The SMaSH Beer Experiment

SMaSH - Single Malt and Single Hop. It's a simple type of beer. More like a group of beers. There isn't a ton that can go wrong when you start with such a huge restriction, and that's the whole point. Almost all beers rely on multiple different types of grains. The roasty, chocolate flavors and deep dark color of stouts and porters come from dark kilned or roasted grains. These grains are amazing and delicious, but they aren't enough to get the job done by themselves. They simply don't contain enough sugar to power a fermentation of any kind of beer. Using enough dark grain in this way would create the most acrid, burnt, tongue blastingly tart brew if it was not so acidic that it didn't slay your yeast outright.  You need a second type of malt - a base malt. Washington grown Pale Two Row, the base malt that Intrigue brews with, has lots of sugar and lots of the enzymes needed to change those sugars into a usable form by yeast. If you want to make a Stout, you need at least these two categories of grain. Stouts, porters, and anything darker than a brown is right out if you are trying to make a single malt beer. 

Likewise with hops, the complexity of a highly hoppy beer like most pales, ambers, reds, or IPAs usually need to be created using multiple hops. A single hop flavor is not something you often find in richly bitter beers. Hops can be added at different times during the brewing process to add more complexity from a single hop (for example, adding hops early to the boiling wort will produce bitter flavor and adding them as the wort is cooling will allow the aroma of the hop to stick around without adding much bitter flavor). However, most modern brews take advantage of this trait in addition to using different hops to get the complexity and bitterness intensity that they want.

That leaves a small variety of brews that you can make with a SMaSH recipe. Simple American and British Pales, Lagers, Creams, Kolshes, and Blondes to name most of them. Perhaps an underwhelmingly simple IPA thrown in, too.  We've been in the middle of a dark beer kind of phase over at Intrigue. Along with some recent equipment upgrades and process changes, we have a need for a new baseline. A series of SMaSH beers will help us find that. While there is no recipe yet, and even if there were it would likely change slightly from batch to batch, here is what I know about The Intrigue SMaSH series. 

  • Washington grown, Washington Select Pale 2-row as it's one and only malt. The go-to pale base malt. Lots of sugar, not much color. A very versatile grain.
  • Amarillo hops as the one and only hop. Amarillo is a versatile hop used for its aroma and bittering characteristics. It's commonly found in SMaSH beers.
  • Two different yeasts will be used - either a dried ale yeast or a dried lager yeast.
  • Between 4%-7% alcohol.
  • Between 4-6 beers depending on how strong they end up being. 

The goal is to drive efficiency of the brewery up and solidify on a process that will produce consistent and perfect beer. By the end of the series, Intrigue Beers will be better than ever!

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Have any questions about SMaSH brewing? Take it to the comments below!