Over the past 10 to 12 years, the Kentucky Common beer style has resurfaced and can be called truly American. Just like Cream Ale or Steam Beer, this style is one that we can call our own. Mike’s experiments with adjuncts, piqued his interest because this beer’s grain bill calls for a large portion of corn (maize). We present this post and video as the culmination of Mike’s research into Kentucky Common Beer, his creation of a recipe that was sized down to a homebrew volume, and our thoughts after tasting his beer.
What’s The Deal With This Beer?
According to the BJCP, Kentucky Common was produced and sold in a small part of the USA, around the city of Louisville, KY. It was prevalent in this area from the 1860s to 1920s (The Civil War to Prohibition). It was quickly produced, light in body, and low in alcohol.
Mike read up on the style since it is not widely available today as Prohibition nearly wiped it out. From his research, he found the uncovered historical recipes for the style. Many of the sources have adjusted the ingredients for today’s brewing practice. In general, this style today is comprised of 6-row malt, corn, Caramel 40° L malt and Black malt. Mike sees this beer as a darker version of American Cream Ale but with a significantly higher levels of corn in its grain bill. The historic recipes have corn grits in them. For his mash system, he choose flaked corn instead. He didn’t want to have his brew day get ruined with a gunked up mash tun. Since both products are pregelatinized forms of corn, the end result is the same.
Mike’s Kentucky Common Recipe
Here are the details of his recipe:
Volume: 6.5 US gallons – Post Boil
Assumed Mash Efficiency: 70%
7.75 pounds (3.515 kg) of Six-Row Malt (61%)
4.5 pounds (2.041 kg) of Flaked Corn (35%)
4 ounces (113 g) of 40°L Caramel malt (2%)
4 ounces (113 g) of Black Malt (2%)
0.5 ounces (14 g) of Cluster Hops at 7 %AA for 60 minutes
0.25 ounces (14 g) of Saaz at 3.75 %AA for 5 minutes
SafLager™ W-34/70 Dry Lager Yeast
Instructions and Targets:
Mash temperature: 152° F (66.6°C) for one hour
Boil time: 1 hour
Fermentation temperature and duration: ~60° F (15.5° C) for two weeks
Target Original Gravity: 1.052
Target Final Gravity: 1.012
Brew Dudes Tasting Notes
First off, this beer has a lovely amber color from the Caramel and Black malt. It is a bit cloudy but clarity is in its future. For comparison, Mike held a pint of the Kentucky Common next to his Cream ale, because of their corn content. The latter is crystal clear so the former should follow suit. There is a small note of malt in the aroma. For the flavor, it is remarkable how clean and simple this beer is. The corn is mildly sweet but the caramel malt and black malt seem to hide the corniness of it all. With the hop rates so low (especially in this day and age) this beer has no bitterness and only hints of hops in the aftertaste.
Overall, this beer presents itself exactly as advertised: a light and easy drinker. Brew this style if you’re looking for a change of pace.