushes in all 12 counties that make up the Adirondack Park. The idea to join forces was inspired by “Keg Party,” Lisa Bramen’s article in our March/April issue about the Adirondack craft beer renaissance, in which Lake Placid Pub & Brewery is featured. As we discussed the article we couldn’t help but get thirsty.

Lake Placid Pub & Brewery’s head brewer Kevin Litchfield came up with the recipe for Life Support. His goal, he said, was to brew a beer that tastes like “a full-bodied brown porter with subtle hints of maple, with a distinctive maple aroma.”

Kevin used seven malts, three additions of Chinook hops, and gave the beer a long boil “to accentuate the sweetness by caramelizing the sugars in the kettle,” he explained. He then added five gallons of syrup at the end of the boil. The beer was conditioned and clarified in one of the brewery’s new brite tanks (the brewpub recently expanded); then transferred to a serving tank, where three more gallons of maple syrup were added right before it was carbonated. The end result: 200 gallons of a 5% alcohol maple porter.

“Is it delicious?” I asked Kevin, who’s a friend of mine from my beer-slinging days. “Of course it’s delicious,” he told me. (Incidentally, the brewery made 35 different styles of beer last year. Their concoctions are consistently award-winning.)

Taste it for yourself tomorrow night, March 1, at 5 p.m., at our keg-tapping party at Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, though Life Support will be available at the brewpub throughout the month. The brewery’s beer geniuses, including Kevin and owner and brewmaster Chris Ericson, will be there, as well as a bunch of maple producers and some of us from Adirondack Life. We’ll hand out magazines, peddle our Life Support pint glasses and, of course, drink beer.

And for Lake Placid Pub & Brewery– and Adirondack Life–lovers who live in or around Manhattan: taste Life Support on March 9 starting at 2 p.m. at the Pony Bar on 10th and 45th. Brewery and Adirondack Life staff will be there, to step beyond the Blue Line for the occasion.

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