Better Beer Appreciation Through SMaSH Brewing


Single Hop FlowerDesigning your own custom beer recipe can be one of the most rewarding experiences for a homebrewer.  It’s equal parts art and science.  If you like studying the mechanics that shape the BJCP style guidelines, Ray Daniels has written what I consider the definitive manual on beer recipe design.  However, if you really want to wrap your head around how any one particular ingredient effects a beer recipe, try brewing a single malt and single hop (a.k.a. SMaSH) recipe.


SMaSH beers are the perfect way to familiarize yourself with the characteristics of a particular ingredient.  Drinking beers that derive their malt complexity from a long list of grains can make it challenging to understand how a specific type of grain contributes to the overall flavor of the beer.  Obviously, the same holds true for hops.  Different hops offer different flavors and aromas.  Some are earthy or piney, while others are floral or citrusy.  A SMaSH beer reduces this complexity, and enables you to focus on one malt and one hop characteristic at a time.

For my first SMaSH homebrew, I used Marris Otter and Amarillo.  The combination made for an outstanding APA, and it’s become a recipe that I brew somewhat regularly.

Homebrew Hooligan’s Marris Otter/Amarillo SMaSH
11.00 lb.  Pale Malt, Marris Otter
1.00 oz. Amarillo (boil 60 min.)
0.75 oz. Amarillo (boil 10 min.)
1.25 oz. Amarillo (boil 1 min.)
1.00 oz. Amarillo (dry hop – 3 days)
1.00 tab Whirlfloc (boil 15 min.)
Safale American Ale Yeast #US-05

Mash @ 154 dF for 60 mins.

Have you ever tried brewing a SMaSH recipe?  Which hops and grains did you use?

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One Response to Better Beer Appreciation Through SMaSH Brewing

  1. Marty says:

    I just did what I call a base malt experiment very similar to this. I brewed four batches of beer over two days using the exact same recipe except for a different base malt for each. I wanted to do them all the same day (or as close as possible) so that all four could ferment the same amount of time at the same temperature. My goal was to do a taste test and (assuming I’ve controlled for each other factor) be able to discern differences in flavor contributions from the base malt.

    Basic recipe, for about 3 gallons:
    7 lb. Base Malt
    .25 oz Cascade 60 min
    .25 oz Cascade 30 min
    .5 oz Cascade 5 min

    I used cheap Cooper’s ale yeast. The four base malts were Maris Otter, Vienna, Munich, and Briess 2-row. I liked the Maris Otter beer the best

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