Clone Beer

Hey there, beer buddy! Let’s chat about Clone Beers – brews designed to imitate iconic and sometimes hard-to-find beers.

Clone brewers aim to reverse engineer and recreate beers they love, whether cult favorites or those with limited availability. They strive to achieve the same aroma, appearance, flavor and mouthfeel as the original.

Clone recipes vary from precise grain bills and hopping schedules to more loose interpretations. Some clones like Heady Topper by 14th Star Brewing nail the original quite closely!

Other examples are MoreBeer’s Pliny the Elder clone kit, Northern Brewer’s Tropical Torpedo IPA replicating Ballast Point’s Sculpin, and Mainiacal Yeast’s Heisenberg clone of New Glarus Spotted Cow.

Trying both the inspiration beer and its clone side-by-side makes for a fun taste test. And clone kits allow homebrewers to make versions of their white whale commercial beers.

Have you ever sipped a craft beer and thought, “I wish I could make this at home”? Welcome to the world of clone beer! Clone beer is not about creating a science fiction movie scenario; it’s about replicating your favorite beers in your own brewing setup.

What Exactly is Clone Beer?

Imagine having a pint of your favorite brew and getting that urge to recreate it. That’s what clone beer is all about.

It’s the art and science of mimicking commercial beer at home, striving to match its taste, aroma, color, and mouthfeel. It’s like being a culinary copycat, but for beer!

A Brief History

Beer cloning isn’t a new fad. It dates back to when homebrewing started gaining popularity. Brewers would taste a beer, fall in love with it, and then try to reverse-engineer the recipe.

With the rise of craft brewing, the trend only got bigger. Homebrewers started sharing recipes online, turning cloning into a beloved hobby for beer enthusiasts.

Why Clone Beer?

Why bake a cake at home when you can buy it? Because it’s fun, fulfilling, and you control the ingredients! The same goes for clone beer. It’s a challenge, a hobby, and for many, a passion.

Plus, cloning lets you tweak the recipe to your liking. Maybe you want a hoppier IPA or a richer stout? Cloning puts you in the brewmaster’s seat.

The Process of Cloning Beer

So, how do you clone a beer? It’s a mix of detective work, science, and a bit of luck. But don’t worry, it’s not as daunting as it sounds.

Overview of the Cloning Process

The journey of cloning a beer starts with tasting and research. You need to understand what goes into the beer – the types of hops, malt, yeast, and any special ingredients.

Then, it’s about finding the right balance of these ingredients to replicate the flavor profile.

Essential Tools and Ingredients

You’ll need a basic homebrewing kit: fermenters, bottles, caps, and sanitation equipment. The ingredients will vary based on the beer you’re cloning, but generally, you’ll need malt, hops, yeast, and water.

Sometimes, you might need special ingredients like certain fruits or spices.

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Taste and Analyze: Drink the beer you want to clone (the fun part!) and note down its characteristics.
  2. Research: Look up any available information about the beer. Some breweries even share their recipes!
  3. Gather Ingredients: Based on your research, buy the necessary ingredients.
  4. Brew: Follow a standard brewing process, but adjust it according to your beer’s specific needs.
  5. Ferment and Bottle: Allow your beer to ferment, then bottle it.
  6. Taste and Tweak: Compare it with the original. It might take a few tries to get it right!

Now you might be wondering, “What beers should I start with?” Let’s dive in.

List of Top Beers Commonly Cloned

  1. IPA Lovers: Go for a classic like the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
  2. Stout Fans: Try cloning a Guinness or a Founders Breakfast Stout.
  3. Wheat Beer Enthusiasts: Hoegaarden or Blue Moon are great choices.
  4. Lager Aficionados: How about a Sam Adams Boston Lager clone?

Flavor Profiles and Characteristics

Each beer has its unique profile. An IPA is hoppy and bitter, while a stout is rich and creamy. Understanding these characteristics is key to successful cloning.

For instance, cloning a pale ale means focusing on getting the right hop aroma and bitterness.

Advantages and Challenges of Cloning Beer

Diving into the world of clone beer is like opening a Pandora’s box of brewing – it’s full of surprises, both delightful and challenging.

Pros of Cloning Beer

Learning and Experimentation

Cloning is a fantastic way to learn about brewing. It pushes you to understand the nuances of different beer styles and ingredients. Plus, it’s a playground for experimentation. Want to add a personal twist to a classic IPA? Go for it!


Craft beers can be pricey, but brewing them at home? Much more wallet-friendly. Once you have your setup, the cost per pint drops significantly.

Satisfaction and Community

There’s an undeniable pride in sipping a beer you’ve cloned yourself. It’s a rewarding hobby that connects you with a community of like-minded enthusiasts. Homebrewing forums and clubs are filled with brewers eager to share their cloning conquests and tips.

Cons and Potential Challenges

Time and Effort

Cloning isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it process. It requires time, patience, and attention to detail. If you’re looking for instant gratification, this might not be your cup of…beer.

Unpredictable Results

Even with meticulous planning, your clone might not taste exactly like the original. Water chemistry, ingredient variations, and brewing conditions play significant roles.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

When diving into clone brewing, it’s essential to tread carefully in the realms of legality and ethics.

Intellectual Property Issues

Is cloning a beer recipe infringement? Well, it’s a gray area. Brewing a clone for personal use is generally fine. However, selling your clone or using it for commercial purposes can land you in hot water.

Ethical Implications in the Brewing Community

There’s a fine line between homage and plagiarism. Always give credit where it’s due. If you’re sharing a clone recipe, acknowledge the original brewer. It’s about respect and maintaining a healthy brewing community.

Community and Resources

You’re not alone on your clone beer journey. There’s a whole world of resources and communities out there.

Online Forums and Communities for Beer Cloning

HomebrewTalk, Reddit’s r/Homebrewing, and Brewtoad are treasure troves of information. You’ll find recipes, advice, and support from fellow homebrewers.

Books and Resources for Further Learning


  • “CloneBrews” by Tess and Mark Szamatulski
  • “Brewing Classic Styles” by Jamil Zainasheff and John J. Palmer


  • The American Homebrewers Association website
  • Brewing blogs and YouTube channels dedicated to cloning

Cloning beer is a journey filled with experimentation, learning, and a sense of community. Whether you’re a seasoned brewer or a newbie, the adventure of replicating your favorite beer is both challenging and rewarding.

Case Studies

Let’s look at some real-life examples to understand the impact and success of beer cloning.

Success Stories of Homebrewers Who Have Cloned Famous Beers

The Pliny the Elder Clone

One of the most ambitious clone attempts is the Pliny the Elder, a famous double IPA. Homebrewers have come incredibly close, with some even claiming to have nailed it. These stories are a testament to the precision and dedication of the cloning community.

Guinness at Home

Another popular target is Guinness. By focusing on getting the right balance of roasted barley and nitrogen carbonation, homebrewers have been able to replicate this classic stout, bringing the taste of Ireland into their homes.

Comparative Analysis of Cloned vs. Original Beers

In blind taste tests, beer enthusiasts often struggle to tell apart the clone from the original. This speaks volumes about the quality that can be achieved. However, minor differences in water composition and brewing conditions can create subtle variations.

Web Ratings and Reviews

To guide you in your cloning journey, let’s delve into some ratings and reviews.

Ratings of Clone Beer Kits and Resources

Beer Cloning Kits

Many kits receive high ratings, especially those that replicate simpler styles like pale ales and stouts. Kits for more complex beers like sours tend to have more varied reviews.

Online Resources

Websites and forums dedicated to cloning are generally rated highly for their community support and wealth of information.

Reviews from Homebrewers and Experts

The consensus is clear: cloning is a highly rewarding hobby. Homebrewers love the challenge and the satisfaction of getting close to their favorite brews. Experts often praise the creativity and learning curve involved in beer cloning.

Pros and Cons Section

Let’s break down the advantages and disadvantages of cloning beer.


  • Educational: Enhances understanding of brewing processes and ingredients.
  • Customization: Ability to tweak recipes to personal taste.
  • Community Engagement: Access to a supportive and knowledgeable community.
  • Cost-Effective: Generally cheaper than buying commercial equivalents.


  • Time-Consuming: Requires patience and time.
  • Variable Results: Clones may not always taste exactly like the original.
  • Legal and Ethical Considerations: Must navigate intellectual property and ethical concerns.


Let’s address some common questions about clone beer to clear up any doubts and provide more insight.

1. What is the easiest beer style to clone for beginners?

  • A: Pale ales and basic stouts are great starting points due to their simpler recipes and brewing processes.

2. Can I legally sell my cloned beer?

  • A: Selling cloned beer can infringe on intellectual property rights and requires appropriate licenses. It’s generally not legal without proper permissions.

3. How close can a clone beer taste to the original?

  • A: With precise ingredients and brewing conditions, a clone can come very close to the original, although subtle differences are often present.

4. Do I need advanced brewing equipment to clone beer?

  • A: No, basic homebrewing equipment is usually sufficient, especially for simpler beer styles.

5. How do I find clone recipes?

  • A: Clone recipes can be found in homebrewing books, online forums, and brewing websites.

6. Is it ethical to clone a craft brewery’s beer?

  • A: As long as it’s for personal use and not for sale, it’s generally considered acceptable within the homebrewing community.

7. How long does it take to clone a beer?

  • A: The time varies based on the beer style and fermentation process, ranging from a few weeks to several months.

8. Can I enter my cloned beer in homebrew competitions?

  • A: Yes, as long as you adhere to the competition’s rules and guidelines.

9. What are the main factors that affect the outcome of a cloned beer?

  • A: Water chemistry, ingredient quality, and brewing process precision are key factors.

10. Can I improve the original recipe when cloning?

  • A: Absolutely! Part of the fun is tweaking the recipe to suit your taste preferences.


In essence, clone beer is more than just a hobby; it’s a form of expression, a learning experience, and a bridge that connects homebrewers around the globe.

Whether you’re replicating a world-renowned beer or adding a personal twist to a classic, the journey of beer cloning is filled with discovery, creativity, and of course, delicious beer.

The future of beer cloning looks bright, with an ever-growing community of enthusiasts and an increasing array of resources and tools. So, grab your brewing kit, pick your favorite beer, and embark on the rewarding adventure of cloning beer!