steel cage floor-malted death match brew day: SMASH MILD

Such a melodramatic title with so many adjectives for a post about a 3% abv beer! Let’s start over:

Two Maris Otters, both alike in dignity, in fair Minnesota, where we lay our scene, something something something brewing.

Longtime readers will recognize your author’s perhaps slightly creepy feelings for the floor-malted Maris Otter from Warminster Maltings in Wiltshire, England. It is a fantastic base malt, and – to declare my bias in the third paragraph of this post – I’ve loved it in every style I’ve used it in, from ordinary bitter to barleywine.

Then recently some floor-malted Maris Otter from Gleneagles Malting Co. in Buckie, Banffshire, Scotland (bonus points: River Spey!) found its way to my sweaty palms.

I have decided the only sensible thing to do is to make them fight for my affection.

The fight:

The proving ground will be a SMASH MILD – the whole thing is an acronym, which I love. At least some of you are no doubt familiar with SMASH – Single Malt And Single Hop; but MILD may be new to many. It stands for Mild I’d Like (to) Drink. A pale mild, mind you.

The kernels:

L: Gleneagles R: Warminster

L: Gleneagles
R: Warminster

Both are nice and uniform, but advantage Gleneagles for plumpness. Aromatically, Warminster is lighter and brighter, Gleneagles more toasty and warm. Warminster has a definite grainy, doughy, cooked-oatmeal sweetness in its flavor and is visibly a bit paler. Because Gleneagles is a shade darker, its flavors are a bit more developed, as you’d expect – more warm bread crust than bread dough, or oatmeal cookies instead of porridge.

John Barleycorn having made the acquaintance of Mr. Mill, it’s time for some side-by-side brewing:

Target OG: 1.037


  • 100% floor-malted Maris Otter – Warminster in one mash, Gleneagles in another


  • 154°F for 75′
  • 170°F for 10′


  • UK Fuggle (pellet, 4.5% aa) at 60′ to 24 IBU


  • Chill to 65-66°F, O2 and pitch each batch with Wyeast 1203 Burton IPA Blend – fermenting on the cool side to promote neutrality in the floor-malted death match.

The worts

Purely in terms of extract, advantage Gleneagles for overshooting the target OG by a couple points and yielding ~5% more than the same grist weight of Warminster. (I will note here that both malts were milled with the same gap setting, so all other things being equal, the malt with plumper kernels probably got milled a little finer).

In terms of sensory:

Warminster wort

Warminster wort

SMASHWAR displays that terrific rising-yeast-dough sweetness that I, and at least some readers here, know and love. Tasted alongside the other wort, this one is bright and comparatively fruity. It came out of the boiler a rich gold with big gorgeous snotty gobbets of cold break (no kettle finings used in either boil).

Gleneagles wort

Gleneagles wort

SMASHGLEN breaks toasty instead of doughy: warm biscuit and roasted peanuts in the shell beneath a general mash aroma of warm Grape Nuts – it’s an undertone, not an overtone like with a biscuit malt. Its flavor has more of that warm bread crust character, somewhat reminiscent of Munich malt. The color is pale orange rather than deep gold – definitely but not drastically darker than the other wort.

UPDATE: tasting notes here.

19 thoughts on “steel cage floor-malted death match brew day: SMASH MILD

  1. Very interesting.
    I usually use Fawcett mild ale malt for my uhm milds 🙂
    Interesting choice of yeast as well, I’d gone with a strain with lower attenuation for a low ABV beer, especially with a reasonably low mash temp.
    But looking forward to tasting notes.

  2. I am totally in! Prepping to SMASH my own homegrown Winter 2 row malting barley next winter. SMASH comparisons intrigue me to no end. Rock on Dawson!

  3. First of all, I laughed out loud at several points in the post. Good write-up. I am exceedingly interested to hear how these two turn out.

    That said, do you think either of these malts would make a good base for an american-style IPA? I’ve seen these malts used a lot in more malt-centric beers. Curious to know if you have used them in any drier styles…

  4. First world brewer problems, hahaha! Its like when a town gets big enough that it gets a second IHOP and you deecide that one is a lot better then the other. Now I’ll be the guy that says, “in my day we only had one floor-malted marris otter, and we still somehow managed to make a frothy beverage called beer!”

  5. I have made several American style IPAs with MO since I began all grain brewing 14 months ago and it works great for me so give it a try Matt. Difficult to find American IPA’s my side of the Atlantic (although the hop heavy IPAs are creeping in slowly) so it’s a style I have brewed more than any other and MO has become my preference.

  6. At 5.6L, Glen Eagles looks more like a mild malt than a pale ale malt to me. They both sound like they’ll be great beers. More malt, the merrier.

  7. MD,

    This is fantastic! If you have read my posts, they you know that I’m “location impaired” when it comes to getting my hands on different base malts for ales, let alone, anything American. I’ve never seen another Marris Otter beyond Warminster within my reach.

    (My U.K. to AUS dealer)

    Anyhow, excellent notes and I’m already itching to find Gleneagles and other M.O. possibilities.

    My initial thoughts are that an MO that comes out like Munich is not likely to sway me over except for special occasions and not for a DIPA or something grand. Shooting for 3% abv might be advantage to Gleneagles if it, in fact, cannot carry a heavy load as an ale like Warminster can do so well.

    Heck, my guess from a set of pictures could be rather far off! So I’ll look forward to the conclusion.


  8. FWIW, I’ve used Gleneagles FMMO as a base malt for a mild, a pale ale, an English IPA and a DIS. And, FWIW, I’ve enjoyed the character it has given to all of those beers. I do not have side-by-side comparisons with other MOs, so I can’t say much more than that.

    Uhm, heirloomy things are…good!

  9. Ran out of MO two weeks ago and had to sub in some Golden Promise on a standard bitter (called it Bitter Promise). Maybe I will try a sack of the floor malted MO here heading into spring. I loved last year’s Weyermann’s FM Pilsner. I have to drive a ways to get the selection, so I usually default to the Dingeman’s or Briess that my LHBS has on hand…but this topic has me thinking a little drive just might be in order.

  10. Nice. Always cool to have a side-by-side. On a similar note, Dawson, I know you are a yeast man and I was wondering if you have conducted a fair amount of split batches in your career that differed only on the strain of yeast employed. If you have conducted such yeast experiments, did any of these experiments illuminate any good Yeast Strain/Beer Style combos that one might not intuitively stumble across? I just started home-brewing a few months ago and I have admittedly been intimidated to break out of the old US-05 or 1056 paradigm. Any insight? (Great blog, sir, by the way. Loved your work on Brewing TV and it is great to see you, Chip and Jake chugging along, dispensing your beer knowledge).

    • Cheers, Michael!

      To paraphrase a great point from a seminar on fermentation I was at a few weeks ago, yeast are in there (wort, must, etc.) first and foremost to obey their biological imperatives (consuming sugar and reproducing), and “they don’t give a shit what the resulting flavors are” and “Conditions need to be set up in such a way so that basic behavior is funneled toward the desired outcome [in terms of flavor and aroma].” There’s so much that can be manipulated just through temperature and pitch rate. Add to that the urge for retail products to give some sort of very concise, perhaps to the point of reductionist, clue as to provenance or ideal use and the stage is set for all kinds of surprises …

      German ale strains can be used to make a pretty solid dry stout, 1056 and its ilk can be used for Scottish ales, ESB yeast can turn out a nice American IPA, last year I used a Czech lager strain for an Irish red “ale” and a Munich Helles …

      I think there’s a lot of reading between the lines that can be done when looking at a strain’s profile and fermentation specs. Hope that gives you a jumping-off point to explore!

  11. Pingback: tasting notes: SMASH MILD | the beer engine

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