How to Clone Beer Recipes

Brew your own version of your favorite beer with help this in-depth guide covering strategies on finding ingredients and mimicking taste.

| July 2019

Getty Images/ozgurcoskun

It’s no secret that homebrewers drink a lot of beer, and not all of it is homebrew. Given that homebrewers also enjoy many craft beers and imports, it’s not surprising that a popular topic among us is clone brew recipes—namely, creating homebrew recipes for commercial beers. Recipes for clones of hundreds of commercial beers are available. On the other hand, there are tens of thousands of commercial beers available. So what do you do if nobody has drawn up a clone of your favorite beer? Do it yourself, of course!

What You’ll Need

To formulate a clone recipe, you’ll want to use some sort of beer recipe calculator. This can be a stand-alone program (such as ProMash, BeerSmith, or Strangebrew), an online calculator such as the one offered by Beer Tools or the Recipator, or a spreadsheet like the one at Brew Your Own. If you can calculate original gravity (OG) and color (in SRM) from the amount of malts in the recipe, final gravity (FG) from the attenuation of the yeast, bittering (in IBUs) from the hops added, and alcohol (in ABV) from the drop in specific gravity, you’ll be on your way.

The second and most important thing you’ll need to formulate a clone recipe is information . . . and lots of it. To draw up a decent clone recipe, you’ll need the aforementioned beer specifications plus information on both the ingredients in the beer and the procedures used to make it. For ingredients, you’ll need to know the types and percentage of malts used, the types of hops used and when they are added, the kind of yeast used, and information on any other ingredients (kettle adjuncts, spices, fruits, and so on). On the procedural side, you should find out the details of the mash program, boil times, fermentation temperatures, and any unusual processes used.

Where to Get the Information

Information on a commercial beer can come from a variety of sources. First and foremost, you may be able to get much or all of the information straight from the brewer. If your local brewpub has a porter you just love, stop by during the day—or whenever the brewer is most likely to be there—and ask if you can talk to him. Some brewers are reluctant to give out any information about their beers or are even bound by confidentiality agreements not to, but many others are happy to talk shop. Information about a beer may also appear on a brewery’s website or on their packaging.

If you can’t get any information from the brewer or brewery, you may be able to find at least some information (such as alcohol content, in ABV) on other websites. Recipes for similar beers can help you develop a clone recipe as well. Once you’ve gathered—or guessed at—all the information you need, you’re ready to draw up the first draft of your clone recipe.



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