SMASH Series #1 (Single Malt and Single Hop), 5.7% ABV

Tom’s Smashing Blonde Ale

Rivertown Brewing Co, Lockland, OH

by Bill Lau

Posted July 22nd, 2014

I’m not sure when the term SMASH beer was coined, although at least one source attributes it’s origin to the home brewing forum HBT. I’ve seen SMASH beers offered professionally at two southwest Ohio craft breweries – this one and Dayton Beer Company. I think it’s a great concept, utilizing a single variety each of malt and hops. There’s still an almost unlimited range of beers and flavor profiles that the brewer can produce just based on the selection of these two ingredients and the tailoring of the recipe to achieve a desired end, and that’s assuming you stick to a neutral type yeast. (Geez, if you open things up to the Wide World of Yeast Strains, all bets are off!)

In this first SMASH offering from Rivertown, they chose pilsner malt and Belma hops, a newer variety on the brewing scene. I first tried this on tap at the brewery as part of a flight; more recently I found it in bottles at one of my local beer merchants, and it’s that find specifically I am reviewing now.

Tom’s Smashing Blonde presented a hazy, bright old-gold appearance with lots of bubbles rising into a generous, thick, near-white head. The foam started out almost two fingers high and sustained roughly half of that.

Aroma was of fresh, grainy pilsner malt with a noble hop bite – spicy-earthy and zesty. Very appetizing, it invited further investigation.

There was a high carbonation level, finely beaded, that kept the palate on the lighter, quaffable side.

The taste was crisp and a bit sharp up front, with crackey, fresh malt. Hop flavor and bittering gradually built through the middle, with spicy-floral hop notes, overall rather pilsner-like except for some fruity character. This built into into a very assertive bittering with some dryish edge (but not so strong as to be astringent). Left behind a tongue-coating hop resin finish. Very tasty and unlike other blonde ales I’d tried before. Also left behind heavy lacing/sheeting on the glass.

I really enjoyed this one! Amazing what one malt and one hop variety can do.

I’d pair this with wursts, burgers, or wood-fired pizza with gourmet toppings.

Rating:     Appearance: 4.5/5     Aroma: 8/10     Palate: 4/5     Flavor: 8.5/10     Overall: 16.7/20

Smashing, indeed!

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