My brewing friends and I have three solid years of brewing under our belts (literally), but we had only used extract. We just recently made the rite-of-passage switch to all-grain brewing, and it was a glorious thing. I was excited to make a batch without that slight “twang” that comes from brewing with exctract, but really didn’t know much about the flavors of the new world of grains I had available to brew with.
Now, I’m a programmer by day and a homebrewer by night (actually by weekend). Like many of my other hobbies, I tend to bring my programmer’s mind to what I’m brewing. As long as we were brewing with all-grain, I wanted to really be able to taste the difference without the beer being layered under a bunch of steeping grains and adjuncts. After some late nights and research online, I discovered SMaSH brewing.
SMaSH stands for Single Malt and Single Hop, which describes how recipes of its kind are put together. Not only can you make great beers SMaSH style, but you can learn a lot about the flavor profiles of different types of grains and hops. Normally when you brew, you mix both fermentable and unfermentable grain types, as well as hop types, to make a complex beer. SMaSH reduces that, and lets you taste exactly what a single grain or hop type contributes in flavor.
Nate recommended the following to start with:
- 10 lbs maris otter pale malt (mash at 152 degrees for 60 minutes)
- 1 oz amarillo hops for 60 minutes
- 1 oz amarillo hops for 20 minutes
- 1 oz amarillo hops for 5 minutes
- Safale 04 yeast
He said it would taste a lot like Sweetwater 420, and it really does. Floral and citrusy, very clean and crisp with a nice golden color. It’s so interesting that such a great beer could be made with such a simple recipe. This proved to me that a recipe doesn’t have to be astonomically complex to be good… it just has to be balanced.
In addition, I now have a very good handle on exactly what maris otter and amarillo bring to the dance the next time I put together a recipe. I have plans for several more SMaSH beers, using regular pale ale malt, Vienna, and Munich. Billy over at billybrew.com wrote a very interesting article about SMaSH brewing for extract brewers too.
If you get a chance, you should really try making a SMaSH brew. Not only will you likely come up with a great beer, but you’ll get a deeper understanding of flavor components as well.