With all your pandemic brewing, you may be running out of ingredients and ideas. Perhaps it is time to do something simple and delicious.
Enter the SMaSH. SMaSH stands for Single Malt and Single Hop, and it is a great way to make a beer that highlights the ingredients. Depending on your choice of ingredients and quantities, you’ve got some options as far as style goes too. Pilsner, Vienna Lager, Munich Dunkel, Blonde Ale, IPA, Barleywine are all options for SMaSH brewing.
Designing the recipe is pretty easy. Choose a base malt. Choose a hop. Choose a yeast. Using a brewing program, you can build the recipe to however you like it (or based on the amount of ingredients you have).
Here’s an example:
I’m going to brew an American blonde ale. I really like using local ingredients as much as possible so I’m going to use Premium Pale malt from Maker’s Malt in Rosthern, Saskatchewan and Galena hops grown at JGL Hop Farms in Moosomin, Saskatchewan. We don’t have any yeast labs in Saskatchewan so I’m going to use Cali Ale yeast from Escarpment Labs in Guelph, Ontario.
I want this to be a pretty easy drinking blonde so I’m going to go light on all the ingredients. I want a lower ABV and light bitterness.
100% Maker’s Premium Pale Malt to reach 1.038 OG
.3 oz JGL Hop Farms Galena whole leaf hops at 60 minutes for 15 IBUs
2 oz JGL Hop Farms Galena whole leaf hops in whirlpool at 170°F
1 package Escarpment Cali Ale yeast
Brew according to your setup.
This should yield a pretty simple, easy-drinking beer that highlights the Maker’s Premium Pale malt and the JGL Hop Farms Galena hops. The Cali Ale yeast is pretty clean and should stay out of the way of the malt and hops.
The cool thing is, you can make another batch of the identical beer and just tweak one of those ingredients. JGL Hop Farms is currently growing some Cashmere hops, so later in the summer, I’ll hopefully get my hands on some of that and I could rebrew this recipe using them. It will really help me get an idea of what Cashmere hops add to a beer, beyond what Google will tell me.
If you’re not content using just one malt, you can follow Drew Beechum’s example and use his technique he calls “brewing on the ones”.
To keep things simple, Drew uses one ingredient from just a few different categories: one base malt, one specialty malt/adjunct, one hop, one yeast and one other. This can really expand your options for beer styles.
As John Palmer tells us in How to Brew, it doesn’t take much to go from one style to another:
Make a Pale ale by using your base malt plus half a pound of caramel malt.
Make an Amber ale by adding half a pound of dark caramel malt to a pale ale.
Make a Brown ale by adding half a pound of chocolate malt to a pale ale.
Make a Porter by adding half a pound of chocolate malt to an Amber ale.
Make a Stout by adding half a pound of roasted barley to a Porter.
If you look up the BJCP guidelines (bjcp.org) for these styles, it will help you really dial them in as far as bitterness and gravity goes, but it can be really quite simple to design a recipe and to use your ingredients intentionally.
Take a stab at brewing up a SMaSH, you may find its simplicity to be quite satisfying.
Check out Drew Beechum’s experimentalbrewing.com and John Palmer’s Howtobrew.com.
As usual, you can reach me with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org