Exploring the Simplicity of SMaSH Brewing
Are you exhausted from navigating through an ocean of ingredients while concocting your homebrew recipes? Do you frequently find your beer lacking focus and clarity due to an overwhelming array of hops and malts? Well, worry no more because there’s a solution that will allow you to truly appreciate the distinct contributions of each ingredient: SMaSH brewing.
SMaSH, an abbreviation for “single malt and single hop,” is a minimalist brewing approach that enables you to simplify your recipes and unlock the true potential of each ingredient. By utilizing only one type of malt and one variety of hops, you can delve deep into the flavors and aromas they offer. Of course, water and yeast are still essential, but let’s keep it simple and stick with the catchy abbreviation.
Get to Know Your Ingredients
If you genuinely want to comprehend the unique characteristics of your brewing ingredients, consider experimenting with large single-malt mashes. Divide the mash into multiple boil kettles and employ a different hop variety for each batch. Alternatively, you can keep the hops consistent and vary the single-malt worts. If neither option is available to you, try using different yeasts for identical batches. By tweaking these minimal variables, you’ll acquire invaluable knowledge about the impact of ingredients on the final product. You might be astonished by the enhancements you’ll achieve when unnecessary specialty malts and hop additions are eliminated.
Expanding the Horizons of SMaSH
While SMaSH brewing is an exceptional learning experience, it’s natural to desire a bit more variety as time passes. That’s where the brilliant Drew Beechum comes in. He has developed a slightly more intricate version called “brewing on the ones” that provides greater freedom while still embracing the constraints and creativity of limited ingredient choices.
In addition to the base malt and hop, “brewing on the ones” introduces one ingredient from each of the following categories: color/flavor malt or adjunct, sugar, and spice. By incorporating these additional ingredients into a SMaSH recipe or any other simplified recipe, you can completely transform the beer’s style. Sometimes, it only takes a few subtle additions to evolve from one style to another, as brilliantly demonstrated by John Palmer in his book, How to Brew.
- Pale ale: base malt plus a half-pound of caramel malt
- Amber ale: pale ale plus a half-pound of dark caramel malt
- Brown ale: pale ale plus a half-pound of chocolate malt
- Porter: amber ale plus a half-pound of chocolate malt
- Stout: porter plus a half-pound of roasted barley
For more detailed information and a myriad of recipes, we highly recommend reading Drew’s article on “Brewing on the Ones” in the November/December 2012 issue of Zymurgy and downloading his presentation from the 2012 National Homebrewers Conference.
Unleashing Your Creativity
As you gain confidence and knowledge through SMaSH brewing and the “brewing on the ones” approach, you’ll eventually discover that your recipes can benefit from a bit of experimentation. It’s natural to deviate from the strict one-of-each method and explore the potential of additional ingredients. However, it’s crucial to ask yourself two important questions: What does each ingredient bring to the recipe? And is it genuinely necessary?
The beauty of brewing lies in the infinite possibilities for innovation. So go ahead, embrace the simplicity of SMaSH brewing, delve into the captivating world of “brewing on the ones,” and don’t hesitate to embark on a journey of recipe creation that reflects your unique taste and style.
Share your SMaSH and “Brewing on the Ones” recipes in the comments below! We’d love to hear about your brewing adventures.
Image credit: Hook’d Up Bar and Grill