Kentucky Commons

Should Kentucky Commons stay as Traditional Ale - Other or be Sour/Wild - Dark? Or why do we not create a style category for them?

Web indications are that sour isn’t in the true style. Maybe we should split the Commons:

Common - lager

Common - ale

Or maybe we should compress the “Commons”:

Common Beer

Definitely we should remove “steam” from Commons since Anchor has a trademark on “steam”.

That’s not how trademarks work.

Anchor Steam® Beer derives its unusual name from the 19th century when “steam” was a nickname for beer brewed on the West Coast of America under primitive conditions and without ice. While the origin of the name remains shrouded in mystery, it likely relates to the original practice of fermenting the beer on San Francisco’s rooftops in a cool climate. In lieu of ice, the foggy night air naturally cooled the fermenting beer, creating steam off the warm open pans. Once a nickname for any Californian or West Coast beer brewed under these conditions, today the name “steam” is a trademark of Anchor Brewing and applies only to the singular process and taste of our flagship brand -

Yeah, my comment was as much directed at Anchor and the USPTO (who pay bonuses to their staff depending not on how many applications are processed, but how many are granted - if that’ isn’t proof of a skewed corrupt system, I don’t know what is), if they managed to trademark a generic term in prior use, such as “steam”. “Anchor Steam Beer”, I can grant them as trademarkable, but not just “Steam”. C.f. “Microsoft Windows” and “Windows”.

Oh - you do realise the passage you quoted is fairy-stories straight out of the butt of a marketting company, don’t you?

I don’t see Anchor claiming a trademark issue on steam cleaning, etc. Just on “steam beer”.

They claim the name existed long, long ago (tho current usage has a trademark symbol attached to steam). And apparently tho the brewery “temporarily” shut down 3 or 4 times, it was back again when Maytag gained control.

The article indicates continuity of corporation, and Anchor Steam being the only steam beer surviving into the mid 20th century. It also indicates that modern AS is not using the original recipe or open tank process. Yet ownership of a label generally means usage belongs to the owner. So it probably wasn’t much of a stretch to get a trademark for a label item that had existed for nearly a hundred years.

I would say keep them in Traditional Ales. As for a separate style, I would say probably not. There are 109 on the site at the present but it’s still a pretty regional style.
Definitely shouldn’t group them with California Commons since Kentucky Commons are ales. Also the main thing that makes a Kentucky Common is the use of sour mash, not fermenting temperature.

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Don’t believe I’ve ever had one at least nothing tagged here. I’ll have to try and acquire


" Brewing A Beer Style You’ve Never Tasted - Kentucky Common - Homebrew Academy
The new BJCP guidelines provided a quick historical review of the Kentucky Common. It dispels the notion that the beer was brewed with a sour mash. It does describe the beer as a quick, inexpensive beer. And 6 to 8 days from mash to kegging? Damn that’s quick."

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Modern interpretations are often sour mashed to imitate what the style likely tasted like at the time. My understanding is that lacto was probably unintentionally introduced in the original beers in that style, and that the modern sour mash process is the best way to reproduce this.


Well, if KC is just another name for a modern sour mash, should it get a separate category, or should we come up with a sour mash category? And if Anchor Steam is no longer brewed the original way, should we remove steam from * California Common / Steam Beer?

That’s interesting. I just assumed they had to use a sour mash given the number of times breweries mentioned it and that they just brewed the beer in the same manner that they made bourbon. I’ve have a couple of KCs that probably didn’t use sour mash (but didn’t think to ask - I will from now on) so having a sour mash category would probably not be 100% accurate either (and does anybody brew a beer using sour mash that is NOT a Kentucky Common?). Could make the argument that they could be put in with the Cream Ales as well (several brewers here do call them as dark cream ales).
On a purely selfish note, I would like to see them as a separate style to give me and other locals a trade-able beer.

I’ve seen breweries in Minnesota and Wisconsin have a stab at them so there are examples beyond the Ohio River valley. I’d argue for making it a unique style if regional styles like Sahti, Gruit, and Kvass have their own entries.

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