Way back in August I brewed an Irish Red Ale, using Newport Storm's Spring Seasonal as my inspiration. I was trying to hit as close as I could to the original, given a few "constraints" - I couldn't get me hands on amber malt, so I subbed some Vienna malt in its place, and instead of Magnum hops for bittering, I used some Northdown hops that I happen to already have. And oh, I subbed some flaked barley for the Cara-pils in the original (not sure why other than I've never used Cara-pils, instead relying on wheat or flaked barley for body and head retention). I realize that these changes could have a significant impact on the resulting beer. But still, I thought I would get something close.
Gaelic Storm vs. Newport Storm's Spring Ale
Appearance - I hit the color dead-on. Both beers are a beautiful red-brown with an off-white head. Beer Smith estimates my color at 15.6 SRM, but I think both are darker than that - maybe 18ish (though definitely not the 33 SRM that Newport Storm lists on their website). Mine is more highly carbonated and has more of a frothy head. Great clarity. Really, a pretty beer.
Aroma - The aromas are noticeably different. Mine has a more "intense" hop aroma, though, to be fair, I'm judging a bottle of Newport Storm's that is almost a year old given this is their Spring seasonal. Even though they are different, there is still an obvious similarity - both have an earthy, spiciness to them, more so in mine. Much more malt/caramel aroma coming from theirs, which isn't surprising given the grist differences noted above.
Taste - Like the aroma, there is a noticeable difference in flavor. In fact, the taste differences tend to mirror the aroma differences. Bitterness seems about right - noticeable, but not overpowering. Both have a strong malt flavor - bready/toasty, with a hint of roast, but mine is less caramelly/sweet. Again, this is understandable given my substitutions. There's a major difference in hop flavor - mine is much more assertive - very earthy and spicy, perhaps too much so. I attribute this to the EKG hops. I didn't know what Newport Storm's hopping rate or schedule was, so I had to wing it. I think I used too much. I think there is also a bot of carbonic bite adding to the perception of spiciness.
Mouthfeel - Good body. Mine is more highly carbonated, but not so much as to detract from enjoying the beer.
Overall - Mine's not a clone of Newport Storm's, which I didn't really think it would be given the changes I made. Still, both are clearly related. My beer is a pretty easy drinker - malty, but not sweet. Though I think it could use a little caramel sweetness to it. I'd also rather the hop flavor were more subdued - the spiciness overpower the malt and keeps me from enjoying this beer more. Definitely a recipe that I would try again with some tweaks.