Cloning The Substance – Part II

After driving home from Maine on Saturday evening and recovering from Beer Camp I was finally able to crack open a can of The Substance on Sunday. I was sure to drink slowly and critically to imagine what the ingredients were that they used. The malt was present to balance the beer, but stayed out of the way to let the hops shine. I figured the base malt was American 2-row. I didn’t detect any esters from the yeast so I felt safe in assuming that the yeast was the Chico strain (S05, 1056, WLP001). I was at a loss as to the hopping. Having only brewed a couple IPAs I wasn’t sure where to begin. If there was one high alpha acid hop like Centennial, and lighter hops like Cascade it would be easy to ascertain that the big hop would be the bittering hop, and the lighter hops the late additions. All the hops on the chalkboard were big, high alpha hops that could be used for bittering and aroma.


When I started formulating the recipe I knew I wanted to create an extract recipe. My cousin and all-grain brewing partner-in-crime Andy has been preoccupied with frivolous pursuits like getting married and planning his wedding. It didn’t seem like the best time to bug him about having a brew day at his house. If I brewed it at home I wanted to brew a full five gallon batch so I would have enough to share. With a simple malt-bill and a relatively high starting gravity, I didn’t think a partial-mash BIAB recipe made a lot of sense. An extract recipe would also be something a brewer of any skill level could brew.

I sat down on my iPad and played around with extract quantities until I hit an estimated 6.6% ABV. I did the best I could when estimating the hopping. Before I started working on the recipe I tweeted that I was going to clone the beer and write about it. While I was working on the recipe The Bissell Brothers Twitter account responded to my tweet and asked if I would like some hints!


Part of the exercise when I came up with the idea was to see how close I could get to cloning the beer. Getting help from the brewer might be considered cheating. At the same time I didn’t want to brew endless test batches trying to get the flavor and aroma just right. I ended up compromising with myself because I started to feel like I was out of my depth. I decided to finish my recipe, email it to Noah Bissell the brewmaster who offered to help, and ask him if there was anything glaringly wrong with what I came up with. It felt like trying to solve a math problem in school before the teacher explains to the class how to solve it. Here is what I came up with initially:

The Sustenance (The Substance Clone)
American IPA
Extract (5.00 gal) ABV: 6.62 %
OG: 1.066 SG FG: 1.015 SG
IBUs: 60.7 IBUs Color: 6.5 SRM

1 lb – Caramel/Crystal Malt – 20L
Steep prior to boil (9.8%) – 20.0 SRM
3 lb – Pilsner Dry Extract
Boil (29.3%) – 2.0 SRM
4.0 oz – Corn Sugar (Dextrose)
Boil (2.4%) – 0.0 SRM

0.50 oz – Summit
Boil 60 min (14.5 IBUs)

0.50 oz – Chinook
Boil 30 min (8.5 IBUs)

0.50 oz – Apollo
Boil 15 min (7.2 IBUs)

0.50 oz – Centennial
Boil 10 min (3.1 IBUs)

6 lb – Pilsner Liquid Extract
Late extract addition: 10 min (58.5%) – 3.5 SRM

0.25 tsp – Irish Moss
Boil 10 min

1 pkg – American Ale
Wyeast Labs #1056

1.00 oz – Falconer’s Flight
Dry Hop 14 days
0.50 oz – Centennial
Dry Hop 14 days

0.50 oz – Chinook
Dry Hop 23 days
0.50 oz – Apollo
Dry Hop 23 days
0.25 oz – Summit
Dry Hop 23 days

I used Pilsner extract because I thought there was some light crystal and I wanted to match the color. The hop schedule is based on 14 days in the primary and 14 in the secondary. I sent it to Noah not sure exactly what kind of response I would get. I got more advice than I would have ever asked for or would have ever hoped for.

The Substance has no caramel/crystal malt. The body and head retention came from a combination of flaked rye and flaked barley. The flaked rye provide a spicy flavor. Flaked barley is typically found in stouts to add body and mouthfeel. In an IPA it will add body without sweetness like Crystal, and that allows the hops to be front and center.

Bissell Brothers uses a few techniques for hopping that I have read about, but never used. Instead of a hop addition at the beginning of the boil there is a first wort hop addition. Hops are added as the initial wort is collected which is designed to contribute a smoother bitterness. The boil is 75 minutes, but the next hop additions aren’t until 20 and 10 minutes left in the boil. This is called hop bursting. You add lots of high alpha acid hops late in the boil so the beer has plenty of bitterness without sacrificing flavor and aroma. There is also a whirlpool hop addition. At a commercial brewery at the end of the boil and before chilling the wort, there will be a whirlpool inside the kettle so any trub from the boil will accumulate in the middle and not end up in the finished beer. Adding hops during the whirlpool will add aroma and some bitterness as the wort is still hot even if not quite boiling. I’ll stir the wort vigorously to create a whirlpool in the kettle. BeerSmith estimates the IBUs contributed based on how long the hops steep.

Noah gave me the parameters for the malt profile, hop schedule and amounts, and other tips. If he didn’t give the exact recipe it was pretty close. I’ve shown the email to a few people and they were suprissed how forthcoming he was. Great recipes don’t make great beer, great brewers do. Nobody in my family can replicate my nana’s American Chop Suey exactly either, even if my uncle David’s is fairly close. There really aren’t any secrets in brewing. If a smarter, more experienced, and better brewer than I really applies himself/herself, he/she can really come close to cloning anything. That is essentially how homebrew shops and websites develop their clone kits. Besides, as The Would-be Brewmaster I can still certainly screw this up.

As I waited for the temperature to cool so I could ferment at the proper temperature, I continually went back to the recipe and the email from Noah as I tweaked the recipe. Noah said I could take or leave the flaked grains and compensate with additional corn sugar which I almost did. I decided to keep it to get as close to the real thing as possible. I also included 1lb of 2-row to convert the starches in the unmated grain. I did round a few things and made some minor tweaks that I thought made sense for brewing on a homebrew scale. I decided to use WLP001 as the yeast because out of all the Chico varieties it attenuates the best and had the highest floccuation giving me the best chance to match the ABV, body, and appearance of The Substance.

Water chemistry is far less important when brewing extract beer because any minerals in the water used to create the extract will be in there. Now that I know how poorly suited Beverly water is to hoppy beer, how to eliminate the chlorine, and how to dilute the sodium levels I wanted to apply those lessons to this beer if it would help in any way.


Here is the final recipe I went with:
The Sustenance (The Substance Clone)
American IPA
Extract (5.50 gal) ABV: 6.23 %
OG: 1.060 SG FG: 1.013 SG
IBUs: 56.0 IBUs Color: 8.4 SRM

4.00 gal Salem/Beverly MA
2.00 gal Distilled Water

6.00 g – Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate)
Mash 60 min
1.00 Items – Campden Tablet
Mash 60 min

8.0 oz – Rye, Flaked
Steep prior to boil (4.8%) – 2.0 SRM
8.0 oz – Barley, Flaked
Steep prior to boil (4.8%) – 1.7 SRM
1 lb – Pale Malt (2 Row) US
Steep prior to boil (9.5%) – 2.0 SRM

0.10 oz – Summit
First Wort Addition (8.3 IBUs)

1 lb 8.0 oz – Light Dry Extract
Boil (14.3%) – 8.0 SRM

0.40 oz – Apollo
Boil 20 min (10.6 IBUs)

0.40 oz – Centennial
Boil 10 min (4.2 IBUs)
0.20 oz – Apollo
Boil 10 min (3.1 IBUs)
0.20 oz – Summit
Boil 10 min (2.8 IBUs)
1.00 tsp – Irish Moss
Boil 10 min
1.00 tsp – Yeast Nutrient
Boil 10 min

6.0 oz – Corn Sugar (Dextrose)
Add after boil complete (3.6%) – 0.0 SRM
6 lb 9.6 oz – Pale Liquid Extract
Add after boil complete (63.0%) – 8.0 SRM

0.75 oz – Falconer’s Flight
Steep 20 min (8.2 IBUs)
0.75 oz – Centennial
Steep 20 min (8.0 IBUs)
0.30 oz – Apollo
Steep 20 min (5.7 IBUs)
0.30 oz – Summit
Steep 20 min (5.1 IBUs)

0.5g Yeast Starter – California Ale
White Labs #WLP001

0.50 oz – Summit
Dry Hop 18 days
1.25 oz – Apollo
Dry Hop 18 days
1.75 oz – Falconer’s Flight
Dry Hop 18 days
1.25 oz – Centennial
Dry Hop 18 days
1.25 oz – Chinook
Dry Hop 18 days

For an all-grain batch I would substitute the extract with 9.75lbs American 2-row and mash at 149F for 75 minutes.

Ironically I spent more time on this recipe than I have any of my own original recipes in a long time. With all the time I put in, the new knowledge I am applying, and all the money I have spent on ingredients I really want this beer to be the best I can possibly make it.

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