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  • Writer's pictureLuke Nyswonger

Designing a SMaSH IPA with ChatGPT

Homebrewing has been more than just a hobby for me; it's a passion, an art form, and a journey of discovery. Over the years, I've experimented with a myriad of ingredients, tinkered with recipes, and refined techniques to perfect each batch. Yet, with every pour, there's always been an itch to explore further, to push the boundaries of traditional brewing.


A recent spark of inspiration came from the October 2023 edition of BYO magazine, which featured an in-depth look at SMaSH beers. While I've dabbled in SMaSH brewing during the early stages of my journey, time has passed, and my tools have evolved. Upon inspecting my hop stock, I noticed a stash of 2019 Kanook hops from Kansas Hop Company, a wild variant of the Chinook hop cultivated in Kansas which I previously wrote about in an article titled "Flavors of the Sunflower State: AI-Driven Brewing Adventures with Kansas Hops and Wheat". Stored meticulously in nitro cans within the cold confines of my freezer, they beckoned to be the star of my next brew.


The challenge? To craft a beer that would highlight the unique characteristics of these Kanook hops, while aligning with the SMaSH methodology. And while I could have relied on my past experiences or sought advice from fellow brewers, I was intrigued by the idea of employing technology, specifically artificial intelligence, to guide this process. After all, my blog's ethos revolves around the intersection of AI and brewing. What better way to embody that spirit than to collaborate with ChatGPT in creating my next IPA.

AI generated artwork
Bing Image Creator

What are SMaSH Beers?

For those unacquainted with the brewing lingo, SMaSH stands for "Single Malt and Single Hop". As the acronym suggests, these beers are made using just one type of malt and one type of hop. Simple in concept, but powerful in execution, SMaSH beers have carved a distinct niche in the brewing world. The idea behind SMaSH brewing is a combination of the following:

  • Highlighting Characteristics: With only one malt and hop variety in play, brewers can truly understand and appreciate the unique flavor, aroma, and character each ingredient imparts to the beer. For a hop like Kanook, with its distinct lineage and profile, this means the opportunity to let its nuances shine without interference.

  • Refining Techniques: SMaSH brewing acts as a litmus test for a brewer's skills. Without the complexity of multiple ingredients, the focus shifts to technique, timing, and precision. It's a challenge and a learning opportunity, offering insights into how slight changes in the brewing process can impact the final product.

  • Creativity Within Constraints: While it might seem restrictive to only use one malt and one hop, this limitation can spur creativity. Brewers are encouraged to think outside the box, experimenting with mash schedules, fermentation temperatures, yeast profiles, and hop additions to coax diverse flavors and aromas from the singular ingredients.

Historically, SMaSH beers rose to prominence as a response to the ever-growing complexity in craft beer recipes. Brewers sought a return to basics, a way to strip down beers to their core components. This "less is more" philosophy allowed for a deeper appreciation of each ingredient, much like a chef showcasing a prime ingredient in a minimalist dish.


In my case, the challenge of highlighting the Kanook hops within the SMaSH framework was an invitation to re-embrace this brewing style, bringing forth its virtues in a contemporary setting, and using technology to push its boundaries even further.


Where Tradition Intersects with Technology


Creating this beer, which I'm calling Prairie Pine IPA, became a fascinating interplay between my brewing instincts and the data-backed suggestions of ChatGPT. My goal was straightforward: to brew a beer that would accentuate the distinct attributes of the Kanook hops. Drawing from its extensive database, ChatGPT presented an initial recipe. It recommended a malt, provided a hop schedule, and even pinpointed a yeast strain, all tailored to maximize the Kanook’s potential.


But as I examined the details, certain elements seemed out of alignment with my brewing vision. For instance, the AI's initial malt choice was a richer, more malty profile using Maris Otter. My preference leaned towards a cleaner malt backdrop, letting the hops take the limelight. Additionally, while the proposed bitterness was within the typical IPA range, I sought a more pronounced bitterness, pushing for an IBU closer to 80. I communicated these preferences, and ChatGPT promptly tweaked its suggestions, bringing the recipe closer to my envisioned beer.


This endeavor highlighted the value of combining AI's precision with human expertise. While the AI could rapidly generate and adjust recipes based on vast amounts of brewing data, it was the human touch — influenced by past brews, taste memories, and personal inclinations — that gave the Prairie Pine IPA its unique character.


Introducing The Prairie Pine IPA


🌲🌻Recipe: Prairie Pine IPA

  • All-grain, 5 gallons (19 L)

  • OG: 1.065

  • FG: 1.013

  • ABV: Approx. 6.8%

  • IBUs: 80

  • Color: Light gold (color primarily derived from the 2-row pale malt)


Malt Bill

  • 12 lbs (5.44 kg) 2-row pale malt

Hop Schedule

  • 0.5 oz (14 g) Kanook [10.5% AA] at 60 minutes

  • 1 oz (28 g) Kanook [10.5% AA] at 15 minutes

  • 1.5 oz (42 g) Kanook [10.5% AA] at 5 minutes

  • Dry Hop: 2 oz (57 g) Kanook for 5-7 days

Yeast

Directions

  1. Mash: Start by mashing the 2-row pale malt at 154°F (67°C) for 60 minutes.

  2. Boil: After mashing, bring your wort to a boil. Follow the hops schedule mentioned above.

  3. Fermentation: After boiling and cooling the wort, pitch the yeast. Ferment at 68°F (20°C) until completion.

  4. Dry Hopping: Once fermentation is nearly complete, add the 2 oz of Kanook hops for dry hopping. Let sit for 5-7 days and then cold crash.

  5. Packaging: After dry hopping, package your beer as you normally would, either bottling or kegging.

Expect a clean malt profile, letting the piney and wild characteristics of the Kanook hop shine through. With the higher IBUs, there will be a pronounced bitterness, but it should be balanced, preventing it from becoming overpowering.


Conclusion

The adventure of crafting the Prairie Pine IPA illuminates a promising future for the world of homebrewing. As we've seen, the merger of traditional brewing wisdom with the capabilities of artificial intelligence, like ChatGPT, can lead to outcomes that are both innovative and deeply personal. The Prairie Pine IPA isn't just a beer; it's a story of harmony between human intuition and machine precision.


At Homebrewing.ai, I explore the intersections of AI, homebrewing, and technology. If you enjoyed this glimpse into the possibilities that AI offers homebrewers, do consider subscribing to the blog for more insights and experiments. For lively discussions, sharing experiences, and to stay on top of updates, join our growing community on our Facebook page.


Cheers! 🍻


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