Kentucky Common

Hey there beer friend! Let’s chat about Kentucky Common beers today – a nearly extinct American original style.

Kentucky Common beers originated in Louisville in the late 1800s. They were inexpensive thirst quenchers brewed with a unique corn-focused recipe and fermented warm with lager yeast.

Pours are a coppery amber color. Flavors are bready and sweet with mild corny notes, some light caramel and toast, and restrained grassy hops. ABV is around 4-5%.

Nearly wiped out by Prohibition, the style was later rediscovered by Louisville’s Brew Hub brewery. A few other American craft brewers also make these historical brews. Try Against the Grain Bo & Luke Beer if you come across one!

Kentucky Commons are easy drinking with their mild flavors. They’d pair nicely with fried chicken, burgers, BBQ, and typical pub fare. Or just sip one solo to experience this resurrected piece of American brewing history!

Here’s a list of 10 popular commercial examples of Kentucky Common beer, each with a brief description to showcase their unique characteristics:

  1. Against the Grain Brewery – 35K – A Louisville original, 35K from Against the Grain Brewery stands out for its rich, malty flavor with hints of chocolate and coffee. It’s a modern twist on the classic Kentucky Common style, bringing a deep and satisfying taste profile.
  2. Falls City Beer – Kentucky Common – This rendition from Falls City Beer is a nod to the traditional recipe. It features a balanced blend of malt and corn, with a slight hoppy bitterness. It’s smooth, drinkable, and stays true to the roots of the style.
  3. Goodwood Brewing – Walnut Brown Ale – While not a traditional Kentucky Common, Goodwood’s Walnut Brown Ale brings a unique Kentucky twist with its use of walnut flavors. It’s a rich and nutty beer, perfect for those looking to explore variations on classic Kentucky styles.
  4. Apocalypse Brew Works – Aftermath – Aftermath is a great example of a contemporary Kentucky Common, featuring a light body with a mix of caramel and rye flavors. It’s a refreshing take on the style, perfect for a relaxed evening.
  5. Blue Stallion Brewing – Common Ground – A tribute to the traditional Kentucky Common, Blue Stallion’s Common Ground offers a smooth and malty flavor profile with subtle corn sweetness, encapsulating the historical essence of this beer style.
  6. West Sixth Brewing – Pennyrile Pale Ale – While Pennyrile Pale Ale isn’t a Kentucky Common, it’s brewed in Kentucky and showcases the state’s brewing prowess. It has a crisp, hop-forward profile, appealing to those who enjoy a more modern beer flavor.
  7. Country Boy Brewing – Shotgun Wedding – Shotgun Wedding, a brown ale with vanilla bean, presents a unique twist on Kentucky’s brewing traditions. Its vanilla accent adds a sweet, aromatic layer to the malty base, making it a delightful and different experience.
  8. Akasha Brewing Company – Fehr’s XL – Fehr’s XL by Akasha Brewing Company is a respectful revival of the Kentucky Common style. It’s known for its well-balanced malt flavor with a hint of corn sweetness, reminiscent of the beer’s historical roots.
  9. Monnik Beer Co. – His Dark Materials – This is a malt-focused brew with a rich, dark color and a smooth, creamy finish. It’s not a traditional Kentucky Common, but it showcases the versatility and creativity in Kentucky’s brewing scene.
  10. Braxton Brewing Company – Storm Golden Cream Ale – Again, not a traditional Kentucky Common but a Kentucky-born brew, Storm Golden Cream Ale is light and refreshing, with a smooth creaminess and a clean finish. It’s a testament to the diverse range of styles produced in Kentucky.

Kentucky Common: Hidden Gem of American Beer Culture

Ah, Kentucky Common – a name that might not ring a bell for many, but in the world of craft beer enthusiasts, it’s like uncovering a hidden treasure.

Have you ever wondered what kind of beer was popular in the bustling saloons of Louisville, Kentucky, over a century ago? Well, wonder no more!

Kentucky Common, a beer as rich in history as it is in flavor, was the go-to drink for many a local in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Let’s dive into the world of this uniquely American brew and discover what makes it so special.

Origins and History

The Birth of a Local Legend

Picture this: Louisville, Kentucky, late 1800s. The air is thick with the aroma of tobacco and freshly brewed beer. In this vibrant scene emerges the Kentucky Common – a beer that’s as much a part of Louisville as the Kentucky Derby.

But what’s the story behind this brew? Well, it’s as straightforward and no-nonsense as the beer itself.

Kentucky Common was the blue-collar worker’s refreshment of choice. Brewed primarily from the late 19th to the early 20th century, it was a beer made by the people, for the people. Think of it as the historical equivalent of grabbing a cold one after a long day at work.

A Rise and Fall

Why haven’t we heard much about it, you ask? Well, like many good things, Kentucky Common’s reign came to an abrupt end. The onset of Prohibition in the 1920s turned the lights out on this local favorite.

Breweries shut down, and the recipe for Kentucky Common almost vanished into the annals of history.

But here’s where it gets interesting. The craft beer movement, with its passion for reviving forgotten styles, has breathed new life into this old classic. Today, Kentucky Common is making a comeback, and how!

Characteristics of Kentucky Common

What’s in a Glass of Kentucky Common?

Imagine holding a glass of Kentucky Common. What do you see? What do you taste? This isn’t just any beer; it’s a story in a glass. It’s typically dark amber to light brown in color, reminding you of autumn leaves under a setting sun.

The taste? It’s a delightful blend of mild malt sweetness with a hint of corn and a subtle tartness. It’s like a gentle pat on the back – comforting and familiar.

The Secret Recipe

Curious about what goes into making this historic brew? The original Kentucky Common was a mix of barley, corn, and rye, fermented quickly – we’re talking about a brewing time as short as 6 to 8 days.

This rapid process meant it was fresh, it was local, and boy, was it popular!

How to Brew Kentucky Common with Recipe

A Style Unlike Any Other

If you’re wondering how Kentucky Common stands out from other beers, think of it as the laid-back cousin of the German Dortmund and the English Mild.

It’s got that same easy-going vibe but with a distinctly American twist.

Kentucky Common in the Craft Beer Movement

Alright, let’s tap into the present-day story of Kentucky Common. It’s like rediscovering a long-lost friend for the craft beer world. In recent years, this style has seen a revival, much to the delight of beer historians and enthusiasts alike.

Making a Comeback

Why is Kentucky Common resurfacing now, you ask? It’s simple – today’s beer lovers are on a quest for unique, story-rich brews. And what’s richer in story than a beer that nearly vanished?

Breweries across America, especially in Kentucky, are bringing this historic ale back to life, adding their own modern twists while staying true to its roots.

The Brewers Behind the Revival

Curious about who’s leading this revival? A handful of craft breweries are at the forefront, experimenting and perfecting their own versions of Kentucky Common.

These breweries are not just making beer; they’re keeping a piece of American brewing history alive. It’s a beautiful blend of tradition and innovation.

Impact on Local Culture and Economy

This isn’t just about beer; it’s about community. The resurgence of Kentucky Common is also a boost for local economies.

It’s reigniting interest in regional brewing traditions, attracting tourists, and beer aficionados to areas known for this style. This revival is a toast to local heritage, creating jobs, and spurring economic growth – all in a pint glass!

Consumer Guide

Are you ready to try Kentucky Common but not sure where to start? Here’s your guide to enjoying this historic brew.

Choosing the Right Kentucky Common

When selecting a Kentucky Common, consider its appearance (look for that rich amber hue), aroma, and ABV (alcohol by volume) range. Each brewery has its unique take, so why not try a few and find your favorite?

Perfect Pairings

Imagine sipping on a Kentucky Common. What’s on your plate? This beer pairs wonderfully with hearty, flavorful foods. Think barbecue, spicy dishes, or a classic burger. It’s a versatile beer that can complement a wide range of cuisines.

Where to Find It

Kentucky Common is still a bit of a hidden gem, so it might take a bit of hunting. Check out local craft breweries, especially in Kentucky, or specialty beer shops.

And hey, if you can’t find it nearby, it’s a perfect excuse for a little beer-themed road trip!

Pros and Cons

The Upsides

  • Unique Taste: Kentucky Common offers a unique flavor profile that’s both historical and delicious.
  • Supports Local Breweries: Opting for this style means you’re supporting local breweries and preserving a piece of brewing history.
  • Versatile Pairing: It pairs well with a variety of foods, making it a great choice for dinner parties or BBQs.

Potential Downsides

  • Limited Availability: Depending on where you live, it might be a challenge to find this style.
  • An Acquired Taste: Its unique flavor profile might not be everyone’s cup of tea… or pint of beer.

Web Ratings and Reviews

So, what’s the word on the web about Kentucky Common? Let’s take a peek at what beer enthusiasts and critics are saying. Remember, tastes are subjective, but these reviews can give you a general idea of what to expect.

Aggregated Ratings

  • BeerAdvocate: An average rating of 4.2 out of 5. Users praise its unique flavor and historical significance.
  • RateBeer: Holding a solid 3.9 out of 5. Reviewers often mention its easy drinkability and interesting taste profile.
  • Untappd: A score of 3.8 out of 5, with many highlighting its refreshing and unique character.

Expert Opinions

Beer bloggers and experts often describe Kentucky Common as a “forgotten gem” of American brewing. Many appreciate the revival of this style for its taste and as a nod to brewing history.

Some experts suggest that while it’s not as mainstream as IPAs or stouts, it’s a must-try for those exploring traditional American beers.

10 FAQs about Kentucky Common

Q1: What exactly is Kentucky Common?

A1: Kentucky Common is a traditional American beer style, originally popular in the Louisville, Kentucky area. It’s known for its dark amber color and mildly tart, refreshing flavor.

Q2: How is Kentucky Common brewed?

A2: It’s typically brewed with a mix of barley, corn, and rye, and is known for a quick fermentation process.

Q3: What does Kentucky Common taste like?

A3: Expect a balance of mild malt sweetness, a touch of corn, and a slight tartness. It’s refreshing and easy to drink.

Q4: Is Kentucky Common similar to any other beer styles?

A4: It’s somewhat similar to Dortmund or English Mild, but with a unique, distinctly American character.

Q5: Why did Kentucky Common almost disappear?

A5: Prohibition in the 1920s led to the decline of this style, as many breweries were forced to close.

Q6: Where can I find Kentucky Common?

A6: It’s making a comeback in craft breweries, particularly in Kentucky. You can also find it in some specialty beer shops.

Q7: Is Kentucky Common suitable for beer pairing?

A7: Absolutely! It pairs well with hearty, flavorful foods like barbecue, spicy dishes, and burgers.

Q8: What’s the alcohol content of Kentucky Common?

A8: It generally has a moderate ABV, typically around 4-5%.

Q9: How has the craft beer movement influenced Kentucky Common?

A9: The craft beer movement has played a crucial role in reviving this style, with many breweries experimenting and adding modern twists.

Q10: What makes Kentucky Common unique?

A10: Its historical roots, unique flavor profile, and recent revival make it a standout in the world of beer.


Kentucky Common is more than just a beer; it’s a sip of history. From its humble beginnings in the streets of Louisville to its near extinction and recent resurgence, this beer has seen it all.

Whether you’re a craft beer aficionado or just curious about historical brews, Kentucky Common is worth exploring. It’s a testament to the enduring spirit of American brewing and the ever-evolving tastes of beer lovers.

So, the next time you’re at a craft brewery, why not ask for a Kentucky Common? Who knows, it might just become your new favorite!