Beer of the Week: Sound to Summit’s Top Secret: Kentucky Common

Sound to Summit head brewer Grady Warnock hold up a glass of the brewery’s new top secret beer: a Kentucky Common. (Aaron Swaney / For The Herald)

Top Secret: Kentucky Common

Sound to Summit Brewing, Snohomish

Style: Kentucky common

Stats: 5.1 percent ABV, 17 IBU

Available: On tap at the brewery

My thoughts: Brewed to slake the thirst of farmers, miners and other hard laborers at the turn of the 20th century, Kentucky common is a lost style for modern brewers.

Until now. Brewed under a sign reading “Top Secret” on its brewing board, Sound to Summit is unveiling its version of a Kentucky common on Friday. The beer was made for a quick turnaround and with cheaper ingredients, including corn, with a limited profile of just bittering hops.

The genesis of the idea to unearth an antiquated beer style came from Sound to Summit owner John Sype, who would like to regularly brew historical styles of beer to put on tap. The job of finding a way to brew the beer was up to Sound to Summit head brewer Grady Warnock.

Warnock said it was impossible to find a cohesive recipe for a true Kentucky common, which was born from Kentucky bourbon makers who used ample amounts of corn in their wash, or the finished fermented product of spirits prior to distilling. Instead, he found ingredient lists and general properties to make the beer.

The biggest difference is the amount of corn in the grain bill. Warnock said he saw some recipes call for up to 30 percent corn. (He used 25 percent flaked corn to make the Sound to Summit version.) For comparison, American lagers often use 10 percent corn in their grain bill.

Like its sister beer, the California common, the Kentucky version was made to bypass the lengthy process (up to six weeks) of lagering. The Kentucky common, which was designed to be brewed, kegged and consumed in a week’s time, took Warnock just seven days in total brew time and could have been done in less.

As for its taste, the corn lends a lighter body feel to the beer, which is light without being thin. It has a beautiful amber/orange color with a very light bitter finish. Warnock compared it to a cross between a California common and a brown ale. The beer makes for a great summer sipper.

Sound to Summit brewed seven barrels of the beer, so hurry if you want to taste the type of beer your great-grandpa might have enjoyed.

From the brewery: A historical amber with very light body yet not thin. Caramel flavor approaches the tongue initially with a slight roasted character that doesn’t linger.

More new releases:

Si Senor and CoatTails, At Large Brewing: The Everett brewery recently tapped its own Mexican lager and an extra pale ale brewed in the New England-style of hazy ales. Available on tap at the brewery.

Talus Hopper Tart, Sound to Summit Brewing: Brewed soon after the brewery opened, this tart gose was aged two years in a small fermenter. Only 20 gallons brewed, so hurry before it’s gone. Available on tap at the brewery.

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