#22P Vienna SMaSH

Eureka, another small batch post. Today’s recipe is all about a simple recipe and two different yeast strains. The whole idea behind this recipe was to get some experience with two dried yeasts: Fermentis Safale S04 vs Fermentis Safale US05. To get the most out of the yeasts, I went with a SMaSH recipe. SMaSH stands for single malt and single hop. So basically a recipe with just one kind of malt and one type of hops. This kind of recipe is very common to either test new base malts or new hop varieties. Or in my case to get the flavor characteristics of two different yeast strains. That’s it already for the introduction.

Recipe: Vienna SMaSH
Numbers: Volume [L] 5 (1.3 gal)
Original gravity 11.9°P
Terminal gravity N/A
Color Around 8 EBC
Grains: Vienna malt (8 EBC) 1 kg
Hops: Tettnanger (4.2% AA) 7 g and boil for 60 min
Tettnanger (4.2% AA) 5.5 g and boil for 30 min
Yeast: Fermentis S04 vs. US05
Water: Burgdorf Mash: 2.5 L (0.66 gal)
sparge: 4 L (1.06 gal) @78°C (172°F)
Rest: Mash in @66°C (151°F)
60 min @66°C (151°F)
10 min @ 78°C (172°F)
Boil: Total 60 min
Fermentation: Primary 6 days @20°C (68°F) in plastic fermenter
Secondary N/A
Maturation: Carbonation (CO2 vol) 2 vol with sugar
Maturation time 3 weeks

02/13/2011: Smooth small batch brew day. Iodine test was negative after resting for one hour. Then sparged and boiled the wort with the two Tettnanger hops additions for 60 min. Cooled the wort down to 22°C (72°F) and split the wort into two fermentation buckets. Then added the calculated amount of yeast to the fermenters. US05 to one bucket and S04 to the other one.

02/19/2011: Bottled the beer after six days already with an addition of sugars to get to a carbonation level of approximately 2 vol of carbon dioxide. Unfortunately, I did not measure the terminal gravities… Then left the bottles carbonate for another week and stored the bottles in my refrigerator for three weeks.

03/18/2011: Tasting:


Aroma: Slight fruity character (apples) and hint of malty sweetness. No hop character.

Appearance: Yellow-gold colour, poor head retention. The two beers look quite similar.

Flavor: Could detect only some malty character (presumptive from the Vienna malt) and a slight bitterness. No typical yeast character detectable (fruit esters, phenolic etc.)

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body, lively carbonation, short lasting malty aftertaste.

Overall Impression: First, the recipe is exactly what I was looking for: Not a lot of character… In my opinion a very, very boring beer. However, I was not looking for a mind-boggling beer here. The recipe did a very good job. It gave the yeast the opportunity to shine through. Second, how would I describe the character of this yeast in one word? Clean. Clean is a very good descriptive word for this yeast. The yeast ferments very clean and leaves the show to the malts and hops. Sure there was a subtle apple character in the aroma. However, I could not detect any apple character in the flavor. I therefore leave the apple character aside.


Aroma: Light hoppy character. No fruity character.

Appearance: Yellow-gold colour, poor head retention. The two beers look quite similar.

Flavor: Again some malty and bitter character. However, some hoppy character could be detected. And the intensity of the flavors was more pronounced in this beer relative to the one fermented with the US05 yeast.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body, lively carbonation, medium lasting malty aftertaste. The aftertaste was more pronounced compared to the US05 one.

Overall Impression: Once again, the recipe was in the background. In this case, the malty character was more pronounced compared to the US05. There was even a hoppy character on the palate. I have to keep in mind the gravities here. It might be that the S04 beer finished at a higher terminal gravity than the US05 and therefore the higher terminal gravity might lead to a more pronounced malty character. However, if the S04 finished at a higher gravity than the US05 due to a lower attenuation, the strain still accentuates the malty character. Just by finishing at a higher gravity (less attenuative than the US05 strain). Fermentis describes both strains as medium attenuative.

The S04 yeast strain seems to accentuate the malty and hoppy character of a beer. And does not add any fruity character or any other like phenolic character. A rather clean yeast as well.

To summarize, the US05 seems to be a very clean fermenting yeast. On the other hand, the S04 strain seems to be less clean fermenting and accentuates the hop and malt character of a beer. I would choose the US05 strain for a typical US Pale Ale or an American IPA. The S04 strains seems to be appropriate for English Pale Ales, Mild, Bitter, ESB or English IPAs. If you are not sure what strain to choose, just split a batch and ferment the shares with different yeast strains to see the impact the yeast has on the beer. Cheers!