On my recent post about SMaSH Brewing, I described how you make these beers using one type of malt and hop. Since my first mash was an all-grain recipe, it was straightforward to buy a single type of grain. My savvy readers, however, cleverly asked if it is possible to brew a SMaSH beer with malt extract, since extract may contain more than one type of malt. From a purist's standpoint, a SMaSH beer can only hold that title if a single malt was used.
This sent me down the path to answer the question: Can you truly make a SMaSH beer from malt extract?
Investigating Malt Extract
Malt extract is basically concentrated wort, or sugar-water that allows brewing without the more extensive equipment needed for brewing all-grain. It comes in both dried (DME) and liquid (LME) form. But what malts (and how many) are used in making malt extract?
It's not too easy to tell. Most homebrewing websites don't say exactly what malts constitute the extract they sell, but everything I'd heard said that they're usually a blend of malts.
I had more success going directly to a manufacturer's website. Look at the description for the Briess Light Extract:
Even in their light-colored extract, Carapils is added to the base malt. orry, no SMaSH using Briess.
Were there any extracts made from only one malt? Not giving up hope, I turned to the trusty HomebrewTalk forums to find out.
From Munton & Fison:
Dear Christopher, Our Pale Malt will only ever have this one type of malt in. We don't blend with carapils. Good luck with your brew.
Dr Nigel Davies
Manufacturing and Technical Director
So there you have it. You can brew a true SMaSH beer using Muntons DME, which only contains pale malt. Here is the extract version of my recipe, substituting pale malt for the vienna malt.
SMaSH Malt Extract Recipe
Batch Size: 5.25 gallons
Original Gravity: 1.051
Final Gravity: 1.012
Estimated ABV: 5.2%
Estimated IBU: 45
6 lbs. Muntons Light Dry Malt Extract
0.5 oz. Simcoe (60 min)
0.5 oz. Simcoe (15 min)
1.0 oz. Simcoe (flameout)
Yeast: Safale US-05
As someone on HomebrewTalk pointed out, even if you use a blended malt extract, it is still a valuable learning experience. You can try different brands and see which ones taste the best. Learning is the point, after all.
Still, for a homebrewing geek like me, it is satisfying to know that my SMaSH is really a SMaSH.
– Ryan who first asked this question and is also the inventor of the kSMaSH, the “kinda SMaSH” brew for when your extract is just kinda pure.
– Chris, who contacted Muntons and got the valuable info. He's also a fountain of brewing knowledge and spreads it around by teaching his buddies.