Recently I had a local breweries recreation of a Kentucky Common. The only problem was they jazzed it up with additions I doubt were used like apples and perhaps rye. Their result was a quite sour brown ale and IMO it missed the mark. I’m sure some sour beer fans would be all giddy, but having researched and made the long-lost style before I can tell you it wasn’t a beer to pucker your mouth.
So let’s go back to the basics and what we know. Wahl & Henius list two different variants depending upon which edition you check. (This research is from long ago and the links are ones I just located for the books so you may need to dig deep to find the information.)
There have been some other interesting notations about the style over the years. Here is an article by Lisa Grimm and a short Kentucky Beer History page. Here is a web page from Rich O’s with a description. At any rate I doubt the beer was tart sour unless it went off. Also the IBU were much higher than the 7 IBU in the commercial example.
If you would like to make your own Kentucky Common you will need to sour a portion of the grist for a few days, you can do that by adding some raw grain to ~20% of the grist after mashing. Here is a tried and true homebrew recipe you can follow:
-6 lb. Marris Otter (Sour 20%, see below)
-13 oz. American crystal 120L
-3.5 oz. American chocolate
-2 lb. Gelatinized grits (see below)
-158° F for 1 hour, 170° F for 10 min.
-90 minute boil
-0.5 oz. Cluster (6.5% AA, 65 min.)
-0.5 oz. Cluster (6.5% AA, 30 min.)
-0.5 oz. Cluster (6.5% AA, 2 min.)
-OG 1.048, FG 1.016-1.018, IBU 24, SRM 18
-Sour 20% of the Marris Otter for 2 1/2 days. Mash first at 158°F and after 170°F mashout reduce to 90-105°F and add raw grain. Combine sour mash with main mash before sparge.
-Gelatinize grits by boiling for 30 minutes. It will take about 1 gallon water per pound of grits to keep them runny.