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What is SMaSH brewing

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

Beers are complex. They typically consist of several types of malt, some base, some specialty, and this lends to the complexity of the beer. In the same sense, many beers use more than one hop type, again adding to the complexity and dimension of the beer. Beer is the sum of all of its parts, but to create it you must understand each singular part.

SMaSH stands for single malt and single hop. The acronym was coined by a group of dedicated brewers at the popular home brewing forum HBT (http://www.homebrewtalk.com). A SMaSH brew is a way for any brewer to really get a feel (taste) for any base malt and any hop variety. It is also a very economical way to brew as it minimizes the cost of the batch.

SMaSH brewing is an excellent way to learn about the flavors various malts and hops impart on a beer. By focusing on just one grain and one type of hops in a recipe, you can truly get a feel for the flavor of the malt and hops used. This being said, unless you are experimenting with the properties of different yeasts, you will want to keep to a clean fermenting yeast like S-05, WLP001, Nottingham etc. Otherwise, the flavors contributed by the yeast will begin to overshadow those from the malt and hops.

A typical SMaSH recipe would resemble the following:

Malt:

  • 8 lbs Maris Otter
  • Mash for 60 minutes at 153F

Hops:

  • 1 oz Centennial @ 60 min.
  • .5oz Centennial @ 10 min.
  • 1 oz Centennial Dry Hop

Yeast:

  • SafAle S-05

Though not complex, a SMaSH brew will not only showcase the properties of the single malt and single hop being used. It can and will create a clean and easy drinking beer that will remind you with each glass of the properties of these individual ingredients. When formulating recipes, you will know if Maris Otter will suit your recipe better than Rahr 2-row pale malt. You will also have a better idea of whether or not you would prefer Centennial or Cascade in a certain recipe as well.

In order to formulate a recipe and enjoy the sum of all the parts, you need to understand the properties of each individual part. Do some experimenting, use your hop of choice for bittering, flavor and aroma. Explore the ability of the hop to create a favorable outcome in each of these roles. You may enjoy the bitterness of Centennial, but not the flavor or the aroma…. so be sure to use it in each of these capacities in your SMaSH.

One variation on this method is to split the batch into several parts. Brew a SMaSH brew and then split the 5 gallon batch into (5) separate 1 gallon batches. Pitch a clean fermenting yeast into one batch (WLP001, Nottingham, S-05) and then use any other yeasts that you are interested in testing into the other fermentors.

At this point you will have a simple beer where the yeasts properties can shine through. The clean fermenting yeast will provide a control, a flavor profile that all of the other yeast varieties can be judged against. With one 5 gallon brew you will be able to experiment with (5) yeasts and explore the properties of the malt and hops chosen for the SMaSH.

Update 9/23/2009:  Modified post to clarify origins of SMaSH acronym.

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  1. 8 Responses to “What is SMaSH brewing”

  2. i’m a big fan of two-grain brews — 50% pale and 50% munich 10, for instance, was the basis of a great red/amber that i brewed recently.

    i’ve also often wondered if you could brew a relatively traditional brown porter with 100% crystal 40 or even crystal 80.

    i’d not thought about doing the same for hops, though — i’ll definitely have to start trying that out. thanks!

    By Ethan John on Sep 5, 2009

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