My First SMaSH


Baskets, Bunnies, and Beer.

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?


Time to Refocus

My adventures in homebrewing started with a bang and slowly fizzled – or quickly gushed.

My first batch – a Brooklyn Brew Shop IPA kit – was a success. My equipment was spanking new and therefore clean. It was a great day of brewing with my Brother in Law. The temperature in my house was just under 70, which was good for the US 05 yeast. We drank our IPA and patted ourselves on our backs. This homebrewing thing is easy.


Our second batch was a smoked wheat – which is not always available. Another fun brew day, but we ran in to problems quickly. We used a thinner mash, drank more while brewing, and the weather was warming up. I tried a lot of new techniques on this batch – like fermenting in a bucket of cold water – which makes it hard to pinpoint a single point of error. The beer was not bad, drinkable, but all the changes made me wonder if it was our fault it wasn’t delicious or if I just didn’t like the style. My BIL loved it, so I will chalked this batch up to my tastes, but in the back of my mind, I failed somewhere.


Three strikes and I was out. The third batch was a failure – all gushers. The brewing seemed to go much better – except I did try to do an infusion mash instead of just pouring over which resulted in a mess. We also topped off with tap water. It was the peak of summer and unbelievably hot – which was not good for fermentation. This was the first recipe not from a kit. I think the failure was primarily due to poor sanitation. I am lazy to wash my bottles after drinking, so they sit for months before I brew. I am also lazy to clean in general. I got lazy and sloppy and paid the price for it.


The third batch disappointed me. Not cleaning was the real problem but I blamed it on summer. I stopped brewing. I decided I needed a mash tun (cooler) and a wine fridge to convert to a fermentation chamber. Not wanting to spend the money, I never got back in to brewing.

It has been some time now since I brewed and I have been reading BYO and Zymurgy again. I am refocused. I know I don’t need any more equipment, but more dedication to cleaning. If I am going to do it, I need to stop cutting corners and go all in. I also need to brew beers like Saison in the summer when it is too hot to ferment anything else. I read an article the other day where the author said “if you’re like me you have experienced a batch ruined by infection.” This made me feel so much better. Yes, I slacked on cleaning. But. infection can hit even those who try their best to prevent it. It happens to the best of us, but way more frequently to the lazy of us. 


I will stop being lazy and start getting my brew on!


Sierra Nevada Clone

In my post on Paler than Paul Ale, I said I posted a recipe but I did not-the recipe was for a Fat Tire clone. Here is the Sierra Nevada Clone recipe:
FG: 1.011
SRM: 10
IBU: 38
ABV: 5.4%

2lb(32oz) 2 Row Pale Malt

2.2oz Caramel Malt 60L
.1oz (2.8g) 4.4AAU Perle Hop 8.8% Alpha (90 min)
.2 oz (5.6g) 6 AAU Cascade Hops 6% Alpha (45min)
.3 oz(8.6g) Cascade (0 min)

Wyeast 1056, WLP001, or US-05
mash 155(68) 60 minutes. Raise to 170(77) for 5 minutes. Sparge. Boil 90 minutes
Ferment 68.