Comparing a real Two Hearted to my clone

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I tried to brew a decent clone of Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, one of my favorite beers, during my last brew session. Now that the beer has carbonated, and I have gotten past my awful spring cold, I was able to compare the real thing to my homebrew side by side.

I refrigerated one bottle of each beer, poured them into two similar glasses, and placed them side by side. My homebrew is on the left, in the 1965 ISU glass. Bell’s Two Hearted is on the right, in the 1975 ISU glass.

Beer comparison

As the photo shows, we had a big snowstorm in late march. It also shows that my homebrew is a slightly lighter color than the Bell’s brew. This could be that Bell’s uses a longer boil, but it is more likely that the real thing has a higher percentage of the darker malts. It could also be that the Colorado malt I used is paler than Bell’s pale malt. Whatever the actual cause, the color isn’t quite there.

The photo also shows that my homebrew has a larger head, though the color and size of the bubbles are very similar. This could be because I carbonated to a slightly higher level, or it could be another factor affecting head retention. It’s hard to say.

The homebrew had a more noticeable hop aroma. A really nice bright floral note when I stuck my nose in the glass. The Bell’s beer had much less of a up front hop aroma, but it could be the time it spent since bottling (bright hop notes fade over time).

The Bell’s brew had a much more up front hop flavor on the tongue though. I don’t think it was actually much more bitter, as the perceived malt levels of both beers were pretty similar, but I think that they may have used more hops in the later parts of the boil. Mine had a pleasant hop flavor, but nowhere near as assertive as Bell’s. I think moving the hop additions around a bit so that the IBUs stay similar but more hops are added in the last 15-20 minutes of the boil would help.

In the end, I made a very tasty well balanced American IPA. But I didn’t quite match my target. I might try this again in the future with slight changes to get the color and hops closer to the real thing. Things to try include more caramel malt, whole hops rather than pellet hops, and hop schedule changes.

And even though I didn’t match the target beer, I’m still going to thoroughly enjoy drinking what I did make.

Posted on 26 March 2013