Full Nelson SMaSH Recipe and Initial Tasting

For those that don’t know, a SMaSH beer is a single malt, single hop beer and a perfect vehicle to really get to know a new hop variety. I have gotten very lucky so far with Nelson Sauvin, using it in a previous recipe called Saison Du Sauvin. In the saison, it took center stage with a very distinct white wine grape characteristic which paired very well with the yeast and malt bill. So that won me over, but I have been reading a bit about the great tropical fruit character and thought I could push the boundaries a bit. I chose Maris Otter since it brings some nice malty character to the table all on its own, and Nottingham yeast, which ferments fairly clean and drops clear. I added some piloncillo sugar to bring a little character and dry this out. I also built RO water to the Pale Ale profile in Bru’n Water.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
10.5 gal 60 min 67.0 IBUs 7.6 SRM 1.064 SG 1.014 SG 6.6 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
American IPA 14 B 1.056 - 1.075 1.01 - 1.018 40 - 70 6 - 15 2.2 - 2.7 5.5 - 7.5 %


Name Amount %
Pale Malt, Maris Otter 20 lbs 95.24
Piloncillo 1 lbs 4.76


Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Nelson Sauvin 1.06 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 12
Nelson Sauvin 1.06 oz 30 min Boil Pellet 12
Nelson Sauvin 1.06 oz 15 min Boil Pellet 12
Nelson Sauvin 2.12 oz 30 min Aroma Pellet 12
Nelson Sauvin 3.17 oz 3 days Dry Hop Pellet 12


Name Amount Time Use Type
Irish Moss 1.00 tsp 10 min Boil Fining


Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Nottingham (-) Danstar 75% 57°F - 70°F

This beer has been racked and carbonating for a week. I split the batch with a neighbor – whose version is missing 2 additional ounces of dry hops in the keg. So that skews my batch heavily in terms of aroma. So some quick tasting notes…

Changed the name because this is freaking out my tongue and nose :) from Otter SMaSH Nelson to Full Nelson. My face is really trying to understand what is going in in the glass… tough

Looks: This is not dropping clear at all – it is a pale milky orange, still slightly under carbed. I will try to clarify with some gelatin later. Golden. Clears slightly at it warms. No head.

Aroma: Cat pee, dank, and this is very surprising. The dry hop in the keg is pungent and sharp. At first whiff, there is green grass and something slightly sulfur under that, and then with a full nose in and deep breath comes the ammonia. So while this sounds terrible, it is not. There is a lot of fruit going on, slightly citrus but very tropical. Think mango with a lot of lemon lime. No malt or yeasty esters at all. HOP BOMB

Flavor: Very smooth bitterness, doesn’t have the IPA sharp hit I expected. Tastes like a FWH beer, but it was not. Additions were layered in – but sharp bitterness isn’t coming through. Very dry – no residual sweetness. A bit of sweet tangerine or blood orange on the tongue, but BIG HOP FLAVOR. Some sharp acidity, but a very long finish to the taste. Sticks around. Definitely needs crystal malt to fortify and back this up. I would not put this at 60+ IBU, more in the pale ale range.

Overall: I am on the fence on this beer. It has the potential to be a great beer, but as a SMaSH, pulling back and balancing the hops is necessary. The layered additions approach is different than I usually hop (small bittering with big late hops), but I think it highlights how a hop works and its potential. The bittering is not obvious but the flavor and aroma are spectacularly fragrant and intense.  I really want to see how this matures. A few weeks on gas and lagering may turn it around into a flavorful easy drinking beer. Right now – this is a palette wrecker. Juicy and pithy.

A week later: The beer is starting to drop clear, although some haze remains. The intensity of the pungent aroma and flavor is mellowing somewhat, but still strong. Curiously, the bittering seems to have intensified somewhat, perhaps as the hop flavor smooths a bit.


Download PDF

A Shot at Beer from a Place

I have been following Stan Heironymous religiously since “Brew Like a Monk” was released, including his blog, Appelation Beer. A very common theme is understanding Beer From a Place, and how we consistently misunderstand the point when inundated with marketing, beer styles and myths (see marketing). So, in honor of Stan, here’s my take.

Beer From a Place, to me, is that perfect beer moment, integral and symbiotic to the sensory memory and impression. Maybe the beer is the vehicle that defines the moment, but mostly it is a supporting actor, but an Oscar winner to the moment. That is – I remember the beer, the taste and the moment lucidly. Hopefully, that memory is positive, but not always. I believe that Stan H expects that sense of place to be more substantial, less ethereal. I am less sure. A beer made in my garage with a yeast from Belgium, malt from Texas and hops from New Zealand fits into an international melting pot, not my garage. Still, as the brewer, I have put thought and consideration and lots of sweat (Texas summers can be rough).

I have been traveling a lot these last few weeks, both internationally and domestic. It has seemed that while my expectations are often dashed, great surprises are found in the remote, unexpected places.

Goodmanham Ale Taps

Goodmanham Arms Ale House – I had the fortune during a recent Sunday morning in Yorkshire to be treated to lunch here. Across the street is a 12th century Norman church and graveyard, crumbling. An unassuming stone building, surrounded by cottages and English gardens set the scene. Outside, a few smokers huddled in the late morning mist, while we started with ciders and a Theakston’s Best Bitter (no Old Peculiar on tap). Inside was hot, cramped with crickety tables and benches. Above the entrance, certifications from CAMRA and even Blacksheep Brewery, promised REAL real ale. We had to wait to get a seat, but was promised a proper Yorkshire Sunday meal. And the beer was perfect.

From next door, with a brewery the same size as my garage system, Goodmanham All Hallows brewery had a dedicated handle. Perfectly conditioned and cellared ruby ale shot through the sparkler producing a thick cream head. Ragged Robyn poured a distinct ruby red, full of fruity esters and caramel malts.

The fellowship made the day, visiting and laughing with new friends. We sat next to the fire and tucked into roast vegetables, beef and lamb piled against puddings and dark onion gravy. Outside a couple rode up on an antique Norton motorbike and parked next to a fully restored WW2 period Triumph. A quiet country England – filled with flowers, foggy mist and great beer.

Westmalle Tripel

Restaurant across from The Druid’s Cellar, Brugge – another defining experience, getting to know our hosts after two days of walking through Brugge and about 1000 snaps of my camera. We intended to have a few at ‘t Bruges Bierje, and got there 10 minutes after it opened to find it swamped with a several hour wait. So we moved on. I was very disappointed – Bierje is a highly regarded pub. We walked around a bit, and let the ladies stop and shop, and sat down outside of a cafe just across from The Druid’s Cellar. That I don’t remember the restaurant name, nor can find it on Google Maps, is irrelevant. A mist was forming, but was refreshing as clouds meandered and the Bell Tower tolled in the dusk. Trevor had a Kasteel Donker and I nursed a Westmalle Tripel and at a table next to us, a little tyke plowed through a chocolate covered pancake, squinting a sticky grin. We decided to stay and have dinner – as the aromas around us peaked our appetites. The mist turned into a sprinkle and we moved inside – ate amazing mussels, more tripel, a geueze and more lovely company and conversation that went fairly late. Frittes to die for – seriously heavenly – transcendent. We were perfectly fortified for the 40 minute walk in the light rain back to the hotel.

Pints Pub

Pint’s Pub, Denver: A little place downtown, that claims to be one of the first real ale houses in the US. I was there for a meeting, and got in just as they opened. The proprietor was cleaning the bar when I sat down, and I asked about the beer engines. There was a bitter and a dark ale on cask, and I asked for a Dark Star, a rich Yorkshire brown ale modeled after Riggwelter from Black Sheep Brewery. Surrounding the bar is the most amazing collection of malt whiskeys I have ever seen. The proprieter/brewer and I started talking about brewing, and he gave me the nickel tour – a little 5 barrel system, scrapped together into cramped quarters. As we talked, it was clear he cared about brewing true cask ales, and was incredibly proud of his cellarmanship. It showed in the beers and in the food. The lunch business was productive, but the beer stood out, as did the brewer!

Bierworks Sampler

Bierworks Brewery, Woodland Park, Colorado: I remember seeing the tanks being loaded into this facility a few years back. Previously a repurposed gas station, Bierworks is tiny and cramped, all spare space stuffed with brewing bits of hardware. Outside is a little beer garden and a food truck (BBQ). A tap room opens up to the outside. We had intentionally postponed lunch so that I could eat after a ride up toward Victor and Cripple Creek – and the beer was such a surprise. Another tribute to quality brewing skills, Bierworks beers are solid and well executed – no triple IPA or cucumber ales here.

So little places, some experiences expected and mostly unexpected. The experience comes together to create an event – centered around a nice malty pint and great company. Prosit!

Download PDF

Brew Day, Immediate Thoughts… Magic Soft Upgrade

Otter SMaSH Nelson

Just washed up, finished. 5.5 hours from heating liquor to knock out to fermenter. Had a neighbor come over part way, made cleaning a lot more efficient.

So, very simple 10.5 gallon SMaSH recipe, Otter SMaSH Nelson:

20# Marris Otter, milled twice with a new 0.040″ setting (I replaced the thumb screws on my Monster Mill 2-roller)

1 oz. Nelson Sauvin at 60, 30 and 15 (the 15 with some irish moss)

2 oz. Nelson Sauvin at Flameout, steep for 30 minutes (chill/recirc at 15 minutes to about 95F)

Nottingham Yeast, rehydrated

Added the recipe while heating the liquor, with a single infusion 152F for 75 minutes, 1.25 Qt/Lb thickness. This is thicker than usual and I had to really work to eliminate dough balls. Mash Out for 10 minutes at 170F. Mineralized to “Yellow Bitter” in Bru’n Water – and a tiny bit of acid in both hot liquor and mash. Longer mash to ensure conversion.

Fly sparge lautering, took just over 45 minutes. Chose to fly to measure impact on efficiency.

Used a few drops of de-foam, and ran off into the hop spider to collect any miscellaneous husks or malt. Neighbor came by during lauter – helped through the rest (and had a few beers!). Clean up with wet vaac during boil.

Reduced my original hop additions to 5 total, but will dry hop with 2 additional ounces after primary.

Have been only achieving 65-70% mash efficiency the last few brews. Today, with the slow fly sparge, I achieved 86%. Some of this is from the Marris Otter, with a slightly fatter kernel than standard 2-row. The rest I attribute to the fly sparge. I am not a patient man, but really concentrated on a slow even lauter (I also sparged with RO water, low alkalinity and about 173F).

Started boil when I saw clear surface break, added first hop addition. Big fluffy hot break formed about 30 minutes in – noticed during the flavor hop addition. Hop spider worked very well, wort out of the kettle was fairly clear. Oxygenated at 0.12 LPM with slow flow through the Chill Wizard.

The new software, brewing from a ‘recipe’ worked very well. The timer and a beep (I set the alerts in the system configuration) helped to indicate when each step needed attention. Of great appreciation, the step timers started only after the step temperature was achieved. I was a bit concerned as hitting and maintaining mash out required some of the old system shuffle, but I also had a fan blowing to cool me off a bit – the Brew Magic is a giant heat sink… the little wind took some of heat from the tun. Everything stabilized when I turned the fan off.

Conclusion: I will continue to add new ‘recipes’ to represent specific mash schedules. I have already setup several of these in Beer Smith and look forward to repeating them with new brews. The interface required a bit more interaction than I expected, but mostly the issue was swapping out between notification screens. A heating notification occurs when you are heating the mash faster than 2 degrees a minute. That exits to the graph and not the primary screen. You need to Arrow Key back to that screen. Otherwise, everything worked better than I expected.

Now someone PLEASE turn off the heat and humidity here in Central Texas! No double brew days in the summer here.

Download PDF
%d bloggers like this: