Designing 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?