SMaSH Blonde Ale

It’s spring, and I’ve been wanted to do another SMaSH (single-malt and single-hop) beer.  Something about a nice toasted blonde ale with some good hop character sounds really good.  Vienna malt is something that I’ve used a bunch, but never in large quantities, so I really haven’t gotten a good understanding.  I went with magnum hops, though they’re only traditionally used for bittering for their clean and neutral characteristics, I’ve also heard that they have a really pleasant, benign flavor and aroma – in the event that you don’t really want something overly citrusy/piney/dirty, etc. Just something to give a nice hoppy character. This should be around 1.051 SG (~69% eff.), 45 IBU, 6 SRM, and 5% ABV.

  • 10 lb Vienna malt (Best Malz)
  • 0.5 oz Magnum hops (13.5% a.a.) 60 minutes
  • 0.75 oz Magnum hops (13.5% a.a.) 20 minutes
  • 0.75 oz Magnum hops (13.5% a.a.) 0 minutes
  • WLP001 California Ale yeast (1L starter)

// Mash-in 1.5 qt/lb at 130 for 15 minutes, raise to 148 for 30 minutes, 158 for 15 minutes, and 168 for 5 minutes. Sparge to collect ~7 gal 1.039 wort. Boil 90 minutes. Collect 5 gallons of 1.054 wort. Chill to 70F, pitch yeast. Brewed 4/18/21. //

UPDATE (4/21/14). Krausen gone, bubbling once every 20s. Lots of protein and yeast stuck to the sides of the carboy. Nice deep golden / light orange color, still pretty cloudy. Aroma: bread – almost like the kind you get from using Pilsner + some flaked wheat – light cornbread, with a faint presence of yeast. Taste is fairly malty sweet up front, but finishes with a great medium to moderate clean and neutral hoppyness which blends really nicely with the malt. Surprisingly, the gravity is at 1.011 but with lots of malt flavor! I’ll give it a few more days in the carboy to clean up, then transfer to the fridge. This is going to be good!

UPDATE (4/25/14): Racked to the keg after crashing down to 34F for two days. This tastes amazing – rich bready malts and a nice hoppy finish that’s super refreshing. Honestly, I think it tastes like a decocted pilsner.  Very lager-like: clean, rich melanoidin and bread flavor, with a very clean hoppy pilsner taste. I love it! It kind of makes sense. Vienna is like pilsner but with a slightly more malty flavor.


The is definitely the prototype for a house blonde ale. It came out amazingly sessionable, crisp and clean with a nice hop presence while still showcasing the flavor of vienna. Initially, after it was first kegged and carbed, i thought the hop presence was a little too much – it had a moderate bite to it which sort of took away from the malt flavor. After a few weeks, this subsided and the malts shined through to make a really balanced ale. The level of IBUs is definitely appropriate for a crisp & hoppy pilsner, so I’ll note that for future beers using different hops (or, I might even just stick with Magnum… they’re nice!).  Next time I’ll likely scale back the 20 minute addition slightly for this beer, though, just for less of a bite.  As a side note, this beer also tasted amazing at room temperature. Great toasty malt flavor which I could easily picture being the showcase for a English pale ale; maybe with just a dash of medium Crystal 60 for some body and sweetness.



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Filed under All-grain, German, Hoppy, Pale Ale

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