Clones are a good way to compare your finished brew to the “actual” beer. Most breweries are fairly open about what goes into their beer…it’s the exclusive yeast strains and hops blends along with the specific process used that distinguishes their product. I also like clones because it is easier to start tweaking a recipe for a desired and measurable result, such as altering the body, color or flavor slightly.
While I enjoy coming up with my own recipes, I still do the occasional clone, especially when it’s the first time I am brewing a new style of beer. This is a nice skill as a lot of wedding/birthday presents amongst my friends involve custom brews for them…I can always make them their favorite beer!