If you missed our newsletter earlier this week, here is the piece Brewer Eric Harper wrote about his new Unchained beer, coming out the week of October 22 in bottles and draught!
Ah, the Unchained Series! Finally it’s my turn again to delight you all with a new beer! It seems like just yesterday I was drinking an Unchained #4 thinking, “mmm, that’s good… can’t wait to drink #11!” Wait! That was yesterday! You all stashed some Belgian Golden Ale in your cellars too, right? No worry, on to the next thing!
Our latest effort in the Unchained Series is called “Old 152”. It’s a beer that’s been in the back of my head for some time. Old 152 is based on a beer style called Kentucky Common. It’s a little known American beer that was popular in and around Louisville prior to Prohibition. After Andrew Volstead had his fun, people pretty much forgot about Kentucky Common and moved on to the lagers we are inundated with today. The history books say Kentucky Common consisted of malted barley, corn, and caramel coloring or roasted malt to “give a dark color”. Hops are barely mentioned, as in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, there was pretty much only one variety available in the US…Cluster! That description of a beer is pretty sparse, but for some reason I found it intriguing and could not resist the thought of brewing something that hasn’t been enjoyed in nearly 100 years.
Of course, another beverage Kentucky is famous for is Bourbon (try it, you'll like it). Making bourbon involves a process called “sour mash” and oftentimes Kentucky Common beers are associated with this technique. Maybe that’s just people on the internet being crazy, but this is an Unchained beer, so I said, “Why not try to include these aspects too?” In Old 152, a portion of the mash recipe is based on a bourbon mash: Greater than 51% corn, with the remainder made up of rye, distiller’s malt, and wheat, and then sour the whole mess. Don’t worry, THE BEER WILL NOT BE SOUR!
I’m sure a truly authentic Kentucky Common would be delicious, but I figured no one would object if I increased the ABV and IBUs a little. Old 152 will clock in at 5.8% ABV and 55 IBUs. It pours chestnut brown with a slight haze (think darker than EPA and hazy like Summer Ale). Victory and Rye malts provide notes of biscuit, toast and rye. Simpson’s Crystal Medium contributes subtle sweetness and caramel notes, while maize lightens the body and increases drinkability. The featured hop in this brew is the aforementioned Cluster, which provides a slightly spicy, floral aroma and clean bitterness (not harsh or resiny). For more of that wonderful hop aroma, Old 152 is dry hopped, again with even more Cluster!
Oh, the name? Old 152 is the official steam engine of the state of Kentucky. Why name a beer after an old train? Well, the beer style is old, from Kentucky, and Common beers are sometimes called Steam® beer. Put it all together and you get an antique steam locomotive from the Bluegrass State. Plus my kid loves trains! And so, Old 152 it is!
Hops: Cluster, Northern Brewer (Dry-hopped: Cluster)
Malts: Pale Malt, Victory®, Crystal Medium, Rye Malt, Distillers Malt, White Wheat, Maize
Original Gravity: 14° Plato
Alcohol by volume: 5.8%
Brewer Eric Harper
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