Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Inbred Brown: Kentucky Common

Kentucky Common is a style that was hugely popular in and around Louisville, Kentucky at the beginning of the 1900's.  It is estimated that in 1913 almost 80% of the beer consumed in the region was of this style.  Many local breweries in the area made their own version of this style, so it is not unreasonable to expect that there would have been some variation from brewery to brewery.  Although Kentucky Common was at one point very popular, like many beers brewed before prohibition, the style was mostly lost as the popularity of commercialized light lager grew.  Since this Kentucky Ale has not been continually brewed since its heyday, it is difficult to really know what this beverage tasted like.  What we do know from a few historical texts is that this was a dark beer, brewed with a large portion of corn, rounded out with other distiller's grains such as Malted Barley, Rye and or Wheat and fermented by way of Sour Mash.  It is believed that the Kentucky Common borrowed heavily from its distilled cousin, Bourbon.  As mentioned previously, the grists were similar, including Corn, Barley and to a lesser degree Rye and Wheat.  Like Bourbon, the fermentation took place via sour mash & it is very possible that used Oak Bourbon casks would have been used as a fermenter as well as a vessel for transportation & serving.

For our first attempt brewing this style, we utilized a sour mash in conjunction with a lightly hopped grist made up of Malted Barley, Flaked Corn, Rye Malt & Roasted Barley.  After cooling, the wort was fermented with a Brewer's Yeast native to the US.

For our most recent attempt, we decided to conduct our sour ferment initially with a pure Lactobacillius strain.  After the beer is soured to our liking, we will pitch a 'clean' ale strain to work on the rest of the sugars.  One other major difference for this batch is the choice of fermenting vessel;  while our initial batch was fermented in a normal fermenter, this batch will spend its entire pre-packaged life fermenting in a used Whiskey cask. We are extremely excited to see how this 100% barrel fermentation will affect the final product. We are also pretty pleased to have these barrels in our collection; thanks to Few Spirits & Spiteful Brewing.

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