Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Hop Utilization - Make A SMaSH

SMaSH stands for "Single Malt and Single Hop". These beers are fun to make and they help you learn to identify flavor and aroma of individual hops and or malt. SMaSH beers can also hold their own as a beer style. You might just make your next favorite beer if you find you really enjoy a certain style of hops. Just remember, if you are making SMaSH beers to familiarize yourself with the distinct hop flavors and aroma, remember to keep your yeast the same for all of your batches to stay consistent.
We at Salt City Brew Supply are happy to help you figure out how much of a certain hop you will need to make a well balanced SMaSH, but you can do this all on your own just by drawing a couple of lines. To figure out your IBUs (International Bittering Units) for your batch of beer from the AAUs (Alpha Acid Units) of your hops you just need to know how much bitterness you will be extracting from your hops during the boil. This is called Hop Utilization.
IBU calculations 
There are a lot of calculators to do this for you, we recommend Beersmith, but understanding at least this overall function can let you gauge what you will need for a recipe. Finding the IBUs of your beer can be found with the following Equation:IBU = AAU x U x 75 / Volume
Do this for every hop addition, add up the IBUs and you get your total for your batch.
Let's say you have a 1 gallon Citra SMaSH beer you want to make with a starting (60 min boil) gravity of 1.071 and our Citra hops are at 14% Alpha Acid (AAU). To find your IBUs of just your Bittering addition using 1/4 of an ounce of Citra at the start of your boil... Your equation would look like this.
49.875 = 3.5 X .19 X 75 / 1

So, how do you find the AAUs from the % Alpha Acid of the hops you are using? Draw a straight line on this chart between the two columns of information you know about your hops and it will point to your AAUs
How do you find the Usage from the gravity and boil time? Draw a straight line on this chart between the two columns of information you know about your wort and it will point to your Usage.
There are calculations for the above functions also, but we find it easier to draw a line.
Enjoy and stay hoppy!


  1. Really good advice here. I've been doing something similar this past year (my first year homebrewing). Especially when you're getting to know your process and your ingredients it's helpful to make some very simple beers. The ones I've made have all turned out great, very drinkable, and easy to keep track of!

  2. This is good advice even for more complex beers. For a style I want to explore, I design a recipe that fits safely within the parameters of that style. The first batch tastes good and is representative. Then I iterate, each brewing I change one thing, based on my hypothesis of how it will improve the beer. I take careful notes about what I changed, and how it affected the beer.