kentucky common in glass

Common Drive, a Kentucky Common

The Kentucky Common is a historical style showed up on my radar after the release of the 2015 BJCP Guidelines. I am thankful for the research that has been done on historical styles. Especially knowing that there are southern historical styles. Here lately I’ve been naming beers by way of occurrence in everyday life. Common Drive is what we call a network drive at work. Kentucky Common, Common Drive, they share 1 word. Therefore, this is how a name is born in these parts. Now onto the rest of the story.

You need a backstory don’t you?

Remember the C’s of Amber I brewed for our intra-club competition in May? Well, I was fortunate enough to be able to brew in the next round. The style assigned for the next round was Kentucky Common. Oh boy. A style no one in the club has even brewed (that I am aware of). With this batch I bought Epiphany Craft Malts. I’m really enjoying the nuance of the malts that these small maltsters can produce. It’s amazing. To note, when the corn was ordered, it was malted whole corn and a spice grinder was used to mill it. Just imagine how my dull 2 roller mill just reacted when I tried to mill this stuff. Should have grabbed a before pic.

I have only had one commercial example of a Kentucky Common and that is when I visited Ten Mile Brewing in Long Beach California in July 2019. While in Long Beach for a conference, I reached out to a few beer peeops on recommendations on breweries to visit. Ten Mile was on multiple lists. It probably helped that he was a guest on the Experimental Brewing Podcast at one time talking about this Kentucky Common. This experience piqued my interest in the style. Did it intrigue me enough to go brew the style. Unfortunately it did not. This activity forced me to brew the style. It will end up on my rotation again to brew again.

I followed Josh Wiekert’s Make Your Best column for his rendition of a Kentucky Common. I thought a half pound of chocolate rye was a bit steep and would make it more on the brown side instead of being amber, and believe it will make it a touch sweeter than it should be.

Tasting Notes

Aroma: Grainy, cracker, pilsner-like malt aromas, with a slight note of corn sweetness in the background. Caramel notes are moderately low. Low floral notes that appear to be coming from the hops.

Appearance: Brown in color, pours a tan head that appears to retain very well. Has a slight haze.

Flavor: Grainy, cracker, pilsner-like malt like flavors. Moderate caramel and toffee notes that has a background of chocolate into the finish. Finishes medium dry that is balanced to the malt profile. Low bitterness. Hop flavor is fleeting, but is floral when detected.

My Impression: Do I like this beer? YES! Do I want to brew it again. YES! What would I change. I would back off the chocolate rye to maybe 6 ounces, and drop the caramel to 2 ounces, I believe those notes are too dominating the palate. Therefor, I second guessed myself when I was putting together the grain bill for this recipe. Thinking 8 ounces sure was a lot of chocolate rye for such a light bodied beer but these speciality malts are contributing to the body of the beer. I really enjoy the little nuances of the base malts and corn notes.

My Kentucky Common Recipe

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
5.5 gal 60 min 16.6 IBUs 14.9 SRM 1.046 1.009 4.8 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Kentucky Common 27 1.044 - 1.055 1.01 - 1.018 15 - 30 11 - 20 2.5 - 3 4 - 5.5 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Epiphany Foundation Malt 7 lbs 71.79
Ephiphany Corn Malt 2 lbs 20.51
Chocolate Rye (Weyermann) 8 oz 5.13
Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L 4 oz 2.56

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Cluster 1 oz 20 min Boil Pellet 7.4

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 4.50 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Epsom Salt (MgSO4) 2.30 g 60 min Mash Water Agent

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
SafAle German Ale (K-97) DCL/Fermentis 73% 59°F - 75.2°F

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Saccharification 147.9°F 90 min
Mash Out 168°F 10 min

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