Once Upon a Time – KK

Beer Style: KK
Hop Variety: Kent Goldings, Bramling Cross
Malt Variety: Pale Malt
ABV: 7.8%
IBUs: 100
Color: Black

On November 15th, 1901, a brewer at Whitbread’s Brewery in London made a KK beer: black, dry, hoppy, but with no roasted malts. Another crazy, confusing beer from the past that was ripe for recreation in the 21st century. For this second installment in our “Once Upon a Time” historical beer series we once again teamed up with historian Ron Pattinson of Amsterdam to recreate a beer from Britain’s past.

Just to remind you of the project: This is not one of our creative beer projects, but a straight re-brewing of a beer from a specific day in history. Ron provides and translates an original handwritten brewsheet. Unlike recipes, brewsheets record exactly what the brewer did on the day. Using this document avoids any unwarranted creativity on our part (or any wishful thinking on the part of the original brewery) – and we follow this document religiously. A point that we state perhaps all too joyfully is that we’re happy to recreate a crappy beer from the past as long as it is true to the original document. Thankfully, the beers we’ve made so far have all been crazy interesting and crazy good!

The other thing about Once Upon A Time is that they’re real beers that were brewed in their true context. So there’s no need to discuss what style they are – They were classified hundreds of years ago! We have to take the original brewer’s word for it. So this is a KK beer. That’s all there is to it. If you call the KK a black IPA, fair enough: but please realize that you are applying modern, internet-age beer classification to a beer that never required or requested it. KK beers were brewed by several breweries and the style existed well into the 20th Century.

Ron describes the November 15th, 1901 KK as a “Burton Ale” that was meant for aging in vats at the brewery. In his book entitled “1909!” Ron says “when maturation went out of fashion, K Ales just became Strong Ales, that may or may not have had a lengthy secondary conditioning.”

Our KK boasts a black colour, cocoa-coloured head, and satisfying dryness with a substantial bitterness. Most of the colour of this beer comes from sugar, which is surprising and not something you see often these days – almost never here in the states.

We hope you enjoy the KK!