Hot Water Brewing Co and Gladfield Malt got together last month to make a single malt and single hop SMaSH beer. Hot Water's Jen Walker explains the decisions behind going SMaSH.
"The acronym SMaSH, while written with visual exaggeration, and explosive hyperbole, is actually one of the simplest recipes a brewer might have. The Single Malt and Single Hop beer well known within the brewing industry is and is not new to this era of craft beer.
"So why might a brewer choose this style? With a proverbial Pandora’s Box of endless combinations of flavours and aromas, why would a brewer choose a recipe consisting of just one malt and one hop, and take what may seem a step backwards within this growth of craft beer?
"One answer; to brew a beer with depth of flavour and showcase the ingredients within the product, sometimes restraint is needed.
"While this style is simple, it is also quite complex. Without the ability to create intricate flavour compounds through the use of many different malts and hops, and build a beer layered with personality, one must examine the qualities offered from just the malt and hop themselves. To brew a SMaSH beer is to brew a beer while knowing its ingredients intimately.
"Choice of ingredients then becomes key. While a brewer may have malts that have been time tested and a staple to themselves for reasons as simple as ‘it adds roast notes and colour’, a malt used for a SMaSH beer will be examined to each minuscule addition it brings to the beer.
"Does the malt contain the required enzymatic power to self-convert starches into sugars? Are the malt flavours strong enough to shine through the finished beer itself, or will the hop or yeast choice be the key that is showcased?
"At Hot Water Brewing on the Coromandel Peninsular, the choice to brew a beer with attention to detail started with New Zealand’s craft malthouse, Gladfield Malt. The SMaSH beer’s style spoke loudly when considering to brew a beer that showcased New Zealand ingredients, and what better way to showcase a malt than choose one produced from Gladfield.
"Vienna Malt became the SMaSH beer’s malt of choice. Vienna offers a sweet malty character, coupled with a light toast and biscuit notes. It is a versatile malt which can often be found in a brewer’s bag when crafting a recipe. Due to its golden amber colour and ability to create a thick white head within the brew, this malt has the ability to become a flavourful base malt of its own. Gladfield’s rendition of the malt offers the usual characteristics expected from a Vienna malt, but with a Kiwi twist.
"Single Malt aside, that left a Single Hop to be chosen to juxtapose the sweet malty body that would be brought from the Vienna. After deliberation from hops grown locally to New Zealand and harvested, we chose the hop more recently renamed in honour of the ‘father of New Zealand hops’, Dr. Rudi.
"Intended as a bittering hop, but possessing an oil profile that could be considered a dual purpose hop to modern craft styles, Dr. Rudi was initially released in 1976, and would provide the resinous pine and lemon citrus aromatic qualities while also delivering the quality crisp bitterness to balance the malt.
"Finishing the SMaSH beer, was the choice to use a yeast strain that would not provide an aromatic and flavour profile of its own, but allow the malt and hop chosen to become their own stars.
"With this hyperbole of a beer in production, and showcasing the restrained side of a craft beverage, what will we see next emerging from the craft market’s depth, where like the ocean, is yet to be explored.
"Look out for Hot Water Brewing/Gladfield Malt SMaSH - coming soon to a tap near you!"