Announcing The Session #125 SMaSH Beers

The Session #125: SMaSH Beers

The next installment of The Sessions, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, on 7 July 2017, will be hosted here. This is #125 and the topic is SMaSH (single malt, single hop) beers.

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

The Session, or Beer Blogging Friday

Our local, annual SMaSH Fest, part of Central Oregon Beer Week, happened two weekends ago. Sadly, I missed it this year due to a bout of illness. When considering whether I was going to make it or not, I jokingly asked myself if single malt and single hop beers can be considered a “thing” (trendy, etc.) until we have coffee-infused, barrel-aged, and fruit SMaSH beers. Maybe we do; I have not seen them yet though.

I will hopefully have brewed my first batch of beer—ignoring that attempt in Belgium in the early 1980s—between this announcement and The Session itself and, wait for it, that beer will be a SMaSH beer. It will be an all-Oregon, not too hoppy American pale, if anything.

So, at the moment, at least, it appears I think they have some value.

Here are some potential directions you could consider:

  • Answer my question above. Are they trendy? When would they be considered to be trendy? Have you seen/had a variant (x-infused, fruit, …) single malt and single hop beer? More than one?
  • What purpose do SMaSH beers fill? For you, personally, and/or generally.
  • Do they fill a niche in any beer style space? One that matters to you? Are they a “style,” however you define that?
  • Have you ever had an excellent one? As a SMaSH beer or as a beer, period.
  • Do you brew them?
  • Are there any styles besides pale ale/IPA that can be achieved via a single malt and single hop beer? (How about achieved versus done quite well.)
  • Do they offer anything to drinkers, especially non-brewing drinkers?

I consider this to be wide open and am interested in your thoughts, whatever they are, regarding SMaSH beers. I sincerely hope this is not too limiting of a topic in the number of people who have tasted and/or brewed single malt and single hop beers.

Resources

Some resources–mostly brewing-focused, sorry–about single malt and single hop beers:

Brewing

Keeping it Simple with SMaSH Brewing [AHA]

Single-Malt Brewing [All About Beer]

Brew Your Own 20/4 Jul/Aug 2014 Single Malt and Single Hop 55-64

Zymurgy 40/2 Mar/Apr 2017 Uncommon Taste of Place SMaSH recipe 35

Style Guidelines

Neither BJCP 2015, NHC 2017, Brewers Association 2017, World Beer Cup 2016, or GABF 2017 have anything on them based on searches for “smash” and “single malt.”

Event

This looks like an interesting set of events and I wish more breweries did something similar:

SMASH Vertical Tasting Event

For General Beer Drinker (non-brewer)

I did try to find anything specifically directed more to the drinker/general consumer rather than the brewer but I could not find any. I would be interested in anything along that vein any of you have seen.

For instance, neither Mosher Tasting Beer, 2nd ed. or Alworth, The Beer Bible or Oliver, ed., The Oxford Companion to Beer have anything on SMaSH beer, although single-hopped does make an appearance in some of these.

How to Participate in this month’s The Session

On Friday 7 July, you may comment on this post and leave the URL to your Session post in your comment, or you may email me with your URL at mark . r . lindner @gmail . com, or you may tweet your link with the hashtag #thesession and it wouldn’t hurt to @ me too @bythebbl.

By the way, my blog’s comments are moderated for first-time commenters but it will be quickly approved as long as it doesn’t look like spam.

Within a day or two of the first Friday (July 7th) I will post a round-up of all of the submissions with links.

Beer Lover’s Gift Wish List 2014

This is my 2014 Beer Lover’s Gift Wish List which consists of things I am recommending for assorted reasons. Some I own and/or have used and some I have not. I will make it clear which is the case.

[Note: Having ordered something from this list as I constructed it over the last couple days has reminded me why I need to post this earlier if I am going to. Some of these cannot arrive before Christmas at this point but some can. There are also many other, and more appropriate, gift giving opportunities than Christmas.]

1. First up is something we bought personally from the creator at Fall Fest in Bend. We had been looking for a bottle opener that fully respects bottle caps and was ergonomic to use. Beautiful is also a definite plus.

Bottle opener by SJ Woodworks

Bottle opener by SJ Woodworks

Bottle opener by Steve J. Bonora of SJ WoodWorks  $18

It works beautifully. Here’s hoping it lasts a long time.

2. BottleTrade has several things but tshirts mostly. My favorite tshirt is the Hop Medley one. But my favorite item is the His & Her Stout Glasses. Check out that while you can get one or the other, you can also get a pair in all four possible combinations of His & Hers. That’s sweet and should be supported for that reason alone. I have a pair on order and maybe some as gifts too. They will arrive late for Christmas at this point but it is “the thought ….”

3. Educational and reference tools abound. The Cicerone Certification Program has several useful items that any serious beer geek who is trying to improve their knowledge base should appreciate.

I have a set of the Beer Styles Profiles Card Sets and I am also in the process of completing the Road to Cicerone German Course. Either that or the new British and Irish course would help anyone wanting to know more about the styles of those countries and certainly help anyone studying to become a Certified Cicerone.

4. Sadly I cannot afford to be a member of the Master Brewers Association of the Americas but I am certified by them as a Beer Steward.  Their web store has loads of useful times from educational to entertaining and many items are on sale now until the end of the year. We have both the Flavor Wheel and the Defects Beer Wheel. We haven’t had a chance to put them through their paces yet but look forward to it.

The Flavor Wheel is the official flavor wheel as developed by M.C. Meilgaard, et al. for the American Society of Brewing Chemists, the European Brewing Convention and the Master Brewers Association of the Americas.

Beer drinker, homebrewer, professional brewer, brewery worker, bartenders, etc.: all should be familiar with this tool and, more importantly, its terminology and organizational structure.

5. I have been meaning to write about Michael Kiser and his Good Beer Hunting blog/website for a good while now and just haven’t managed it. Check him out. Seriously. Just leave here now and check him out. His shop is full of quality as is his writing and photography. No doubt his podcasting and events are too. I have the issues of Mash Tun and a print of the Hunter Gatherer by Andrew Wright.

I do not have a Beer Peen Hammer but “Good God!” if you’d like to get me one. Check out that post.

6. Perhaps stocking stuffers for next year: Hop-infused lollipops made from locally grown hops – cooked in small batches and hand poured LolliHOPS™ from Yakima Hop Candy. 

7. Our friend Bend Brew Daddy takes excellent, collection worthy, photos and he has a calendar out for next year. Photos of Central Oregon beers and breweries here and the Rest of the World here.

8. Beer Hunter: The Movie Michael Jackson on DVD. Is there anything else to be said? I do own and have watched this and the “special features.” Worth seeing for all beer geeks; worth owning for many of us.

9. Home Brew Club Membership. A homebrew club membership could be just the thing for the budding homebrewer or someone considering it. Sara and I are members of our local club, COHO.

According to the All About Beer 2014 Beer Lover’s Gift guide there is currently a promotion on AHA membership. Join or buy a gift membership (reg. $43) for $43 and get a free book.

10. Beer books.

Bend beer Bend beer: a history of brewing in Central OregonJon Abernathy; The History Press 2014WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

Our friend Jon Abernathy’s Bend Beer was recently released. This is what I have had to say about it here so far.

“It is currently “the definitive” book on brewing in Central Oregon, but I know even Jon wants more answers to some things. There is more he could not fit due to space constraints. Such is book authorship.”

Vintage beer Vintage beer: a taster’s guide to brews that improve over timePatrick Dawson; Storey Publishing 2014WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder

My review of Dawson’s Vintage Beer.

“Vintage Beer by Dawson is an excellent introduction to cellaring beer. It is a quick read that will also bear close studying and better note-taking. Production values are high and it is well-edited.”

Cheese & Beer Cheese & BeerJanet Kessel Fletcher; Andrews McMeel 2013WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

Any fan of good cheese and beer should own, and make use of, this book. We picked up our copy from the author at a signing and tasting at the Deschutes Brewery Bend Public House.

Tasting beer Tasting beerRandy Mosher; Storey Pub. 2009WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

My review of Mosher, which I consider the core book in the Beginner’s Beer Library.

“Synopsis: This is an excellent introduction to beer, beer culture and history, and the tasting (not simply drinking) of beer. Highly recommended!”

11. Magazine subscription. All About Beer and Beer Advocate are probably the two leading beer magazines in the US. Both are worth reading regularly if you like to keep up on what’s happening in the wider world than your own backyard. I subscribe to both.

12. Spiegelau glasses. We have one of the IPA glasses which we got as swag at a Sierra Nevada tasting at Broken Top Bottle Shop and Ale Cafe. It does lovely things for the aromas of hop forward beers. That is enough to affect, and improve, the overall taste of these beers. It is not a massive contribution but it works. The glass itself is fragile and hard-to-clean (I handwash my glasses) but I haven’t broken it yet.

I would definitely like to try the new stout glass. [Link found via 2014 All About Beer guide but was well aware of the glass’ existence.]

13. $300 Yeti Hopper 30 cooler. OK. Honestly. I have no experience of this or any other Yeti coolers but having looked at their website I definitely want one! This could be most useful when buying beers on road trips to get them home at reasonably stable temps. It certainly could have many uses but that would be our most likely use case.

14. For other ideas see the following (some items on my list came from these):

  • All About Beer 2014 Beer Lover’s Gift Guide. As I said, got a few ideas and a few links from here.
  • 10 Gifts for the Serious Homebrewer from The New School. There are some seriously useful items on this list. I won’t waste your time and point you at the 1st part as it was mostly (80-ish%) stupid products. I’m hoping their upcoming 3rd list is better.

There you have it: my most recent list of ideas for gifts for beer lovers. There is always my Beginner’s Beer Library page for ideas as it evolves. No promises on how quickly that is, though.

DRAFT Mag 8 essential craft beers

Early on the morning of 9 October I got in a discussion on Google+ about this DRAFT Magazine feature, “8 essential craft beers.”

A couple people shared that they had had seven and I added that “I’m only at 6 but I’ll call myself a craft beer lover despite some of their ridiculous rhetoric.”

My friend who posted it replied that “What I like about this list … is that it doesn’t claim to be the best. It’s nice to see a list that only means don’t pass these up if you get a chance.”

My reply was a little lengthier:

“I agree fully, … and I thank you for sharing. But like many of these kind of lists, “don’t pass these up if you get a chance” is what they are going for but their rhetoric gets in the way. “Behold, the bottles you must sip before you can call yourself a craft beer lover.” So since I, like many, haven’t had Cantillon or had a chance to try Brooklyn Lager I can’t call myself a craft beer lover. Hogwash!

Brooklyn Lager “hooked a nation on craft beer”?! Not likely; it isn’t distributed near widely enough. As for their claim re Cantillon, “Every sour beer on shelves today is inspired at least in part by this puckering, earthy ode to wild Belgian yeast.” That’s just horse crap. There are several much older Belgian sour breweries and I don’t see a Flanders red/Oud Bruin on their [Cantillon’s] list. Rodenbach is 79 years older and makes excellent Flanders reds which, as I know you know, is another kind of sour. Not made by Cantillon. So every sour is not inspired by Cantillon.

I do enjoy these kinds of lists. I often just wish folks would make the list and leave out all of the rest of their words as they end up saying silly to downright incorrect things.

Sorry for being nitpicky early in the morning but when someone—theoretically a professional beer writer/journal—tells me I can’t truly be a craft beer lover because of X I get a bit riled up. And then I get (perhaps) hypercritical of any other claims they are making.”

I then tweeted twice to @DRAFTbeereditor:

My head is hung in shame. I say I am a craft beer lover but @DRAFTbeereditor says I can’t be since I haven’t been able to try Cantillon. https://twitter.com/bythebbl/status/387961593327124481

Hey @DRAFTbeereditor you may want to get a grip on the rhetoric. That claim & other silly statements has cost you a subscriber. https://twitter.com/bythebbl/status/387962099902582785

My wife, and one or two others on Twitter, told me perhaps I was taking it a bit too seriously. Perhaps. But I truly don’t think so.

I know. I know. These kinds of lists and that kind of writing seem to be everywhere. I still sometimes engage in it although I do my best not to [I previously had written “are everywhere”]. And if I do I am happy to be called on it, as I do not want to do it. It is sloppy. It is inaccurate. It is often offensive.

Seriously?! I can’t call myself a “craft beer lover” if I haven’t had all of those eight beers? That is simply ignorant beyond measure.

If you mean to say that “Here is a list of eight beers that you truly should not pass up if you get a chance and here’s our reasons for thinking so,” then by all means please do so. I will evaluate your reasons and decide whether they have any relevancy to me and I (or another reader) may still be intrigued enough to try the recommended beers even if I don’t like or if I disagree with your reasoning. Then you can call your article successful.

What DRAFT Magazine is going to get now is a free link and some extra page views and that will probably be considered more successful than if they had actually affected someone’s opinion or got them to try some beers. That is just sad.

I do not disagree with the beers on the list at all. Of course, other beers could have been swapped in. Or the list could be longer. Or shorter. Or simply different in some way.

Those are all fine beers and some, to my palate, are great beers. Again, no complaints on the list.

Now that I look even closer though, there are nine beers on that list. Nine. Not eight. Rhetoric and hyperbole have their place. But sometimes straight (and accurate) is what we need. Basic counting always has a place if you are going to claim a specific number.

Potential fixes are even easy although a basic rewrite would be better. “Almost every sour beer ….” “… helped to hooked a nation on craft beer.”

As for the offensive “No training wheels here: Behold, the bottles you must sip before you can call yourself a craft beer lover.” I know what they probably meant. But that is not what they said. DRAFT Magazine is one of the few major beer mags I don’t yet subscribe to. Guess which one I’ll be continuing to overlook for a while longer.

I wrote all of the above about 10 October, with only very minor changes since. Since then I have seen several DRAFT Magazine articles via the Twitters that have been informative and useful. I have decided not to write them off completely yet.

As I said above, perhaps I blew this a bit out of proportion. On one hand I certainly did. But on another I most certainly did not. The writing displayed in this feature is sloppy, arrogant, inaccurate, and even yes, in this case, offensive.

We can do better as craft beer writers. We must do better.