25 June 2005

Kentucky Common Beer

Kentucky Common, or Kentucky Sour Mash Beer, as its name implies, came out of Kentucky, and is one of only two American beer styles.

To make whiskey, the distillers mash grains with with hops and allow it to ferment. The distillers then distill the beer into whiskey. I suspect that Sour Mash Beer was made from this mash.

Fred Eckhard, in The Essentials of Beer Style, described the style as being very dark, almost a dark as Guinness stout. It had an original gravity of 1040-1050, and an average bitterness of 27 IBUs and brewed with 2% lactobacillum in the yeast. He also listed a Pennsyvania Swankey, which I assume is a variation of Kentucky common, that was brewed with anise seed boiled for 30 minutes.

To create this recipe, I started with a BYO recipe for a golden age pilsner. Since most whiskeys are made with corn and rye, I thought their presence in the BYO recipe made sense if I were to recreate a Kentucky Common Beer.

Here's my Prototype recipe (10 gallons):

Kentucky Common Beer

  • Flaked maize – 2 lb
    Flaked Rye – 1 lb
    CaraPils – 1 lb
    chocolate malt – 4 oz
    Dark DME – 9 lb
    Tettnager 4.5% AA/60 minutes
    Hallertauer 4% AA/30 minutes
    Belgian Ale yeast

Steep the carapils, chocolate malt, flaked rye, and flaked maize in 5 gal. heated to 150° F for 30 min. Remove the grains, bring to a boil, and add the DME. After boiling for 60 minutes, cool and pitch yeast.

OG: 1051 IBU: 26.9 SRM: 27.2

Any thoughts?

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posted by Jeff Holt at 12:18

2 Comments:

Blogger Razor Catch Prey said...

I have been looking into Kentucky Common beers online lately and I think you're missing the critical step of sour mashing.

Nothing I've read has addressed doing this with a partial mash, but I assume you could accomplish it by mashing your specialty grains at 152 for an hour, then letting it sit in a warm (100-120 degree) sealed container for 48 hours before then adding all of that water and grains to your boil like you normally would in a partial mash batch.

From everything I have read, the sourness that imparts is the signature characteristic of a Kentucky Common.

Thanks for posting your recipe.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Jeff Holt said...

You are correct. I found an a Basic Brewing podcast a few years ago, after BYO published a sour mash article, and he walked us through the process. Since I have a short attention span, I never updated this post and I didn't even try the process. I think you might have inspired me to try again.

4:12 PM  

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