A summer ale is just that: a perfect ale to add to your summer brewing repertoire. That’s why I thought, now, would be a good time to put together a summer ale homebrew recipe.
Based on English ales, summer ales are light in color, not too heavy or alcoholic, and moderate in the hop department. Because it’s a well-balanced style, the summer ale still lets the drinker get a good sense of the malt character. And, because Summer ales are so well balanced, they are a great beer to brew as a SMaSH ale.
What is a SMaSH ale you say? I’m glad you asked.
SMaSH stands for Single-Malt and Single-Hop. Pick a malt, pick a hop, and brew! It’s a great way to learn about the characteristics of a particular ingredient, without a lot of background noise. You may also try brewing a single malt base beer, then choose several different hops or different beer yeasts for each one. Maybe you heard about the Single Hop series by Mikkeller? That’s exactly what we’re doing here.
According the BJCP, summer ales are part of the Blonde Ale (6B) category. Therefore, we should aim for these guidelines when creating a summer ale homebrew recipe:
- OG: 1.038 – 1.054
- IBUs: 15 – 28
- FG: 1.008 – 1.013
- SRM: 3 – 6
- ABV: 3.8 – 5.5%
So here’s how we can build the recipe.
- Pick a malt. Now, we can’t just pick any malt. It has to be a good base malt, something with diastatic power, or the ability to break down starches in the malt. Two-row malt, Avangard ale malt, and Vienna malt are all good options. Anything that has been too highly kilned, like caramel malt, won’t contain enough enzymes for a successful mash. If brewing with extract malt, try a Alexander’s, Steam Freak, or Munton’s, all high quality liquid malt extracts.
- Pick a hop. For a summer ale recipe, I recommend Fuggles, Willamette, or Hallertau. The low alpha acids will ensure that the bitterness in the summer ale isn’t too overpowering. On the other hand, it’s your brew, so pick whatever hop you want!
- Pick a beer yeast. In this context, an English ale yeast would be most appropriate. Good dry yeasts include Safale-S04, Nottingham, Windsor, and Munton’s. There are a lot of choices in the liquid yeast department: Wyeast 1318 London Ale III, 1968 London ESB, 1098 British Ale are all good options. Remember, we’re experimenting here, so you pick one for this batch, then pick another for your next batch and then compare the results.
Here’s the recipe I came up with:
SMaSH Summer Ale Homebrew Recipe
Malt: 9 lbs. of Avangard Ale Malt
Hops: 3 oz. of Fuggles, one each at :60, :15, and :5
Yeast: Safale S-04
Est. OG: 1.050
Est. ABV: 4.8%
Est. IBUs: 25
Have you tried any SMaSH brews? How did it go? Do you have a summer ale homebrew recipe you’d like to share? Leave it in the comments below.
David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He is a graduate of the Oskar Blues Brew School in Brevard, NC and founder of the Local Beer Blog.