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Can I Brew a Beer Like That?

July 26, 2014 by Rick Morris

Emulate your favorite commercial beers by brewing clones at home

Every novice home brewer enjoys the process of gathering and carefully cooking up a batch of beer, whether a simple American Ale or a complex Belgium Tripel.  As skills improve, the exciting transition to all-grain brewing quickly follows.  Pretty soon, the home brewer is discovering and understanding the results from the varying types of malts, hops, and yeast.  It is usually at this time when the question of brewing a beer similar to a commercial favorite is possible.  In other words, "can I brew a beer like that Oranjeboom I had in Amsterdam?"

Certainly!  Well, that's the short answer.  The long one being, certainly... if you can get your water PH and quality comparable to the location of origin in which the beer derives, and if you can obtain a quality and similar yeast as the one used, and if you can land your hands on hops of type, and if you can achieve the goal of mimicking the brewing process (times, temperatures, hop schedule, etc.), and if you can bring all the correct ingredients together in the proper ratios required... well, yes... you can brew a beer like that!

Naturally, there are some who have achieved the level of home brewing that permits them to brew decent "clones" of just about any beer in the world.  These folks are so good at brewing beer at home they typically move on to starting their own craft brewery or brew pub. 

The average home brewer, however just doesn't have the skills to brew any beer they want.  Even if that brewer did, he or she wouldn't be able to maintain consistency in the product.  And, consistency is something breweries spend dearly upon.

Having said that, it's good to know that there are plenty of "clone kits" available for your home brewing enjoyment.  Some of them provide close copies of the original.  But most are more or less regional versions of a pilsner, English Ale, Oktoberfest, IPA, etc. 

You see, the problem is not obtaining the ingredients for brewing a commercial beer clone.  Courtesy their local home brew supplies store, or the internet, the typical home brewer can purchase the same malts, hops, and yeast the large brewers use.  And, brewing water can be altered with certain chemicals that make it very similar in minerals and composition as the host location's water.  Unfortunately for the home brewer it's an accurate "recipe" that is required.  How much malt?  When exactly do I add the hops?  How long is the boil? 

And, that's where the trouble starts when trying to brew a batch of your favorite commercial beer.  But, don't let that stop you from trying!  You see, you can do whatever you want.  In the process, you just may end up with a new taste of beer... one that you will brew again and again.  Of course, you could end up with 5 gallons of yuk!  Either way, you are brewing your own beer.  That's what matters most.  Moreover, you're learning new techniques and brewing features. 

So, the next time you drink a commercial beer and want to try making a clone, don't let anyone tell you it's impossible.  Just do your homework before purchasing what you think are the necessary ingredients.  Then, pull out the home brew kettle and get busy...


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