|HopHands on the right and HopWards on the left.|
However, the recipe needs some work for it to be considered cloned, as you'll see in my side by side tasting notes below. I grabbed a growler of HopHands the other night and poured it and HopWards in the same glasses for inspection. Below are my findings.
Appearance: A deep straw golden yellow with significant haze on both, head on both is thin bright white, HH and HW both leave significant lacing on the glass. Carbonation on HopWards is visibly evident with a steady stream running up the glass from the etching at the bottom, HopHands is much more soft on the visible carbonation. But you really have to look closely and hold it up to the light to see the carbonation on either. The overall appearance on both is identical,as you can see in the photo, I actually had to mark one glass so I didn't mix them up.
Aroma: HopWards is more tangerines, orange, with some pineapple and significant a bready malt aroma, kind of like shoving your face in a bag of oats filled with tropical citrus fruit, too much of those oats actually. HopHands is littered with citrus aromas as well, pineapple, orange, some grapefruit, a very faint malt aroma in the background. A tie here with a slight edge to HopHands as the malt aroma may be distracting in HopWards, hop aroma on mine is actually brighter and more inviting though. They are both probably equally as fresh as TH plows through beer as fast as any.
Taste: HopHands has low to moderate bitterness, just enough to outshine the malt so you know its a hoppy beer. Smooth body upfront with citrus notes throughout, finishes drier than I expected. HopWards has a creamy mouth feel, no real hop bite almost a porter like body, citrus notes that give way to a crackery malt character. The finish is fuller bodied, not dry and a much softer hop bite on the back of the palette. Edge HopHands.
Overall: So my "clone" stands on its own pretty well, but when put up against the original it shows some its deficiencies, although they are very easily remedied. The color is spot on, as you can see, so is the carbonation and the appearance in general. One thing to note is that the yeast character in comparison is spot on, clean fermentation, slight fruit esters that seem to meld well with the hoppy notes and help to to shine.
I think the big issue in not calling it cloned is mine certainly is heavy on the Oats, possibly not dry enough, and maybe low on the bitterness, although I think a drier beer would help in perceived bitterness. All in all I think I am very close, a few minor changes and I think I have it. On the next batch I will dial back the Oats to 12-13%, make up for it in base malt, and mash lower. I am inclined to increase bitterness but I want to keep it to two minor changes for now.
The other half of this batch is still sitting in a keg with Brett Custersianus, my issues with the Oats in this batch will probably work well with the Brett addition actually. In the future I could see this being a beer that I brew 100% Brett batches of, probably as soon as batch 2.
Cloned? Maybe maybe not, but for the first attempt I got very close. Stay tuned, I plan to re-brew this with two small tweaks in the next few weeks.