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Kentucky Common Ale

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 02 June 2016 at 23:04
NOTE - The recipe in this opening post has undergone various modifications as it has evolved. If you would like to try this recipe, please scroll down to the latest version. Sooner or later, there will be a "final version," which will be noted as such.

Ron


A truly home-grown variety, this beer was intensely popular in Kentucky from the post-Civil-War period until Prohibition. Based on that little there is available (sources below), and extrapolating from the known to the vague, I've developed what I think is a reasonably-plausible adaptation.

This 1-gallon adaptation bypasses the corn-grit cereal mash with flaked corn and employs a 60-minute boil, rather than 120 minutes. The caramel malt that I chose was due to its middle-of-the-road quality, while the hops and yeast seem to be the best compromise between what was described and what is available. Northern Brewer is probably not exactly the right bittering hop, but it seems to be the closest that I can find to "California Gray." I chose Hallertau rather than Saaz as an aroma hop because I believe that the Germans who were doing the brewing would have used this Bavarian variety.

Based on the statistics, this adaptation seems to fit the BJCP guidelines fairly well; not perfectly, by any means, but to the point where the average home-brewer in 2016 can give it a go.

Quote This recipe has been superseded by another; scroll down for new version

Kentucky Common Ale
TasunkaWitko's Adaptation

1 Gallon, All-Grain

ABV - 5.07%
IBUs - 27.21

Grain percentages:

60% 6-Row Pale Malt
37% Corn Grits
1.75% Black Malt
1.25% Caramel Malt

Based on 10-gallon adaptation, 1 gallon contains 1.825 pounds total grains = 29.2 ounces

Available information converted to 1 gallon:

17.52 ounces = 1.095 pounds 6-Row Pale Malt
10.8 ounces = 0.675 pounds Flaked Corn
0.5 ounces = 0.031 pounds Black Malt
0.4 ounces = 0.025 pounds Caramel/Crystal 60L Malt


Mash - 156 to 158 degrees

60-minute boil

Hops:

Northern Brewer - 1.4 grams = 0.05 ounces @ 60 minutes
Northern Brewer - 2.8 grams = 0.1 ounces @ 45 minutes
Cluster - 2.1 grams = 0.075 ounces @ 15 minutes
Hallertau - 1.4 grams = 0.05 ounces @ Flameout

Irish Moss - 2.5 grams = 0.09 ounces = 1/2 teaspoon @ 15 minutes

Yeast - Safale US-05 - 1/2 package = 5.75g


Ferment for 3 to 4 days, then bottle.


Sources:

http://www.bjcp.org/docs/NHC2014-kycommon-handout.pdf
http://bjcp.org/docs/2015_Guidelines_Beer.pdf - pg 55
http://www.seriouseats.com/2014/05/different-types-of-hops-what-hops-taste-like-saaz-fuggle-cascade-citra-beer-flavors.html
http://brooklynbrewshop.com/themash/hop-of-the-month-northern-brewer/

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 June 2016 at 09:48
When I get home from work this evening, I'll have a couple of slight modifications to the original post, as well as a few additional notes on this. If someone is really intent on brewing this before then, go for it, but consider keeping the mash temperatures in the 152-ish range. If it goes a little above - up to 158 - no big deal...just be careful not to go any higher ~
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gonefishin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 June 2016 at 10:33
   Interesting recipe Tas.  Do you do all the 1gallon conversions by hand?  Brewgr has a nice recipe program where you can save recipes and scale them up or down as you please.  It also calculates abv, ibu, etc, etc.  3 to 4 days is an awful fast ferment time, I'd be willing to bet you meant to write 3 to 4 weeks.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 June 2016 at 17:08
Hi, Dan, and thanks for the feedback. Yep, the batches I do are all by hand. I have an app called Brewer's Friend, which sounds pretty similar. I basically use it to make sure that I'm "on the right track" with any ideas I have, and of course to estimate ABV, IBUs etc.

Regarding the fermentation issue you mention, that's part of the notes that I mentioned in the above post:

Following a discussion on another forum, I am tossing in these notes as part of the "record" -

It was suggested that I employ lower mash temperatures, which does make sense for most beers that I brew. The temperatures that I used for this adaptation were just a guess based on the sources I had. Slightly-higher mash temperatures generally result in a more fuller-bodied beer that usually suits darker beers such as porters and stouts, but there is always a risk of going too high, especially for the typical home-/stovetop-brewer. One thing that I tried to keep in mind is that tastes back then are were almost certainly different than taste preferences now. I have no way of proving it, but I am sure that in those days before Budweiser, Coors, Miller etc., I am certain that a more full-bodied, robust beer would have been the norm, especially for working men at the end of the day. With that in mind, I'll probably look to keep the mash temperatures between 150 and 154. I will modify my opening post to reflect this.

As for fermentation, I really probably should give it the full 10-to 14-ish days of fermentation, at a minimum; the sources cite that this beer was allowed 3 days before kegging, but that was in barrels with bungs, not bottles. Between my reading of the articles and the recent reading I've been doing on Edelweiss beer (which relies on a 3-day fermentation, followed by bottling with no priming sugars), I just sort of went along with the 3- to 4-day concept. Having said that, going with the more "normal" schedule and using priming sugar (honey or possibly maple syrup) would not significantly change the beer, and might possibly avoid some pitfalls. I will modify my opening post to remove the suggestion of the short fermentation.

On that note, I did not put the OG and FG in my "recipe" above, mainly because I simply don't use them in my brewing. I will modify my original post in order to provide those statistics.

As for hops that I settled on, I was and still amusing some "best educated guesses," so I am certainly open to suggestions. The sources I had definitely mention a noble hop at the end for aroma, but for the bittering hops, it is pretty vague. The only clue I have is something described as "Western Hops (probably California Gray or a variant)" used for bittering with "New York Hops (almost assuredly Cluster)" in the middle for flavor, with an "imported" noble hop at "knockout" for aroma. Further, it seems that there were often substitutions due to availability, as well. I'm reasonably confident about the Cluster and Hallertau usage, but the Northern Brewer was just a guess, following my reading of a few articles dealing with Western/California-style brewing. If I could find something that points to a definite available example of "Western" or "California Gray" hops, that would be awesome.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gonefishin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 June 2016 at 08:40
Sounds like they may have transferred it to a firkin, for continued cask fermentation. I wouldn't consider going right in the bottle at this point. I do love cask conditioned beer. Keeping track of gravity readings may prove useful in the future, even if you aren't using them now. Take for instance the Og on a mash at 152 or 158...this will give you two different results in abv and body. But having Og/fg you can reference back your current tasting notes (maybe 6 months after brewing) to your brewing notes...then apply it on future brews
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 June 2016 at 23:29
Quote Sounds like they may have transferred it to a firkin, for continued cask fermentation. I wouldn't consider going right in the bottle at this point.


Yep - I've come to the same conclusion. I'll go ahead and follow my usual procedure, waiting until fermentation is finished, then priming and bottling.

I also agree about the gravity readings. What I really need is to find an easy, no-fuss way to take these readings in a way that won't "waste" the wort (or must, if making wine). When you only have a gallon at hand, it's hard to imagine sacrificing any! I had originally bought a turkey baster to use, but this was proving to be a real mess. Perhaps, I'll simply use a funnel and a ladle, sanitise everything that the wort will touch, and use that. Those readings are important, and would be good to have, for the record and for consistency.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gonefishin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 June 2016 at 16:04
Originally posted by TasunkaWitko TasunkaWitko wrote:


I also agree about the gravity readings. What I really need is to find an easy, no-fuss way to take these readings in a way that won't "waste" the wort (or must, if making wine). When you only have a gallon at hand, it's hard to imagine sacrificing any! I had originally bought a turkey baster to use, but this was proving to be a real mess. Perhaps, I'll simply use a funnel and a ladle, sanitise everything that the wort will touch, and use that. Those readings are important, and would be good to have, for the record and for consistency.

   Hmmm...I could see your problem.  Have you looked into a wine/beer thief?  You can put the hydrometer right into the thief, but it would use more liquid than the normal hydrometer test jar.  The thief has a one way valve in the bottom, so you literally just lower it in, pull it straight out. 

   For OG reading we use a refractometer, but they aren't accurate once there's alcohol in there without a conversion chart.  But initial sugar reading it works great, accurate, fast...and only takes a drop.  We'll pull not only OG readings but also gravity of the sparge.  Pulling too low allows for bad tannins and off flavors...so we watch for that. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 March 2017 at 12:08
After some tiny little tweaks, I am ordering the ingredients today so that I can brew this in the near future.

Here is my latest recipe for this attempt, which does match the reading I've done whilst also conforming to the 2015 BCJP Guidelines:

Quote This recipe has been superseded by another; scroll down for new version

Kentucky Common Ale
TasunkaWitko's Adaptation

All-Grain
1 Gallon


OG - 1.051
FG - 1.010
ABV - 5.44%
IBUs - 21.74
SRM - 11.58


Fermentables:

19.22 ounces American 6-Row Pale Malt (60%)
11.84 ounces American Flaked Corn (37%)
0.5 ounces American Black Malt (1.6%)
0.45 ounces American Caramel/Crystal 60L Malt (1.4%)


60-Minute Mash @ 154 degrees

60-minute boil


Hops:

1.7 grams Cluster (7% AA) @ 60 minutes
1.7 grams Cluster (7% AA) @ 45 minutes
3.4 grams Cluster (7% AA) @ 15 minutes
2 grams Hallertau Mittelfrüh (3.75% AA) @ Knock-out

Other Ingredients:

Irish Moss - 0.4 grams @ 15 minutes


Yeast

Safale US-05


With luck, I'll brew this sometime in mid-April or early May.

More as it happens, etc. &c....

Ron
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 March 2017 at 08:31
I placed my order for the ingredients to brew this beer on Friday - I am expecting to brew this sometime during the week of 19-25 March...maybe early April.

Now, time to choose an image for the label!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 September 2017 at 23:10
Well, better late than never; I checked my ingredients that I have left after #2 son has been brewing all summer, and found that I should have everything I need to brew this one. With that in mind, it is on deck to be brewed tomorrow evening, if all goes well.

If there are any last-minute tweaks to the recipe, I will post them; however, I believe the recipe a couple of posts above this one is the way to go, based on my reading and research. My goal is to get as reasonably close as possible to a true, historic Kentucky Common Ale, scaled down to a 1-gallon, all-grain, non-complicated stovetop system.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 September 2017 at 08:27
I took a look at the final rendition, and the only change is a slight rise in IBUs due to the actual versus estimated) AA% of my hops. The higher number is probably more "true" to the original, so I am leaving everything as-is, and ready to brew.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 September 2017 at 15:13
One note: After re-reading the source material for this beer, and noting the emphasis on the fact that it is a malt-forward beer, I backed off on the hops just a bit, in order to bring the IBU's down to 24.08.

With that, I think I am finished, until I have an opportunity to try the finished product.

Here is the label that I put together for this beer:

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 September 2017 at 09:41
I brewed this last night, and I think it's going to be a good one ~

The brew went off with no significant hitches that I can recall; my #2 son, Mike gave me a hand, and we had a pretty good time, I think. He's an IPA guy, so he was pretty amused by my modest use of hops, but it's all good. He showed me a couple of things that he does when he's brewing, and they looked like pretty good tips to me, so I will be using them in the future.

Mash - I was able to keep the temperatures fairly close to where I wanted them - and it smelled great! The flaked corn added a nice touch, I think.

Sparge - No sticking issues, no spills - everything went fine.

Boil - I went with the slightly-modified hop schedule (below) for lower IBUs as the maltiness (bordering on sweetness) was mentioned prominently in the research; everything went fine and on schedule. The Cluster hops smelled really good with this, and the Hallertau Mittelfrüh added a nice touch, as well. I was actually tempted to add a little more hops at all stages, but for this first one, I left things alone.

Chill-down - once again, no hitches. I have never used Irish moss before, but I definitely plan to use it more often, after this experience; it really pulls the crud down, it seems.

Transfer to fermenter and pitching the yeast - no troubles at all; I only had to top off with a very small amount of water - I'd say less than a quarter-cup.

The only irregularity of note was that the wort/beer was slightly darker than expected, in spite of the very, very small amount of black malt and C60. Where these dark malts are concerned, it doesn't take much! The darker colour could also have something to do with my water; I've noticed that all my brews, no matter what style and no matter what conditions, are always just a bit darker than I expect them to be. No big deal, as they all taste great.

I checked in on my beer this morning, and the S05 is definitely doing it's thing; slow and steady, which matches my experience with it so far. There is a nice cap of krausen developing, and I am sure that by the time I get home from work, it will be churning up for a good, solid fermentation and the blow-off tube will be getting busy. The ambient temperatures are just a few degrees higher than I would prefer, but we still seem to be well within the tolerance of this yeast. The next few days will be cooler, and this will help. Considering that we have been consistently above 90 since the end of June and are finally seeing some relief, I am not going to complain.

Here is the final recipe that was actually brewed; if anyone is following my brain-storming, ADD-infested, rambling development, please disregard all others, for now:

Quote Kentucky Common Ale
TasunkaWitko's Adaptation

All-Grain
1 Gallon
OG - 1.051
FG - 1.010
ABV - 5.44%
IBUs - 24.08
SRM - 11.58

Fermentables:

19.22 ounces American 6-Row Pale Malt (60%)
11.84 ounces American Flaked Corn (37%)
0.5 ounces American Black Malt (1.6%)
0.45 ounces American Caramel/Crystal 60L Malt (1.4%)


60-Minute Mash @ 154 degrees


60-minute boil

Hops:

1.5 grams Cluster (7.6% AA) @ 60 minutes
1.5 grams Cluster (7.6% AA) @ 45 minutes
3.0 grams Cluster (7.6% AA) @ 15 minutes
1.5 grams Hallertau Mittelfrüh (3.75%) @ Knock-out

Other Ingredients:

Irish Moss - 0.4 grams @ 15 minutes

Yeast

Safale US-05


That's what I have for now; I will post more as it happens, etc. &c....

Ron
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 September 2017 at 10:58
Out of curiosity, I did some Googling and looked at some photos; based on what I found, I think that my colour for this beer (which I originally thought was too dark) might be pretty close, after all. I found a few that were a little lighter, and a few that were a little darker; I also found quite a few that were nearly identical.

While it might still be a little darker than it "should" be, it evidently isn't out of the ordinary....

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 September 2017 at 12:45
Doing a little more research, I found an old advertisement for this beer, from a Louisville brewery:



If you look at this and the advertisement above (which is somewhat cut off), it is plain to see that "back in the day," this beer was referred to as a cream ale.

Based on that, I modified my label a bit:

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 September 2017 at 11:58
I checked on my beer when I got home from work last yesterday; ambient temperatures were still just a hair higher than I would prefer, but were within stated tolerances and moving down to something more reasonable. My experience tells me that 65-ish seems to be just about right, and I am guessing we will be there, soon. Usually, my problem is the opposite, and I am trying to bring temperatures up.

Anyway, fermentation still seemed to be starting slowly, but this seems to be the norm, considering the other couple of times that I have used S-05 yeast. Sure enough, when I checked on it this morning, the beer had that churned up, cloudy look that comes with full-blown fermentation, and the blow-off tube was happily blip-blip-blipping away.

Tonight or tomorrow, I will replace the blow-off tube with an air-lock, and we will let it ride for a while, until it is time to cold-crash and bottle.

If anything comes up in the interim, I will post about it.

Ron
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 September 2017 at 16:21
Originally posted by Dan Dan wrote:

Have you looked into a wine/beer thief? You can put the hydrometer right into the thief, but it would use more liquid than the normal hydrometer test jar. The thief has a one way valve in the bottom, so you literally just lower it in, pull it straight out.


It took a while, but I actually ordered one today - thanks for the tip on this!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gonefishin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 September 2017 at 22:30
   sounds like another good one!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 September 2017 at 08:14
I am hoping so, Dan - so far, it seems to be going really well.

I checked on my beer again last evening and this morning; I am happy to report that all is well. My ambient temperatures are sitting right at 65 degrees, which is where I want them, and fermentation is in definite full swing. I switched out the blow-off tube for an air-lock, and plan to leave the beer alone to do its thing until it is time to bottle.

More as it happens, etc. &c....

Ron
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 September 2017 at 14:42
I've been refining some notes on this subject, and am posting them here, so I have everything in one place. Some of it is duplicate information to what is above, but no matter.....

Here are the links to the research I found:

http://www.bjcp.org/docs/NHC2014-kycommon-handout.pdf

http://bjcp.org/docs/2015_Guidelines_Beer.pdf - pg 55

A lot of the other stuff that can be Googled seems to be pretty worthless, as far as reliable historical research goes. Most of it is either for marketing commercial "revivals" of this beer, or from homebrewers who did not take the time to read the research carefully. For instance, some used rye, even though it was never used, and others employed a sour mash, even though the overwhelming research supports that this was not intended to be a sour mash beer. For these and other reasons, I mostly stuck to the article above, which led directly to the BJCP guidelines that are also cited above.

I struggled quite a bit with the "Western" or California Gray" hops mentioned in the article for bittering. I found a couple that are descended from California Gray, but was unsure as to whether they would actually be similar or not. In the end, I simply went with Cluster Hops for bittering, which seem to be the most commonly-used bittering hop by people who recreate this beer; also, Cluster hops are already used for aroma, making it a convenient choice. I chose Hallertau Mittelfrüh as the German aroma hop rather than Saaz because I believe that the Germans who were doing the brewing in Louisville would certainly have known of and used this Bavarian variety.

I brewed this last week and it's still fermenting, so I am not (yet) sure how it is going to turn out. It seems to be darker in colour than I expected (possibly because of my water), but smells and looks great, so far. The IBUs might need to be bumped up to around 27; but then again, the research specifically mentioned that the bitterness is low, and the beer is malt-forward and almost sweet.

The Irish moss may not really be necessary to the beer or the recipe, especially since it was historically served much "younger" than anyone nowadays would be tasting it, and the beer would probably clear on its own just fine - but still, it certainly can't hurt.
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