Friendly Commercial Brewers vs. Not-So-Friendly

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I emailed Odell a few months ago with an email talking about how much I love their beers and wished they were in Texas. I asked if they could share any info about one of their beers and made it clear I understood if they wouldn't. I never heard back. I'm not easily bristled by the absence of response but personally I think it's a bad business practice to let those emails go by without even a "thanks for enjoying our beer, sorry we don't share the recipes" because you do risk putting off a loyal customer. I've been to the brewery twice (once since sending my email) and the staff has always been really friendly. A couple friends near Denver are trying to start a brewery and Odell himself was willing to sit down and talk to them. So I don't think there's a culture of bad customer service there but maybe the person responsible for answering emails is a bottleneck in their service.
 

Sir Humpsalot

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Dammit. See? Now you've got me sucked in. I can't help it! I love a good mystery.

According to their website, they use munich malt. Strange that they told you Caramalt. Ummmm... soooo... I'm going to take a WILD guess that the malt they use is.... [drumroll, please!!!!] CARAMUNICH!!!

Also, 24 IBU's is REALLY low for a craft brewed Amber ale. Did it by chance have a lot of hop aroma and flavor? Maybe do a FWH for this one to get more character from the hops.

I haven't been able to track down any SRM info, but O'Dells says it's a "lighter take" on an amber ale, so let's focus on the lighter end of the Amber spectrum. Does that make sense? One person on NB's forum said the hop character was that of a Bavarian Lager. That would coincide with the flavor description of Mt Hood hops. So now honestly, it sounds to me like an Oktoberfest beer made with ale yeast and a bit of extra flavor/aroma hops. Sooooo..... here's my best guess at a clone, having never tasted the beer:


Style: American Amber Ale
Batch Size: 5.00 gal
Boil Volume: 5.72 gal Boil Time: 60 min
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.0 %

8.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 80.0 %
1.50 lb Caramunich Malt (56.0 SRM) Grain 15.0 %
0.50 lb Honey Malt (25.0 SRM) Grain 5.0 %
0.50 oz Centennial [10.00%] (60 min) (First Wort Hop) Hops 19.4 IBU
0.25 oz Mt. Hood [6.00%] (20 min) Hops 3.2 IBU
0.25 oz Mt. Hood [6.00%] (10 min) Hops 1.9 IBU
0.25 oz Mt. Hood [6.00%] (5 min) Hops 1.1 IBU
0.25 oz Mt. Hood [6.00%] (0 min) Hops -

Beer Profile Estimated Original Gravity: 1.054 SG (1.045-1.056 SG)
Estimated Final Gravity: 1.014 SG (1.010-1.015 SG)
Estimated Color: 12.6 SRM (11.0-18.0 SRM)
Bitterness: 25.6 IBU (20.0-40.0 IBU) Alpha Acid Units: 1.3 AAU
Estimated Alcohol by Volume: 5.2 % (4.5-5.7 %)

Now maybe they do use equal parts (or more) Honey Malt, but I really really doubt it. I don't think honey malt works well at more than a few percentage points of the grist, so I'd err on the side of caution there, at least for your first batch.

And if you wanted to tweak the recipe a bit, I wouldn't hesitate to add a bit of extra Mt Hood in the last 10 minutes or so to really emphasize the fresh flavor and aroma.

But let's apply a little more psychology... they gave you limited information in an obviously deliberately skewed order. I suspect they have a little something to hide. Did you notice that they tout munich malt in their description but then don't use it in the beer? Hmmmm.... I suspect they are using honey malt to cover up the absence of munich, giving the beer a little extra maltiness while being able to use more cheap 2-row in the recipe. This is possibly a cost-cutting measure given that they tout the use of munich malt in their description of the beer, but obviously can't be using much caramunich while still keeping the beer as a "lightly colored amber". Now, I'm not going to say it's a bad beer, or that they suck for taking this approach. A good beer is a good beer. Period. However, based on my hunch that this is meant to be like an oktoberfest ale, I'd try to improve the recipe I posted above by using a higher proportion of regular munich malt, which is much lighter than caramunich. Something like 6lbs 2-row, 2.5lbs Munich, 1lb Caramunich, and .25 Honey Malt. It would come out quite a bit maltier and you can use less Honey Malt (or omit it altogether and add another pound of Munich instead).

So that's what I would do. Hope that helps!!!!
 
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I toured Spoetzl Brewery last year, while it used to be one of my favorite beers the tour guides really made me mad and I haven't bought much since. I asked what hops they use for their Shiner Bock and they told me they couldn't tell me. They had cups of hops they were passing around for people to smell but wouldn't tell anyone what each type of hop was or what they were used for, just "Used in the brewing process." I was a fairly knew brewer so I couldn't really identify the hops. Sad.
I took the tour three years ago. Not only is the tour is least interesting tour I've ever been on but I got the impression the tour guides had very little idea what they were talking about. I seem to think they were the employees from the merchandise store who were given a brief tour themselves and then forced into giving tours themselves. We didn't even go into the brew house or see anything other than the bottling line.

Spoetzl has been owned by beer conglomerates for well over a decade. It doesn't surprise me that they are so secretive, like most other large breweries. Completely useless fact: back in the 90s the tour used to be more relaxed and you could really get into the brew system and see the whole process. A blind feller and his seeing-eye dog tried to take the tour and the brewer refused to let the dog in the brewery for fear dog hair would get into the beer. Court said Americans with Disabilities Act protects the right to a reasonable accommodation and the likelihood of dog hair getting into the beer was no more or less than the likelihood of human hair getting into it so they had to let the dog into the tour. Spoetzl's response was to close off a lot of the brew house to the tour.
 

WesleyS

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ReverseApacheMaster said:
I took the tour three years ago. Not only is the tour is least interesting tour I've ever been on but I got the impression the tour guides had very little idea what they were talking about. I seem to think they were the employees from the merchandise store who were given a brief tour themselves and then forced into giving tours themselves. We didn't even go into the brew house or see anything other than the bottling line.

Spoetzl has been owned by beer conglomerates for well over a decade. It doesn't surprise me that they are so secretive, like most other large breweries. Completely useless fact: back in the 90s the tour used to be more relaxed and you could really get into the brew system and see the whole process. A blind feller and his seeing-eye dog tried to take the tour and the brewer refused to let the dog in the brewery for fear dog hair would get into the beer. Court said Americans with Disabilities Act protects the right to a reasonable accommodation and the likelihood of dog hair getting into the beer was no more or less than the likelihood of human hair getting into it so they had to let the dog into the tour. Spoetzl's response was to close off a lot of the brew house to the tour.
None of that surprises me. I took the tour four or five years ago and it was the worst brewery tour I've ever been on. Someone snapped a picture of a picture hanging on the wall in the hallway before even entering the main part of the brewery and was told to erase the photo and put the camera away. The bottling line was in use so we only got to see it from a distance behind glass. That didn't bother me because of obvious safety issues. But the general secretive attitude of the staff was definitely off putting. The tour isn't worth the time at all. Still it doesn't effect the way I feel about their beer, just how I feel about those that run the place. On the other end of the spectrum, I really enjoyed New Belgium's tour. Whether you care for their beer or not, it is a good tour in my opinion. After seeing how tours can be, I'll never waste my time visiting the Spoetzl Brewery.
 
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None of that surprises me. I took the tour four or five years ago and it was the worst brewery tour I've ever been on. Someone snapped a picture of a picture hanging on the wall in the hallway before even entering the main part of the brewery and was told to erase the photo and put the camera away. The bottling line was in use so we only got to see it from a distance behind glass. That didn't bother me because of obvious safety issues. But the general secretive attitude of the staff was definitely off putting. The tour isn't worth the time at all. Still it doesn't effect the way I feel about their beer, just how I feel about those that run the place. On the other end of the spectrum, I really enjoyed New Belgium's tour. Whether you care for their beer or not, it is a good tour in my opinion. After seeing how tours can be, I'll never waste my time visiting the Spoetzl Brewery.
I still remember the only place in Shiner to drink is an antique store in "downtown". lolz

The NB tour is definitely worth the adventure. I mean, it's 1.5-2 hours of free beer and a slide. What's not to like about that.
 

WesleyS

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ReverseApacheMaster said:
I still remember the only place in Shiner to drink is an antique store in "downtown". lolz

The NB tour is definitely worth the adventure. I mean, it's 1.5-2 hours of free beer and a slide. What's not to like about that.
I forgot about the slide! Yes that's awesome. What makes it better is if your wife is on the tour with you and she doesn't drink beer so you drink all of her samples as well.
 

JJL

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I swear, not a week goes by that we don't get one of these threads. Somebody contacts a brewery to try to get their proprietary recipe that they spent years perfecting, and then complains when the brewery has the audacity to tell them no. You wouldn't contact Coca Cola and expect to get their recipe. For that matter, you wouldn't contact AB and expect to get the recipe for Budweiser. Some breweries are generous enough to share their trade secrets with you. If they do, you should be thankful. But if you are going to ask this type of a question, you should approach the situation assuming the brewery isn't going to share that type of information. Breweries are a business. They are going to protect their assets like any other business. I think people (especially homebrewers) tend to get this romantic idea about craft breweries that there is a kinship among brewers, both at the commercial and home brewing level. Homebrewers tend to get along with each other because there's nothing at stake. It's a hobby. And just because a commercial brewer used to be a homebrewer, doesn't mean the bond he had with homebrewers when he was one extends to his commercial operation. Get over it. Drink what you like. Don't assume that an unwillingness to share proprietary information equates to a poor product or poor customer service.

/rant
 

riored4v

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Odell's is amazing and IMO their customer service is top notch. I'll support them any day of the week. I wouldnt expect them to give out the recipe at all and if nothing else, atleast they gave you a starting point.

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f85/my-epic-day-odell-brewing-co-259907/

I'll also add that Odell's is big on supporting the homebrew community as they host competitions along with ProAms for us.
 

terrapinj

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remember too how easy it is to overlook an email - i've done it many times myself, open a new message with intent to respond later and forget to get back to someone.

it's one thing if i company fails to respond with a quality issue, order issue etc where you've got money at stake but i'm sure the people that handle the general email account for some of the more popular craft breweries get overwhelmed with misc inquiries.

just because you don't get a response to one email doesn't mean they are ignoring you
 
OP
W

wittmania

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Dammit. See? Now you've got me sucked in. I can't help it! I love a good mystery.

According to their website, they use munich malt. Strange that they told you Caramalt. Ummmm... soooo... I'm going to take a WILD guess that the malt they use is.... [drumroll, please!!!!] CARAMUNICH!!!

Also, 24 IBU's is REALLY low for a craft brewed Amber ale. Did it by chance have a lot of hop aroma and flavor? Maybe do a FWH for this one to get more character from the hops.

I haven't been able to track down any SRM info, but O'Dells says it's a "lighter take" on an amber ale, so let's focus on the lighter end of the Amber spectrum. Does that make sense? One person on NB's forum said the hop character was that of a Bavarian Lager. That would coincide with the flavor description of Mt Hood hops. So now honestly, it sounds to me like an Oktoberfest beer made with ale yeast and a bit of extra flavor/aroma hops. Sooooo..... here's my best guess at a clone, having never tasted the beer:


Style: American Amber Ale
Batch Size: 5.00 gal
Boil Volume: 5.72 gal Boil Time: 60 min
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.0 %

8.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 80.0 %
1.50 lb Caramunich Malt (56.0 SRM) Grain 15.0 %
0.50 lb Honey Malt (25.0 SRM) Grain 5.0 %
0.50 oz Centennial [10.00%] (60 min) (First Wort Hop) Hops 19.4 IBU
0.25 oz Mt. Hood [6.00%] (20 min) Hops 3.2 IBU
0.25 oz Mt. Hood [6.00%] (10 min) Hops 1.9 IBU
0.25 oz Mt. Hood [6.00%] (5 min) Hops 1.1 IBU
0.25 oz Mt. Hood [6.00%] (0 min) Hops -

Beer Profile Estimated Original Gravity: 1.054 SG (1.045-1.056 SG)
Estimated Final Gravity: 1.014 SG (1.010-1.015 SG)
Estimated Color: 12.6 SRM (11.0-18.0 SRM)
Bitterness: 25.6 IBU (20.0-40.0 IBU) Alpha Acid Units: 1.3 AAU
Estimated Alcohol by Volume: 5.2 % (4.5-5.7 %)

Now maybe they do use equal parts (or more) Honey Malt, but I really really doubt it. I don't think honey malt works well at more than a few percentage points of the grist, so I'd err on the side of caution there, at least for your first batch.

And if you wanted to tweak the recipe a bit, I wouldn't hesitate to add a bit of extra Mt Hood in the last 10 minutes or so to really emphasize the fresh flavor and aroma.

But let's apply a little more psychology... they gave you limited information in an obviously deliberately skewed order. I suspect they have a little something to hide. Did you notice that they tout munich malt in their description but then don't use it in the beer? Hmmmm.... I suspect they are using honey malt to cover up the absence of munich, giving the beer a little extra maltiness while being able to use more cheap 2-row in the recipe. This is possibly a cost-cutting measure given that they tout the use of munich malt in their description of the beer, but obviously can't be using much caramunich while still keeping the beer as a "lightly colored amber". Now, I'm not going to say it's a bad beer, or that they suck for taking this approach. A good beer is a good beer. Period. However, based on my hunch that this is meant to be like an oktoberfest ale, I'd try to improve the recipe I posted above by using a higher proportion of regular munich malt, which is much lighter than caramunich. Something like 6lbs 2-row, 2.5lbs Munich, 1lb Caramunich, and .25 Honey Malt. It would come out quite a bit maltier and you can use less Honey Malt (or omit it altogether and add another pound of Munich instead).

So that's what I would do. Hope that helps!!!!
OK. I'm not even mad anymore. Well played, Sir Humpsalot. Well played.
 

Sir Humpsalot

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In fact, do them one better. If you can lager, or have a cold space, make it as an Alt Bier. Ditch the honey malt, and dry hop it a bit to preserve some aroma during the extended cold-conditioning.
 

neko

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Deschutes gets props. They don't tell you the percentages, but I don't care and I have put together my Abyss recipe for an upcoming brew day. It won't be exact, but it should be good.
http://www.deschutesbrewery.com/brews/homebrew-recipes

It has been said, but don't take it too seriously if an email reply gets forgotten. Maybe send a followup saying that you haven't heard an answer yet.
 

scottland

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Younger or elder? If you have either I'd love to get it.
Elder: http://farmhousebrewingsupply.fmtemp.com/ProdImages/1Pliny the Elder clone PDF-1.pdf

It's not exact though. RR uses hop extract rather than CTZ at 90 and 45. They also toss a little Amarillo in the dry hop. And I also feel that's too much C40 based on the color and flavor of Pliny. It's around 2%, not 4.

I cloned the Younger here:

http://bertusbrewery.blogspot.com/2012/07/ipa-clone-series-pliny-younger.html

If I had to change anything, I would cut the C40 back to 2-3%. That's about it though, it turned out incredible.
 

Molybedenum

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Having had both, and given that the brew is the single thing that a brewery has that distinguishes it from others, I'll still support O'Dells. They make a great product, and it's their business whether they give out the exact recipe or not. I prefer it over Boulevard's stuff (which I find to be pretty mediocre stuff).

Other breweries were actually born out of homebrew. Avery's is an example. Avery is also a very small brewery, and fortunately, located nearby. Same deal for Dry Dock, which was born out of an actual LHBS. They now sell kits over at NB, too.
 

Kealia

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I swear, not a week goes by that we don't get one of these threads. Somebody contacts a brewery to try to get their proprietary recipe that they spent years perfecting, and then complains when the brewery has the audacity to tell them no. You wouldn't contact Coca Cola and expect to get their recipe. For that matter, you wouldn't contact AB and expect to get the recipe for Budweiser. Some breweries are generous enough to share their trade secrets with you. If they do, you should be thankful. But if you are going to ask this type of a question, you should approach the situation assuming the brewery isn't going to share that type of information. Breweries are a business. They are going to protect their assets like any other business. I think people (especially homebrewers) tend to get this romantic idea about craft breweries that there is a kinship among brewers, both at the commercial and home brewing level. Homebrewers tend to get along with each other because there's nothing at stake. It's a hobby. And just because a commercial brewer used to be a homebrewer, doesn't mean the bond he had with homebrewers when he was one extends to his commercial operation. Get over it. Drink what you like. Don't assume that an unwillingness to share proprietary information equates to a poor product or poor customer service.

/rant
^This.

And it's a matter of getting the right person on a good day. How many times have you (generally speaking) posted in a thread and come across differently than you intended. It happens.

And to be very specific to O'Dell. I was out there earlier in the year from CA and took the tour. I've always been a fan of the 90 Schilling Ale and asked for help on making something similar. This is the response I got, verbatim.

Thanks for being such a big fan! It's always humbling to hear such praise for our beer.

A few pointers I can give you are that we use a blend of 2-row pale for our base malt. About 73% of the grist is pale. Other malts blended are Caramalt, Crystal 60L, Munich, and small amounts of chocolate and white wheat. We boil the wort for about 90 minutes in the kettle with 2 hop additions (90,45min). We then through 3 more additions post boil. One at WP, one after WP and one when we have about 20bbls of a 50bbl KO left.

The IBU's for 90 are around 27.

That's about all I feel comfortable giving out. Good luck and please stop by again next time you're in our neck of the woods. I be happy to buy you a couple beers and see how home brewing has been going.


Not homebrewer friendly? I disagree.
 

hercher

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I think some folks are missing the OP's point a little. It wasn't merely that Odell's declined to share the specifics of their recipe, it was the way they did it. While I probably wouldn't allow that to dictate how I spend my beer money, I understand the frustration. It is not entitlement to want to be treated courteously and respectfully. And while Coke and KFC guard their recipes quite seriously, I'm sure that requests for those aren't quite so dismissive.
 

bighorn_brew

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...Yeah I know. But If the company wont even acknowledge and deny my request they don't deserve my business.
What are you talking about, ? You can't spend your money on it anyway as you've already stated it isn't distributed to your area...........
 

JJL

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hercher said:
I think some folks are missing the OP's point a little. It wasn't merely that Odell's declined to share the specifics of their recipe, it was the way they did it. While I probably wouldn't allow that to dictate how I spend my beer money, I understand the frustration. It is not entitlement to want to be treated courteously and respectfully. And while Coke and KFC guard their recipes quite seriously, I'm sure that requests for those aren't quite so dismissive.
Actually odells probably gave him a better answer than coke or kfc. If it was one of them the answer would have been "We appreciate the fact that you are such a fan of our product but we can't give you the recipe for obvious reasons." The only difference is the coke and kfc are multibillion dollar companies with 24/7 customer service that would allow them to answer more quickly. Odds are at odells even if they have a customer service person he/she would probably have to go the the brewmaster to see how to answer the question. The brewmaster obviously has more important things to do than getting right back to a home brewer that wants him to share his recipe. The OP should be happy the brewmaster took the time to at least get involved. At least he got some info. Someone else could have answered more quickly but the OP probably wouldn't have gotten any info.
 

dallasdb

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I went through the first few pages and didn't see anybody mention the fact that the Odell reply could've been from some nobody at the brewery. When I was in management in the Powersports Industry I fell behind on customer replies and I would have another employee reply for me. Someone making min wage who probably really didn't care all that much about how the customer would receive a response. Granted I never really had an issue with a ticked off customer.

Maybe the OP should reply to the email and ask for some more specifics or ask for details in person if he has the chance.
 

dallasdb

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ReverseApacheMaster said:
I don't think there's a culture of bad customer service there but maybe the person responsible for answering emails is a bottleneck in their service.
^This
 

Mongrel

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Deschutes gets props. They don't tell you the percentages, but I don't care and I have put together my Abyss recipe for an upcoming brew day. It won't be exact, but it should be good.
http://www.deschutesbrewery.com/brews/homebrew-recipes
I love that Deschutes gives ingredients but not the percentages. Reverse engineering will make you a better brewer than simply brewing a clone. I also love the that they donate some really cool **** to my club, and that they want to taste what we've done with what they've donated, and that they've had what we've done tested in their lab. It also helps we get a $1 off pints at the Bend pub with our club cards :D
 

Sir Humpsalot

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When I first read this thread, I empathized with witt... I've been there. But I have found that if you really dig into a recipe, certain truths inevitably reveal themselves. You just have to rack your brain to find them!

Ultimately, the path you take to try and "clone" a beer is more important than the beer itself. Going through the process of deconstructing them teaches you things about the beers you love and gives you insight into different approaches. In fact, the process helps you identify what you love about the beer and, I think, if you build a recipe around your love for the beer you may very well end up with a beer you like even better than the original.

Cloning is fine for newbs (or people who are "a newb to brewing the style", as I am to Bourbon-aged stouts) but what really gets interesting is when you develop and refine the ability to hone in on what you like about a recipe and take it farther, do it one better.

OP, figure out what you love about this beer. You have enough details to get in the ballpark. Take what you love about it and try to maximize it. Even if it's not an exact clone, I bet it'll be one of the best beers you've ever made.

I believe that every great beer has some secret, some balance, some approach, that is unique. Think about how you would brew an Imperial Pilsner. There's "a game" there. Think about how you'd brew an American IPA, there's "a game" in figuring out how to balance it out. Figure out what game the brewer is playing and make your beer in the spirit of that game. I tend to get fairly close.
 

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Sir Humpsalot said:
When I first read this thread, I empathized with witt... I've been there. But I have found that if you really dig into a recipe, certain truths inevitably reveal themselves. You just have to rack your brain to find them!

Ultimately, the path you take to try and "clone" a beer is more important than the beer itself. Going through the process of deconstructing them teaches you things about the beers you love and gives you insight into different approaches. In fact, the process helps you identify what you love about the beer and, I think, if you build a recipe around your love for the beer you may very well end up with a beer you like even better than the original.

Cloning is fine for newbs (or people who are "a newb to brewing the style", as I am to Bourbon-aged stouts) but what really gets interesting is when you develop and refine the ability to hone in on what you like about a recipe and take it farther, do it one better.

OP, figure out what you love about this beer. You have enough details to get in the ballpark. Take what you love about it and try to maximize it. Even if it's not an exact clone, I bet it'll be one of the best beers you've ever made.

I believe that every great beer has some secret, some balance, some approach, that is unique. Think about how you would brew an Imperial Pilsner. There's "a game" there. Think about how you'd brew an American IPA, there's "a game" in figuring out how to balance it out. Figure out what game the brewer is playing and make your beer in the spirit of that game. I tend to get fairly close.
+1 Good Stuff
 

hercher

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When I first read this thread, I empathized with witt... I've been there. But I have found that if you really dig into a recipe, certain truths inevitably reveal themselves. You just have to rack your brain to find them!

Ultimately, the path you take to try and "clone" a beer is more important than the beer itself. Going through the process of deconstructing them teaches you things about the beers you love and gives you insight into different approaches. In fact, the process helps you identify what you love about the beer and, I think, if you build a recipe around your love for the beer you may very well end up with a beer you like even better than the original.

Cloning is fine for newbs (or people who are "a newb to brewing the style", as I am to Bourbon-aged stouts) but what really gets interesting is when you develop and refine the ability to hone in on what you like about a recipe and take it farther, do it one better.

OP, figure out what you love about this beer. You have enough details to get in the ballpark. Take what you love about it and try to maximize it. Even if it's not an exact clone, I bet it'll be one of the best beers you've ever made.

I believe that every great beer has some secret, some balance, some approach, that is unique. Think about how you would brew an Imperial Pilsner. There's "a game" there. Think about how you'd brew an American IPA, there's "a game" in figuring out how to balance it out. Figure out what game the brewer is playing and make your beer in the spirit of that game. I tend to get fairly close.
^ This.

Not to try to hijack the thread, but the whole discussion also sort of raises an interesting question: why try to clone a beer at all? Why would you want their recipe in the first place? If you like the beer, buy it. The reason I homebrew is that I want to make beer that isn't like anything else I can buy.

For the same reason, I don't think I have ever used a recipe I've found in any book or online or from any other source.

I have a huge advantage over every commercial brewery in the world: I am brewing for a market of 1. I can brew whatever style of beer I want, and I can use any ingredient I want (budget permitting, of course). I can and generally do brew a different beer every time. I rarely, if ever, brew a beer exactly the same twice. Why? Because I can, and because that is what makes homebrewing fun.

That said, when I design a beer, I have certain targets in mind -- a certain flavor profile usually, though I have brewed just to see if I can hit a certain color, or to find out what a certain ingredient tastes like.

So consider it a challenge to take the information you have, and "reverse engineer" the beer to hit that flavor you want, then make it better!
 

jwwbrennan

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I am brewing for a market of 1.
That's it. No matter what you are making, that's what makes it interesting. If others like it, that's nice; if not, oh well. I'm drinking a stout at this point I don't expect those around me to like so I made less hoppy beer and wine at the same time.

I am never crushed by the well-intended opinions of others, I have far too many of my own to need them.:D
 

rexbanner

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When I first read this thread, I empathized with witt... I've been there. But I have found that if you really dig into a recipe, certain truths inevitably reveal themselves. You just have to rack your brain to find them!

Ultimately, the path you take to try and "clone" a beer is more important than the beer itself. Going through the process of deconstructing them teaches you things about the beers you love and gives you insight into different approaches. In fact, the process helps you identify what you love about the beer and, I think, if you build a recipe around your love for the beer you may very well end up with a beer you like even better than the original.

Cloning is fine for newbs (or people who are "a newb to brewing the style", as I am to Bourbon-aged stouts) but what really gets interesting is when you develop and refine the ability to hone in on what you like about a recipe and take it farther, do it one better.

OP, figure out what you love about this beer. You have enough details to get in the ballpark. Take what you love about it and try to maximize it. Even if it's not an exact clone, I bet it'll be one of the best beers you've ever made.

I believe that every great beer has some secret, some balance, some approach, that is unique. Think about how you would brew an Imperial Pilsner. There's "a game" there. Think about how you'd brew an American IPA, there's "a game" in figuring out how to balance it out. Figure out what game the brewer is playing and make your beer in the spirit of that game. I tend to get fairly close.
You said it.

Brew enough and drink enough beers and you can easily tell the direction a beer has taken. Hop forward, or malt forward? Dry or sweet? What flavors do you taste? Personally, I'd rather focus on the direction of a beer I like rather than the specific ingredients because it is tough to exactly duplicate a taste anyways. For example, I always liked Chimay Red. I liked the direction it took; an easy-drinking, dry, lighter dubbel. I tailored mine to be the same way, but side-by-side, I like it more than Chimay, as do several other people.

A lot of this comes from experience and practice, though. You can read about ingredients but you have to use them to know them, and to learn how much you like in a beer.
 

zendog

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Like a few others have mentioned, you will never be able to truly clone a commercial beer. There are way too many process/environmental variables you will never duplicate. Every brewhouse and homebrewer's home is unique. You just need to focus on what attributes you like about a given beer(s) and start brewing! I make small tweaks each time I brew, always learning what works and doesn't. That's half the fun! Cheers!
 

beerloaf

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A friend of mine is the brewmaster for a local mico and he is very open to any questions from anyone. He also offered me yeast and tours even though they do not do that to the public. He runs a 12 bbl operation and brews 5 days every week with an assistant. That being said I think it all depends on the individual brewer. I personally would share my recipees but I have known even homebrewers who refuse to share theirs. I'm not surprised that some brewers refuse to do so. The pro-brewer scene is a lot different than what most people assume. Small breweries are fighting very aggressively for a very small piece of the pie that is their market share. It does get very competative and fierce. So the "not sharing" attitude comes with that territory.

beerloaf
 

jaynik

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Humph. More than one person in this thread says that if their preferred brewery won't give them their specific recipe they'll stop supporting them. Good grief...
 
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