Nick Carr on July 26, 2018 0 Comments Photo Credit: Alaskan Brewing Co. Quick Characteristics Brewery Alaskan Brewing Co. Location Juneau, AK Style Double IPA ABV 8.5% IBU 86 Hops Galaxy Malts Pilsner Malt Shelf Life 6 Months Suggested Glass Tulip or IPA Glass Serving Temp 46-50°F Availability Year Round Food Pairings Blackened Alaskan Salmon, Grilled Steak, BBQ, Stilton, Ricotta Cheesecake w/ Passion Fruit Ahhh, the SMaSH. It’s about as simple as you can get when it comes to making beer. One malt and one hop coming together to prove great things can be had from the most basic of recipes. There really aren’t very many SMaSH brews that get wide distribution in the commercial arena. Many breweries make them, but they often remain a tap-only specialty, and of the few I know of that have been packaged and allowed wider distribution, none of them are year round. Founder’s has its Mosaic Promise (Mosaic hops and Golden Promise malt), Southern Tier does a 2XSMASH (Mosaic and Superior Pale malt), Fremont brews a Summer Ale (Amarillo and 2-row Pale), and Schlafy does a hop trail pack with four different SMaSH brews; but all of these are either limited release or seasonal. To my knowledge (and I’m sure someone out there will prove me wrong) this is the first year-round widely distributed SMaSH beer. Good for you, Alaskan. Alaskan’s take on the SMaSH is in the form of a Double (Imperial) IPA, using only Galaxy hops and Northwestern pilsner malt. The label shows a barren icy landscape in the foreground running up to the edge of a dark boreal forest, and stretched out above, in the purple sky is the colored runnings of the Aurora Borealis; a perfect canvas for the “SMaSH Galaxy” name. It’s a beautiful label and plays into the connection between the northern lights seen in Alaska and the southern lights, the “Aurora Australis” visible from the southern parts of Australia… which, incidentally, is where the Galaxy hop variety is grown. THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Alaskan’s SMaSH Galaxy. If you tasted this beer or you have a pint sitting in front of you as you read this review, please share your own tasting notes with everyone down in the comments below. The Pour: Color is a medium golden, like straw, before it gets completely sun bleached. A nice white, two-finger thick pillow of head forms. Head thins out over a couple minutes, but leaves a solid ring and a couple islands bobbing. Clarity is absolutely superb. Carbonation looks to be about medium. The Aroma: A satisfying mix of tropical fruit and honeyed grain aromas meet the nose. The Galaxy hops bring citrus and passion-fruit. Under the fruitiness is a distinct and interesting herbal quality. The pilsner malt brings its signature sweet malt aromas. Fruity, herbal, and sweet… all come together to create a nicely-balanced aroma. The Mouthfeel: Body is medium as is the carbonation. Mouthfeel is lively, with a quick and significant astringency. The Taste: That herbal note that seemed pretty light in the nose kicks a little harder across the palate. The tropical fruit notes of passion fruit, citrus, possibly a bit of guava are all there, but a bit more subdued, having, it seems, traded spots with the herbal element. Malt sweetness accompanies the romp, a honey-like character sometimes appearing, without ever tipping the balance away from the galaxy hops. Some pretty intense herbal bitterness digs in mid-palate and dries the back half to the swallow. Aftertaste remains bitter, herbal, with only fleeting reminders of the fruitiness. FINISHING THOUGHTS Alaskan’s SMaSH Galaxy is a good Double IPA and an interesting answer to anyone who’s asked the question: what can you actually do with a SMaSH beer? It not only has great character, but does an exceptional job at showcasing all the Galaxy hop variety has to offer, yet offering just enough malt backing to keep it from running away from itself. This was an interesting review for me. I’d always thought of Galaxy as a fruit bomb, but, at least in this case, when it got down to it, I felt the herbal qualities over-shadowed the lauded fruitiness. If you’re curious about SMaSH brewing, love a good Imperial IPA, or have been thinking about using Galaxy hops in your own homebrewing, this is definitely one to pickup… and, it may be the most widely available SMaSH beer around. Let me know your own experiences with this beer. Was the herbal element noticeable to you? Or did the fruitiness all you expected. Cheers!