Friday, April 01, 2016

The Six Session Beers of Session Beer Day, 2016 (Ch. 1): Falls City Kentucky Common.

1st of 6 previews.

Thursday, April 7 is Session Beer Day 2016 ... and since it's one of my favorite holidays of the year, I'll be celebrating it.

Join me on a Session Beer Day Brewery Crawl on Thursday, April 7.

On April 7, I'll start before lunch (circa 11:00 a.m.) and traverse downtown Louisville on foot, walking from brewery to brewery and having a session beer at each. Most usually have at least one 4.5% choice on draft. The brewery list, traveling roughly west to east, would be: Falls City (Over the 9), Gordon Biersch, BBC 3rd Street, Against the Grain, Goodwood and Akasha.

For all intents and purposes, session beer consciousness as we know it today originates with Lew Bryson's Session Beer Project.

For our purposes, 'session beer' is defined as a beer that is:

  • 4.5% alcohol by volume or less
  • flavorful enough to be interesting
  • balanced enough for multiple pints
  • conducive to conversation
  • reasonably priced

Within the past month, Kentucky Common has been added to the Falls City brewery's flagship roster. The brewery shares space on S. 10th Street with Old 502 Winery and Over the 9, a gastropub serving house beer and wines as well as a full roster of spirits.

Last year's revised BJCP guidelines include Kentucky Common as an historical beer, with perhaps the clearest description yet offered of a style that remains nebulous in the minds of many -- including me. For a very long time, I wanted to make a "sour mash" connection, but the evidence simply does not support it.

Modern characterizations of the style often mention a lactic sourness or sour mashing, but extensive brewing records from the larger breweries at the turn of the century have no indication of long acid rests, sour mashing, or extensive conditioning. This is likely a modern homebrewer invention, based on the supposition that since indigenous Bourbon distillers used a sour mash, beer brewers must also have used this process. No contemporaneous records indicate sour mashing or that the beer had a sour profile; rather the opposite, that the beer was brewed as an inexpensive, present-use ale.

Following is Falls City's own description.

Falls City Kentucky Common

What happens when bourbon lovers brew beer

The Kentucky Common is a style of beer that started in Louisville. At one point, more than 75 percent of Louisvillians drank Common before the style disappeared during Prohibition. Today we craft this rich, easy-drinking ale with corn, barley and rye -- just the way it used to be made.

STYLE: Pre-Prohibition Ale
HOPS: Crystal, Perle
ABV: 4.0%
IBU: 20
AROMA: Complex, malty, unique

It's the perfect choice to kick off this inaugural session brewery crawl -- historic, local and tasty.


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