A SMaSHing Good Beer: Long Trail’s SMaSH Project

On the docket:  12 oz. can of Long Trail’s SMaSH Project (Munich and Equinox)

Poured into:  River Horse Pint Glass

S:  A thick, creamy beige head sits crowning a burnt-sienna, clear body.  It sits and sits, gently receding, leaving heavy, plastic soda-ring like lacing.  It settles down to a full but very thin cap on the top of the beer, the tiniest of bubbles rising to the surface.

A:  Woodsy, herbal hops and brown bread crust feature prominently in this simple and clean brew.  Cedar, mint, eucalyptus and earthy aromas are made possible by the single Equinox hop varietal.  The malt here is toasty, brown, homemade bread crust.  There is a hint of bitterness here, too.

T:  Due to being a SMaSH beer, much of the aroma is also found in the taste profile.  The Equinox provides a woodsy, spicy, minty, medicinal hoppiness and bitterness.  The Munich malt, made famous by those festive German lagers, shines through with brown bread, graininess, and a touch of caramel sweetness.  The benefit of this type of recipe is that it allows a drinker to truly get an understanding of the flavors of both ingredients.  For something approaching 7% abv (6.8%), there’s no sign of fusel alcohol flavors or that warming sensation.

F:  Medium, with fine carbonation.  Drying, bitter finish that lingers just a bit before dying off.

O:  An excellent way to experience a single malt and hop type.  Clean and easy to drink.  Tasty amber ale.

Suggested food pairing:  Pan-fried, quality hot dogs on whole wheat buns, Dijon mustard and Kosher garlic pickles, hamburgers with lettuce, tomato, and onion, grilled meat, earthy, nutty English cheese

A SMaSH hit!: A brief look at SMaSH beer

It was a hot summer day in Pearl River, NY.  We walked into Defiant Brewing and I spied on the menu an odd looking beer title:  SMaSH.  It was early in my craft beer journey, so you know I had to try it.  It was my first encounter with those cherished four ingredients, composed plainly and beautifully.  Years later, finally, I’m starting to see them more often.

With all the craziness and pushing of the beer-envelope, I knew it was only a matter of time before the pendulum started swinging back the opposite way.  Enter SMaSH beer.  Home-brewers have been at this for decades, finding beauty in simplicity.  With the release of Southern Tier’s 2XSMaSH and Long Trail’s SMaSH project, and other breweries jumping on the wagon, I felt it was time to post on it.

So, what is a SMaSH beer?  Single malt and single hop beers are exactly what they sound like:  water, yeast, hops, malt.  It’s getting back to the basics, and learning to appreciate one hop varietal and one malt type.  I found an easy-to-understand article on a blog after a quick search for SMaSH beer.  An added benefit of SMaSH beer is their wallet-friendly production cost on home-brewers and breweries alike.

There are challenges in creating a finely-tuned SMaSH beer, though.  While you to want the ingredients to shine, they should compliment each other.  Not all styles are suited for a SMaSH treatment.  Though most recipes are American Pale Ales and IPAs, there is room for experimentation.  Whole online communities and forums exist for the love of and brewing of SMaSH beer.  To put my money and beer where my mouth is (the later being the more enjoyable of the two), I will try to acquire a few examples and review them in the coming weeks.

Come along with me on my SMaSH hunt and tell me what you find, if the style works, and which is your favorite.