“Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication” – Leonardo da Vinci
I like to think Ole' Leo was referring to homebrewing, and specifically to SMaSH beer – the model of brewing simplicity.
What's a SMaSH beer you ask?
It stands for Single Malt and Single Hop. I recently discovered it while spending way too much time on my favorite forum, HomebrewTalk. Inspired, I created my first SMaSH homebrew using Vienna Malt and Simcoe Hops.
The SMaSH Philosophy
Here's the idea. You brew a beer using only one type of malt and one type of hop. That's it.
Homebrewers will immediately see that this is contrary to current brewing wisdom. In these days of imperial this and barrel-aged that, a beer this simple seems like a trip back to the caveman days.
And therein lies its beauty.
A simple beer recipe can taste just as good as a complicated one.
It Makes you a Better Brewer and Beer Drinker
The great thing about SMaSH beers is that they train you to identify specific ingredients. In an IPA with 5 hop types, it is near impossible to pick out one particular variety. Same goes for a recipe that uses 7 different malts.
With a SMaSH beer, you know exactly which malts and hops contributed the flavors and aroma you experience. You can use that knowledge to pick out those flavors in other beers and to improve your homebrewing recipes.
So how did mine turn out?
Technically an American Pale Ale, it's got a pleasant toasty flavor from the Vienna malt which also contributes a dose of sweetness to balance the beer. The moderate simcoe hopping gives off pine and citrus flavors and are very aromatic. In short this beer is crisp and refreshing while maintaining great taste.
Plus now I know exactly what Vienna malt and simcoe hops taste like.
The recipe is below for those wishing to try their hand.
Vienna-Simcoe SMaSH Beer Recipe
Style: American Pale Ale
Batch Size: 5.25 Gallons
Efficiency: 73% Efficiency
Pre-boil Gravity: 1.042
Original Gravity: 1.052
Final Gravity: 1.010
Estimated ABV: 5.5%
Estimated IBU: 39
12lb. Vienna Malt
Mashed at 155 degrees F for 60 minutes
0.5 oz. Simcoe (60 min)
0.5 oz. Simcoe (15 min)
1.0 oz. Simcoe (flameout)
Yeast: Safale US-05
I think Leo would be proud of this beer.
What do you think of the SMaSH concept? Have you brewed one yourself or plan on it?