I had my first SMaSH beer on Easter.
Single Malt and Single Hop beers appeal to me because I hate waste. All grain brewing in small batches requires you to buy more grain than you need and I am awful at saving leftovers. I purchase in pound increments, so when I see a recipe that only requires 0.1 pound of grain for several types of grain, I am hesitant to brew it. This rules out Stouts and Porters. Also, I hate buying large quantities of several varieties of hops. This rules out a lot of IPA recipes. Why does a recipe need to be so complicated? Depth of flavors? Sure, I get that, but beer can be simple and delicious and SMaSH ales prove that.
Chama River makes great beer and when I saw their Woodward SMaSH on the menu I had to grab a growler. I was not disappointed. It was very light and perfectly bitter – not a palate wrecker. I can now also say, confidently, I know what Amarillo hops taste like. SMaSH, besides requiring few ingredients, allows you to get to know your ingredients. Here are the Hop additions for Pliny the Elder as listed in Zymurgy, July/Aug 2009.
3.50 oz (99 g) Columbus* 13.90% A.A. 90 min.
0.75 oz (21 g) Columbus* 13.90% A.A. 45 min.
1.00 oz (28 g) Simcoe 12.30% A.A. 30 min.
1.00 oz (28 g) Centennial 8.00% A.A. 0 min.
2.50 oz (71 g) Simcoe 12.30% A.A. 0 min.
1.00 oz (28 g) Columbus* 13.90% A.A. Dry Hop (12 to 14 days total)
1.00 oz (28 g) Centennial 9.10% A.A. Dry Hop (12 to 14 days total)
1.00 oz (28 g) Simcoe 12.30% A.A. Dry Hop (12 to 14 days total)
0.25 oz (7 g) Columbus* 13.90% A.A. Dry Hop (5 days to go in dry hop)
0.25 oz (7 g) Centennial 9.10% A.A. Dry Hop (5 days to go in dry hop)
0.25 oz (7 g) Simcoe 12.30% A.A. Dry Hop (5 days to go in dry hop)
Pliny the Elder is an amazing beer. But after drinking it, do you know what Columbus, Simcoe, or Centennial taste like? No.
This might not be a big deal to some, but in formulating recipes, you need to know what an addition will do to your beer. Imagine a chef who doesn’t know what thyme tasted like because they had only ever tasted combinations of thyme, rosemary and oregano.
SMaSH beers seem like a great way to build up a recipe. Brew a 2 row and cascade hop SMaSH. Like it? Want more malt/caramel, throw in some Crystal 60. Now you have a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale without the Perle hops. Add the Perle, notice the difference? Add some Munich or Victory (like in Fat Tire).
When confronted with a recipe you know what each ingredient contributes to the flavor and aroma. The next thing to mess with – Yeast. Brew a pale ale with US05 and again with a Belgian yeast or British. Spicier, fruitier?