(Originally published in Maine Today Magazine on September 16, 2014.)
Do you crave a beer that you can’t buy here in Maine? Maybe it’s the elusive Pliny the Elder from Russian River Brewing in California. Or perhaps you still haven’t had the luxury of trying a Heady Topper from the Alchemist in Vermont. Or maybe Zombie Dust from Three Floyds in Indiana has piqued your interest, but you just can’t get your hands on a bottle of that diabolical IPA.
If the I-can’t-buy-that-beer-in-Maine blues have you feeling low, fret not. Maine Brewing Supply on Forest Ave in Portland has you covered.
The homebrew shop has started selling clone recipes of world-renowned beers both from Maine and beyond. A sign outside the store urges: “If you can’t get ‘em, brew ‘em!”
I first discovered their well-crafted clone recipes last year when I asked Kyle Jongerden, the Brewing Supply attendant, if they had any bottles of Zombie Dust in their well-stocked beer cooler. He nearly fell over laughing.
His laughter subsided, however, and he smiled at me and said, “We don’t have any bottles, but I have a good recipe for it.”
Next thing you know, my arms are filled with the arsenal to make the impossible-to-get Zombie Dust. I brew it, bottle it, and let it sit. A month later I’m sipping the best homebrew I’ve ever made. The beer is citrusy from the 8 oz. of Citra hops and well balanced from the recipe’s perfect grain/malt portions.
Last month, feeling the itch to brew, I headed to Maine Brewing Supply. On this trip Jongerden told me he had just perfected a Heady Topper recipe
I was so thrilled I think I may have done a backflip. As Jongerden gathered the ingredients into a green mesh bag, he explained that he’s been hunched over his computer for weeks digging through the deep recesses of internet beer forums, looking at recipes, trying out different configurations of ingredients in his own kitchen, until finally, he created a recipe that resembles the highly rated double IPA from Vermont.
Anyone who has ever crawled into the rabbit hole of internet forums knows how persnickety these people can be. What I love is that Jongerden is willing to enter these forums so we don’t have to. He does the dirty work and emerges with astounding homebrew recipes.
In a side-by-side comparison, my clone Heady Topper holds its own with the original. Though I seem to have fallen a bit short on capturing the magic. This is all the more reason to try again!
What’s their most popular clone recipe? It’s actually a beer brewed right here in Portland: The Substance from Bissell Brothers Brewing. Seems like people can’t get enough of that beer right now.
Whether you’re an expert homebrewer or just thinking about buying your first homebrewing kit, head to Maine Brewing Supply, grab one of Kyle’s recipes, and bring the magic to your kitchen.