Maple syrup producers classify their product into different grades based on color, flavor, and the point in the season at which it was harvested. Color and flavor can vary somewhat due to factors like geography, weather conditions, and the specific techniques used by individual producers.
The lightest color, purest, and most delicate grade. Golden syrup is usually associated with the first sap flows of the sugaring season.
As the season progresses, the syrup darkens and develops a more robust maple flavor. Amber is typical for recipes where you want the maple flavor to shine through but not dominate.
The robust flavor is more pronounced than Amber syrup and the subtle flavors found in Golden and Amber are often masked by the maple flavor. Dark amber color and robust flavor where you want a strong maple flavor.
The darkest of all the grades and made very late in the season. It has a very intense, strong maple flavor. Often used in commercial food production and in recipes where a very strong maple flavor is needed.