How to Clone Your Favourite Beer

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Are you thinking about brewing your own beer? It is a popular hobby for many in the United States but why just brew your own beer when you can learn how to clone your favourite beer? I will tell you right from the beginning that it takes a good deal of experimentation and testing. Let’s start by reviewing the basic ingredients of beer before and how these ingredients affect the final product.

Yeast is the most important ingredient in beer making. It is a fungus that has been in use since the mid 18th century. Yeast converts sugars into alcohol through the 7-8 day process of fermentation. Each variety of yeast will add a unique character to the final product although it is the malt and hops that are primarily responsible for giving beer its flavor.

Finding the type of yeast used in the favourite beer of yours you are about to clone is vital and may take some extensive Google searches on your part to find it out. Look first on the beer manufacturer’s website or a third party beer guideline website. Additionally, you might try contacting a supplier of brewer’s yeast to the industry for their recommendation and opinion.

Malt is a necessary ingredient when making beer and is responsible for giving beer a distinct body and flavor. Malt comes from barley, a grain similar to wheat that must first be malted. Malting is the process of maximizing the amount of soluble starch by soaking barley until it sprouts. It is then drained and dried. This process results in the production of diastase, an enzyme responsible for converting the starch into maltose. Yeast metabolizes maltose into ethyl alcohol and CO2.

Discovering the malt used in your favourite beer should be easy to find. It may appear on the label of ingredients, advertising or simply by calling the brewery.

Hops are extracted from the female cone of a flowering hop vine and give beer flavor. The sweetness of the malt is balanced by the bitterness of the hops. The amount of bitterness is determined by the acid levels in the vine. This level varies from year to year and from crop to crop. Keeping accurate records is crucial. Hops contain oils which produce an aroma which gives the beer a quality all its own and is crucial in duplicating the taste of your favourite beer. The hops used in the beer you are cloning can be found in the same way as locating malt.

There are other elements that are considered when making or cloning beer. The carbonation level is important as is the type of water (hard or soft) used. The advanced beer maker may want to obtain water from the town where the beer originates from. The alcohol content of the beer should not be “adjusted” as this will also affect the overall taste of the beer.

When cloning beer, discovering the specific types of yeasts, hops, grains, and spices are key. There are books and magazines available on the subject and many provide accurate recipes for premium beers from around the world. Two books I highly recommend are “Clone Brews: Homebrew recipes for 150 commercial beers”, by Tess Szamatulski, Mark Szamatulski and “Pocket Guide to Beer” by British author Michael Jackson who has written numerous books on the subject. The breweries will be helpful in answering specific questions and it is recommended to locate a homebrew supply store in your area.

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