Pennsylvania Common

  • ABV: 5.6%   
  • IBU: 30   
  • SRM: 15

  • A historic California common beer – lager yeast fermented at ale temperatures. Traditionally low ABV, hops and bitterness.
  • This version is designed as an appetizer/dessert/breakfast/nightcap beer
  • with Maple flavoring for a smooth sweet finish.

Recipe Goals:  To create a series of Pennsylvania-based common beers that evoke the traditional California and Kentucky common beers of the past – lager yeast fermented at ale temperatures. Traditionally low ABV, hops and bitterness. This version is designed as a dessert/breakfast beer with Maple flavoring for a smooth sweet finish. The category contains modern American amber and brown warm-fermented beers of standard strength that can be balanced to bitter – this version is a low bitterness despite the 30 IBU rating.

Background:   California and Kentucky common beers were called “common” because they we so easily available. Cheap beers made for blue-collar workers. Commotion is similar to an American Amber Ale its malt flavors are toastier involving only barley & oats in the malt. The Kentucky version is more of a cream ale. The California version is more earthy. In this PA version we are following the Cali style and using use maple to provide an interesting flavor spectrum to balance the earthy-woodsy malt foundation for the consumer. Designed as a breakfast/nightcap beer, or a dessert beer, an appetizer or for special events.


Tasting Notes:   A beer with a firm, grainy maltiness, interesting toasty and caramel flavors, and showcasing rustic, traditional American hop characteristics; woody, earthy. Maple aroma greeting with a moderately malty follow-up and with a low hop bitterness. Finishes with a lingering sweet maple and a firm, grainy malt flavor. Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation. Persistent, lacy foam.


History:   Common beers were just that, common. So, the style is not as well defined and limiting as others. Essentially it implies lager yeast fermented at ale temperatures. California common was brewed originally as Steam Beer in the Gold Rush era. Large shallow open fermenters (coolships) were traditionally used to compensate for the absence of refrigeration and to take advantage of the cool ambient temperatures in the San Francisco Bay area. Fermented with a lager yeast but fermented at warmer temperatures. The Kentucky version is more of a cream ale. Pennsylvania had a version named PA Swankey that featured star anise. We would like to revive this style with this and several new versions in the future.

Ingredients:   US Pale malt (2 & 6 Row), Brown malt, Oats, Caramel 10L, Caramunich malt. Magnum, Cluster hops. Yeast blend of American US-05 and West-European Lager yeast S-23. No adjuncts or late hop adds.

Food Pair:  Roasted meats and Cajun and other spicy dishes. Keep in mind Commotion’s maple, earthy flavor when pairing foods. Foods that go well with amber or brown ales will work just as well. The char of grilled meats will pair well with the maple, caramel and toasty flavors of the beer. Steam beer also goes great with spicy foods like Thai and Mexican, Pork Loin Cheese Pairing Ideas: English-style Cheddars, Feta. Bread Pudding

Vital Statistics:           BJCP Amber & Brown American Ale (19) – California Common (19B)

For Style                      ABV: 3.8 – 5.0%           IBUs: 18 – 28               SRM: 9 – 14

Kemosabe                   ABV: 5.6%                    IBU: 30                         SRM: 15

ABV is Alcohol by Volume. Listed as a percentage volume. Average commercial beer ABV = 4.2%

IBU is International Bitterness Units. Measures bittering chemicals ranges from 0-120, but most beers are from 15-80.

SRM is Standard Reference Method. Measure of color. Scale of 0-40. From yellow, to amber/gold, to brown, to black.


Commercial Examples:    Kona, Wagon Party, Bauhaus Brew Labs, 2x Steam, Southern Tier Brewing Co., Steam Engine Lager, Steamworks Brewing Co., Anchor Brekle’s Brown, Big Sky Moose Drool Brown Ale, Brooklyn Brown Ale, Bell’s Best Brown, Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale, Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale, Telluride Face Down Brown


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