Monday 31 October 2022

Stone & Wood Pacific Ale Clone - Tasting Results

We recently attempted a clone of Stone & Wood's highly regarded Pacific Ale - a galaxy hopped Pale Ale using only barley and wheat using this recipe.

Here's how it turned out.

Our version is pictured on the left with the bottled version on the right in the picture above.

Straight off you can see that our version is noticeably darker which we found surprising as when it's on it's own the appearance is very light. Guessing the colour could be lightened further by increasing the amount of flaked wheat and reducing the amount of malted wheat. We'd be going for a mixture of 60% pale malt, 20% wheat malt, and 20% flaked wheat which still keeps in line with the much reported 60/40 split of ale malt to wheat. We're surprised a beer could be this light without the inclusion of pilsner malt!

Aroma wise and unsurprisingly the beers are very similar - since we know for sure that only Galaxy hops are used. The aromas are perhaps a little stronger from our version - and this isn't surprising considering ours is only a few weeks old, and the bottling date printed on the bottle is from several months ago.

Which brings us to the tasting. As mentioned above, the bottle we have is several months old so we're not considering this an entirely fair or equal comparison as it's definitely well past it's prime. We know for certain that a fresh bottle, or a pint of Pacific Ale on tap at the pub is noticeably better. We'd describe the bottle we have as "muted" - not bad by any stretch but certainly lacking a lot of those intense fruity aromas of passionfruit and citrus that Galaxy hops and Stone & Wood's Pacific Ale are renowned for.

The body and mouthfeel on the bottled version was marginally lighter than ours.

The bottled version had a slightly crispier finish, and was perhaps a little drier. Increasing the flaked wheat in the recipe as mentioned above could help ours replicate this a bit better - since flaked wheat is known to give a crisper mouthfeel to that of wheat malt.

Ours is perhaps a little more bitter, however we think that only having late hop additions is the right way to go for this beer. A 30 or 60 minute addition would likely impart too much up front bitterness, unless it was really small, like 5 IBU's or so.

In saying that, we're very happy with how this has turned out - it's a totally crushable and enjoyable summer ale style of beer.

What would we change if we tried it again? As mentioned above, we'd increase the amount of flaked wheat to help get the colour closer to the original and promote that crisp/dry finish. We also think it would be fun to try with a different yeast, particularly Verdant IPA which would really help accentuate and contribute some more fruity flavours.

Another interesting test would be to flip the water chemistry around a little. We went with the "hoppy" profile in Brewfather which has increased sulphate levels and reduced chloride which helps to accentuate the hop flavour and provide a dry finish. A common technique used in aggressively hoppy styles like New England IPA's or Hazy IPA's is to have a high chloride to sulphate ratio to help balance the aggressive hop load which has elevated chloride levels and reduced sulphate levels. This could be worth a shot and then increase the dry hop to over 100g.

It's certainly fun trying to replicate commercial beers - we're not worlds away with this first attempt and we've definitely gained some insight into exactly what goes into making the Stone & Wood Pacific Ale.

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