It's twelve years since Tess and Mark Szamatulski published the first edition of Clone Brews, a slim volume containing detailed instructions on how to recreate 150 different beers from around the world. The book was a hit with homebrewers, with its combination of clear, concise instructions and the enhancement of extract recipes with minimash and all-grain options. The end results of recipes, anecdotally speaking, tend not to be exact replicas of the beer being copied, but it's a useful book for when you want to make a beer in a particular style and you know of a commercial example.
Now, the publishers have released a revised and expanded edition of the book, incorporating even more clonable beers.
Edition 2 is significantly larger than the first: 439p rather than 171. But the first thing to note is that 2.5 times the size does not equal 2.5 times the recipes. In fact, only 50 new clone recipes are included here, plus the 150 from the first edition. The extra page space comes from the expanded information given for each recipe. Two pages are dedicated to the beer, incorporating the instructions set out in a clearer, less cluttered way than before, plus expanded information on the beer's background as well as serving information (glassware, temperature, whether it can be aged) and the foods it works best with.
The 150 recipes which are repeated have been revised and, in some cases, given a significant adjustment. For example, Shepherd Neame Spitfire has had its IBUs raised from 35 to 39 and its ABV dropped from 5.2% to 4.7%. That real Spitfire was reduced from 4.7% to 4.5% some years back suggests that the authors may be using old beer reference books in their formulations rather than the beers themselves. (The food pairing given for Spitfire, incidentally, is that well-known Kentish delicacy New Orleans crawfish étouffée with fried okra.)
Conveniently, the recipes are arranged by broad style categories, starting with the Light Lagers and Pilsners, through Amber and Dark Lagers, Pale Ales, Porters, Stouts, Wheat Beers, Belgian Strong Ales, English Strong Ales and a last chapter for the more esoteric beers, incorporating the likes of Alaskan Smoked Porter, Fraoch and Rodenbach Grand Cru. The selection has been done rather oddly, given what home brewers tend to prefer to make and drink. There are, for instance, 35 light lager recipes, incorporating the worst yellow fizz from a stunning variety of countries (yes, Harp is there) yet a mere ten US IPAs feature. Though, since they include such luminaries as Avery Maharaja, Stone IPA and Southern Tier Un*earthly, a bit of thought has clearly gone into it. The handiest thing about the genre arrangement is that you can flick through a number of recipes in the same section and get a feel for what sort of ingredients go into that style, before sitting down and putting your own recipe together -- it's much more satisfying than trying to slavishly clone something and then being disappointed with the results. Directories at the back list hops and grains, suggesting the beer genres in which they work best.
Obviously, the book is not in the same league as Les Howarth's Home Brewer's Recipe Database. It's pitched much more at the beginner level and can be used, if you so wish, as a complete step-by-step guide to beer making. It's ideal, then, for the novice brewer to start to learn the correlations between ingredients and finished beer flavours without having to do lots of experimental batches. And even when you know your way around it will be handy to leaf through for recipe inspiration.