Friday, November 26, 2010

Five Gallons At A Time: Kvetching about Clones

Brew Your Own is a great magazine. Ashton Lewis, an articulate and highly-educated professional brewer, answers readers' technical questions. Jamil Zainasheff, a multiple Ninkasi award-winner at the AHA National Homebrew Competition, writes about how to brew various beer styles. Chris Colby, the editor, puts brewing conventions to the test with his worldwide brewing experiments (and elegantly designs the tests to minimize the inherent procedural inconsistencies between experimenters). The editorial review board is populated with ingredient suppliers and acclaimed commercial brewers. There's a nice little table near the front that explains the magazine's recipe assumptions so you can easily adjust the published recipes to suit your brewing setup. In short, a lot of thought goes into the magazine and it shows.

However, there's one topic I've never paid much attention to: clone recipes. That changed when I saw the latest BYO cover page, which boldly proclaimed "New Recipes & New Tips from New Belgium". Think what you will about New Belgium selling beer in Wisconsin, but their understanding and application of brewing science are top-notch. When they discuss brewing practices, I listen. Turning straight to the article, I was disappointed to see a clone recipe of 1554 that would taste absolutely nothing like 1554. I'm not sure I can print the recipe without legal hassle, but anyone who's tasted both the beer and Belgian Dark Candi Syrup can attest that the syrup, or something similar, is a major ingredient in 1554. So why was I looking at an all-malt recipe?

Reading through the article, I couldn't find any mention of the brewery giving advice on the recipe (the body of the article claims that 1554 is fermented with lager yeast, but it didn't attribute the claim to the brewery itself). Translating a recipe from a commercial brewery to a home brewery is largely an uncontrolled process, but incorporating the commercial brewery's ingredients and procedures will get you a lot closer to the mark than simply guessing. I'm not suggesting that homebrewing magazines only print clone recipes with extensive professional input, but publishing which aspects of the recipes come straight from the sources would make troubleshooting a lot easier for cloning enthusiasts.

1 comment:

  1. Here! Here! As a subscriber to BYO, I have experienced the same frustrations.


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