tasting notes: SMASH MILD


L: Gleneagles; R: Warminster

Judgment day for these side-by-side batches.

Both had a long-ish single stage fermentation, racked into a keg (no finings), very lightly carbed, and poured through a handpump at about 56-57°F.

As noted at the end of the brew day post, the Gleneagles Maris Otter wort was “definitely but not drastically darker” than the Warminster Maris Otter wort – in the glass it was even less drastic. I tried to backlight the pint glasses in the above shot, and they ended up being pretty close in color: kind of a quibbly distinction between deep gold and pale bronze, with the same thin white rafts of foam.

The body and mouthfeel on both is essentially the same as well – light, with a bit of diacetyl slickness, and very low CO2. So that’s a tie, but let’s drill down, as they say in the board meetings where there is no beer:


Nose: Malty (biscuit, toast, bread) and a light fruit ester. A bit of diacetyl.

Flavor: Clean malt with more of that grainy, biscuit, toasty-bread-crumb character. The fruity quality is subtler and less citric than in the Warminster batch – there’s a bit of pear or apple, but no apricot. The herbal component of the Fuggles actually comes through more here, but overall the hops are played down. Finish is clean and lightly bitter.


Nose: Pronouncedly fruitier – yeast dough, plus a distinct Bosc pear/apricot ester and maybe even some hop.

Flavor: Bready and fruity with a more dominant yeast character: more of that pear/apricot, and a comparatively bigger hop flavor with herbal Fuggle-y pungence (I know, it was a single addition at the start of the boil, but I’ve found that in a low-gravity, single-malt wort there can be some FWH-style carrythrough). The balance in the finish skews more to the hop-bitter.


In conclusion: a horse apiece, apples and oranges (pears and apricots?), I can see a time and place for both.

For this specific recipe, with this specific hop/yeast combo, I preferred the Gleneagles iteration – it worked better as a standalone beer. I think this malt would do a great job of bringing a lot of depth into simple grists for Northern English browns or lower-shilling Scottish ales, and possibly low-gravity bitters with emphasis on early hop additions.

The Warminster iteration left me wanting more hop character than the framework of the recipe could deliver, but with a different yeast strain, or in a hoppier style like a bitter or UK pale, I think Warminster may have an edge.

18 thoughts on “tasting notes: SMASH MILD

  1. Pingback: steel cage floor-malted death match brew day: SMASH MILD | the beer engine

  2. MD,

    Did you get the same attenuation with both worts?

    My next sack was going to be Warminster, but my LHBS can only get the Gleneagles (which I learned of a day after you posted the “death match brew day”) so I waited for your review before deciding whether to pay for shipping on the former or fight Jersey traffic for the latter. I don’t think I can go wrong either way. Thanks for sharing!


    • The Gleneagles ended up yielding a bit more ppg, so the OG & FG were both a couple points higher than the Warminster batch, but aa% for both was on par at 76%. I’ll be curious to hear how it goes with whichever one you go with – cheers!

  3. I forgot to ask this on the SMASH recipe post, how do you keep efficiency low enough to hit 1.037 without oversparging and extracting tannins? I fly sparge and every time I’ve attempted a low gravity beer my efficiency jumps 5-10 points.

    • It’s easier to change the amount of base malt in the grist than it is to modulate efficiency, so maybe just start with less malt? Barring that, topping up the kettle directly (instead of running too much sparge water through a small-volume mash) will help avoid collecting runnings below SG 1.008 or so.

      As far as that jump in efficiency for low-grav mashes: if variables like base malt, mill settings, and mash conditions (time, temp, pH, water:grist ratio, sparge liquor ratio, etc.) are the same, maybe your particular MLT design happens to be more optimized for the shape or size of a smaller mash …

  4. Low gravity brewing (at least in my home and pro experience) is about knowing when to cut your runnings and make up the difference in volume with water. I’m not sure if that’s MD’s method as well, but it’s a common one. Polyphenol extraction is more of a function of pH (which can be buffered against), though it is rapidly accelerated as you get lower in extract per volume of wort collected.

  5. Just curious, did you treat your water for these batches? A single malt would produce a very high mash pH with my tap water (~6.1 or so). I’m just wondering how you approached this with your water.

    Love the blog.

    • I use CaCl in the mash and phosphoric acid in the sparge liquor … seems to work pretty well for St. Paul municipal water. I’m not sure what the post-strike pH would have been w/o the salt, but my starting pH is around 8.0, so it might have been pretty similar to yours. Thanks for the question!

    • That beer came out almost bock-like (although it was a different yeast, and fermented cooler IIRC); I speculate that the Gleneagles would be a bit more prototypically English, with the biscuit-toasty notes.

  6. Not to spoil such a great topic and thread… If I wanted to brew a similar style recipe in extract form (using MO malt), would I just forego specialty grains and shoot for the same OG/IBUs? I typically do partial mash 6gal batches, with the intent of kegging 5gal. Any unusual considerations I should keep in mind? Thanks and take care!

      • Mike,

        Thanks for the reply. Couple of follow-on questions, if you don’t mind..

        If you had to choose a (rehydrated) dry yeast for something like SMASH Mild, Boat Bitter and FGIPA, which would you prefer and why? S-04? Nottingham? Windsor? Combinations? I know your forte is on the liquid yeast side, but I’m confident you’d be able to compare the dry strain originators as you would their liquid counterparts. EX: S-04= Whitbread, etc.

        Lastly, I’m prepared to use Burton water salts, but don’t quite want the full-on ‘Burton Snatch’. Just enough to make a ‘the right difference’, but not to a point where I smell the sea from the glass. I’ll be using RO mineral water as my base. Any general formula I can apply in this instance (x-tsp/gal)?

        Thanks again,

        • Re: dry yeast … not going to go there. ; ) For one, there isn’t a dry equivalent to the strain used in this post; and secondly, switching the yeast will make an entirely different flavor profile (which isn’t a bad thing), so at that point I’d just go with one that you like and that has worked well for you before.

          Re: Burtonizing water … to paraphrase “Tropic Thunder,” if you don’t want to go Full Burton, go half (or less) Burton. Starting with RO water, even going 1/3 of the way to Full Burton (~100 ppm Ca, ~260 SO4, etc) should lend some discernible but not overpowering character to the final profile.

          Hope this helps!

          • Mike,

            Thank you. I’m not of the belief that dry yeast is better than liquid or anything…I just tend to go to it more out of comfort and consistency. Just not far enough along in experience to do proper starters, harvesting, etc.

            Take care,

  7. MD, much love on the site and videos.
    Couple Questions if I may:

    -ever chill wort to say 150F then do a 30 min hop stand? This wouldn’t be like a dry hop for the length of primary would it?

    -if you bottle carb, is it ok to cold crash first?

    Peace! Ken

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