Release & Recipe: Belgian Smoked Ale

Deft Brewing's pro-am offering lends extra farmhouse elements to a rustic saison

Deft Brewing is known for regularly treading in stylistic territory that’s less explored by the majority of local breweries. That Morena operation brews all manner of Old World beers, including a variety of Belgian ales, but when it came time to select the recipe they’d produce for this year’s Homebrew Summer, they pushed the Belgo envelope to the max by picking a farmhouse-style ale laced with sweetness and smolder. That recipe for a smoked honey saison (which goes by the simple handle, Belgian Smoked Ale) was devised by local homebrewer Matthew Smiley. Download the recipe below, then head out to Deft to try it out in-person.

New pro-am beers will debut on a weekly basis throughout the summer, so be sure to check back with San Diego Beer News on a regular basis (or subscribe to our free weekly email newsletter and we’ll send all the recipes and release information straight to your inbox). Cheers and happy homebrewing!

Matthew Smiley


What beer inspired this pro-am creation?

I came across a smoked ale with honey notes in Portland, Oregon, about 10 years ago. It was a wonderful beer and made me realize smoke and honey could work really well together. I decided to try to make one soon after with some success after a few attempts, but still had some other tweaks in mind that I played with once I started all-grain brewing. I started having good luck combining smoke, floral hop aromas and flavors, and honey with something that finished very dry, but was wondering what another base beer might do for me. A saison was one of those base beers.

What was a particularly fun moment from the brew day?

I brought in a Piwo Grodziskie I had brewed before being selected. I wanted to get owner Mo Nuspl and brewer Peter Howson to taste it so we could talk about smoke. Then who happens to walk in but Billy Beltz from Lost Cause Meadery next door. So, we all taste the beer, talk some shop and eventually start discussing honey. It was very cool for me!

What are you most excited about with this pro-am beer?

I am very interested to get a beer like this into the “mainstream”. By that I mean getting something very different on a menu board and seeing what people think.

Peter Howson

Brewer, Deft Brewing

What led you to select this beer for Homebrew Summer and how did you go about finalizing the recipe for it?

It sounded interesting and didn’t conflict with any of our existing beers. It was based on a beer Matt had some time ago in Oregon. We sat down and created a recipe from scratch, starting with a fairly simple grain bill of mostly Pilsner malt and some honey malt. The next question was how much smoked malt and what flavor smoke. This was the first smoked beer Deft had done. Given that it was a relatively light beer, dialing in the smoke level, especially without the luxury of time for a bunch of test batches, became a bit of a challenge. Our shortcut to get us in the ballpark was our friend Jacob Bauch, who formerly brewed at Home Brewing Co. and is now at Puesto Cerveceria. He won a Great American Beer Festival gold medal for a smoked beer (licthenhainer) and had also done a great smoked pils collaboration with Eppig Brewing. He pointed us to oak-smoked wheat malt, which offers a relatively subtle smoke, He also gave us the percentages used in the two beers we had tasted. That sharing of information–which is one of the great things about the brewing industry–allowed us to dial in the smoke to a level where it is noticeable but not overpowering.

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