Author Topic: To clone or not to clone  (Read 2699 times)

Offline klickitat jim

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To clone or not to clone
« on: November 29, 2013, 01:08:58 PM »
Seems like a lot of discussion on cloning lately. With the start of the brew season upon us, I thought it might be fun to hear some opinions.

I'm mixed on this. I think one can poo poo cloning altogether, emphasizing personal creativity. And one can make the search for an identical copy their life goal. What anyone does in the privacy of their brewery is fine as far as I am concerned.

I personally think that trying a clone recipe is maybe a good idea for someone just getting started. It might be a way of having a benchmark to compare with so you know you are in the ball park. But as Denny has said, it may be futile to expect an identical copy.

What are your thoughts? Do clones have a place? Is "clone" a misleading term? If you could identically copy a commercial beer which one? Do clones have a soul?

Offline denny

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Re: To clone or not to clone
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2013, 01:17:31 PM »
I stopped using the word "clone" a long time ago because IMO you can never truly clone a beer, whether it's commercial or homebrew.  I started saying "homage" or "inspired by".  But I don't discount the benefit of trying to brew a beer like something else you like.  There's a lot of value in both the recipe design and the brewing process that can teach you a lot, whether you get close or not.  And you'll still likely end up with a delicious beer that's in the ballpark of what you're going for.  I'm looking forward to my Celebration "homage", even if I don't hit the exact gravities or hop profile of the original.  I know it'll still be great.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: To clone or not to clone
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2013, 01:28:18 PM »
Personally, brewing a clone for clone's sake has no interest to me. One of the main reasons I homebrew is the whole creative side. If something is already available to me commercially then there's not a big reason for me to brew the same thing.

Having said that, if I taste something in a commercial beer that I like, then I would consider trying a clone. Say there's a porter that I really enjoy the roast quality of. By brewing something in the same ballpark I can figure out how to get that type of roast character in my brew. Now I "own" that and can add it to my toolkit for designing future brews. To me that's the real benefit of a clone, not so much to put 5 gallons of a beer I'd normally buy at the store on tap.
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Online HoosierBrew

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Re: To clone or not to clone
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2013, 01:32:21 PM »
+1.  Totally agree with Denny.  I can see the challenge for someone to want to duplicate something exactly (though as said, you can't) but I love the creativity of getting in the ballpark, with my own take on it. I just did an Arrogant Bastard-type beer, but chose to add in some Biscuit and Munich to what is believed to be the grist. Better or worse, it'll be mine.
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Offline punatic

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Re: To clone or not to clone
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2013, 01:41:08 PM »
There is only one success: to be able to spend your life in your own way.


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Offline alestateyall

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Re: To clone or not to clone
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2013, 01:57:27 PM »
I tried to clone one of my own recipes once with no success...

Offline Three

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Re: To clone or not to clone
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2013, 02:00:01 PM »
Define what your meaning of cloning is.  Is it coming up with a clone from scratch or brewing one that has been tried and true?

I am all about and do make beers that I call my own.  But I do enjoy some West Coast IPA from Green Flash and Stones Enjoy By is another favorite of mine.  There are some tried and true recipes and techniques that let you brew these.  So this "cloning" then gives me not only some truly awesome beers but also insight to how these brewers came up with them.  Are they the same?  I'm not sure.  They are pretty close.  I don't expect an exact copy though.  It's more like brewing in the style of these beers is what I'm after.  Then I try to incorporate (or not) what I learn from brewing them into my own beers.....

Every recipe is a clone unless you just made it up!
Anyone who sings a tune so sweet is passin by........

Offline Three

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Re: To clone or not to clone
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2013, 02:01:10 PM »
Funny punatic!  Very funny.....
Anyone who sings a tune so sweet is passin by........

Offline mugwort

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Re: To clone or not to clone
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2013, 02:10:14 PM »
I tried to clone one of my own recipes once with no success...

Very funny but so true!  Is it sour grapes when you decide later that you didn't want the same beer after all?
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Offline phunhog

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Re: To clone or not to clone
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2013, 02:43:08 PM »
I think there are a lot of similarities between music and brewing.  Personally I love it when a musician takes someone else's song and put's their own interpretation to it.  It's a cover but it can be sooooo much more!!  That's how I see "clones" and brewing.  The cover version can be better than the original.

Offline punatic

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Re: To clone or not to clone
« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2013, 02:46:26 PM »
I tried to clone one of my own recipes once with no success...

Very funny but so true!  Is it sour grapes when you decide later that you didn't want the same beer after all?

Nope, that would be sour barley...  ;)
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Offline gymrat

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Re: To clone or not to clone
« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2013, 02:52:34 PM »
There's a brewing season?
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Offline speed

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Re: To clone or not to clone
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2013, 02:58:11 PM »
I like trying to clone a beer, if for nothing else to say I can make one as good as commercial beers. I have done big sky brewings moose drool and side by side with the commercial one our brew club couldn't tell the difference. And I know I'll catch flack for this one, but I cloned Schlitz and it came awe fully close.

Offline gymrat

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Re: To clone or not to clone
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2013, 03:26:30 PM »
I like tasting a beer and seeing if I can identify the ingredients. Cloning is sort of a way to hone in that skill. A lot of brewery websites now will list their ingredients, just not the proportions, I think it is a good learning tool to try to figure out the proportions to come up with a beer that tastes really close. I believe when I become more in tune with the various malts and hops I have a better shot at knowing the end result of a recipe I am creating. Or how I can improve on a recipe I already have.
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Online riceral

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Re: To clone or not to clone
« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2013, 03:27:18 PM »

I personally think that trying a clone recipe is maybe a good idea for someone just getting started. It might be a way of having a benchmark to compare with so you know you are in the ball park.


I tend to agree with this. For someone just starting or someone returning to brewing after a long period (like me), "clone" recipes gives me a good starting point to build around.

With more experience and knowing what each ingredient contributes you should be able to say, "I want a porter but I want more chocolate malt than this 'clone' call for." With an understanding of the malts and hops and with Pro Mash or Beersmith, you should eventually be able to build recipes that are your creation and for your tastes.

Like making bread or barbecue sauce, you add things you like and tweak it until it eventually becomes becomes yours.