Common Sense
Upstate Brewing Company

Common SenseCommon Sense
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Red Ale - American Amber / Red
Ranked #963
Ranked #45,230
3.48 | pDev: 12.64%
Upstate Brewing Company
New York, United States
Common SenseCommon Sense
Notes: This beer is a revival of a beer style that was one of the most popular beers in America prior to prohibition: Kentucky Common Ale. It has a dark color with a rich flavorful taste and a decent hint of hops (22 IBU), but it is light and easy drinking.

Many people today mistakenly think that this style is supposed to have a sour taste, but our research led us to the over 100 year old "American Handy Book of the Brewing, Malting & Auxiliary Trades" (see page 818) which makes no mention of it having a sour quality or using a sour mash to brew it.

Instead, it was just a dark yet refreshing beer that the working class people of the time loved to drink very fresh, which was around 2 weeks after being brewed. We also serve up Common Sense 14 days after brewing it. It is a great resurrected beer for all modern beer lovers!
Reviews: 23 | Ratings: 104 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of tone77
tone77 from Pennsylvania

3.51/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 16 oz. can. Has a dark amber color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is of caramel malts. Taste is well balanced malts and hops, a light woodiness, smooth and easy drinking. Feels medium/light bodied in the mouth and overall is a pretty good beer.

Jan 02, 2017
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dgmirelli from New York

3.74/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

in a pilsner glass out of a can, look was deep brown not quite opaque, poured little head and not much lacing, smell was of malt and caramel, taste mid strength light on carbonation a caramel presence and little alcohol, feel again was smoother and mid grade, overall not bad would drink again.

Nov 17, 2015
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DavoleBomb from Pennsylvania

2.24/5  rDev -35.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Poured into a pint glass.

3.0 A: Clear light amber color. One finger of fizzy beige head that falls quickly and leaves no lacing.

2.75 S: Lots of toastiness with nearly as much metallic aroma. Mild earthy hoppiness and caramel. Perhaps a touch grainy as well. The nose is somewhat weak and what is there isn't all that great.

2.0 T: The taste is exponentially more metallic than the nose. Moderate bitterness with plenty of toastiness and mild caramel. This is very superficial and unbalanced. It's overly bitter, dry, and metallic without any balancing malty sweetness.

2.0 M: Light body and super watery. Carbonation is on the lighter side, but within the range of acceptable. Lacking all creaminess.

2.0 D: Piss poor beer. Totally unbalanced. I can see why no one else is brewing a "Kentucky Common Ale."

Nov 16, 2015
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tigg924 from Massachusetts

3.72/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours clear, light brown with 1/3 inch head. Taste is grain, toasted malt, toasted white bread, and slight earthy hops. Sweet with a touch of bitterness. Very clean, sessionable ale. Not the most complex brew, but very tasty. I will look for this one again.

Nov 15, 2015
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JerzDevl2000 from New Jersey

3.52/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up recently at Top Hops in New York, having never had this before nor seeing anything from Upstate available locally. I loved the design of the can and the idea behind this beer and while this was a bit thinner than I would have liked, it was still flavorful enough to enjoy from start to finish while standing out from other examples of this style that I've had before.

Decent pour to this as the beer had a bright nut brown hue and and frothy head to it, which left behind a few rings of lacing along the top third of my pint glass. Lots of caramel in the nose which was reinforced by a herbal undertone and strong hints of bread. Felt a bit like tea and as indicated by the IBU, hardly any hops could be discerned here. Somewhat grainy in the aftertaste, this reminded me of one of the Yards beers and this even felt like a more aggressive take on Yuengling. This just had a bit more body and a lot more nuance to it as the leafy tobacco notes and blood orange bitterness raised this above the ordinary.

Not too strong on here alcohol here but there was enough to be had without detracting from the beer at all. Not as hoppy as other examples of this style and this reminded me of a Vienna Lager more than anything else. With a light body and clean finish, this went down easily and smoothly while never feeling weak. Nothing out there is quite like this and for a near-session beer, this would be a wonderful choice to crack open and pound down!

Oct 15, 2015
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scootny from New York

3.69/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A lovely white head and a lot of retention and decent lace. Moderate carbonation and a very clear dark garnet amber color. Nose is malty with some sourdough yeastiness. Light floral bitterness. An almost lager like bitterness atop an ale malt and test bill. Fruity and bready with a light sweetness. Tight dry finish with a light pucker. Smooth and easy feel that has a tingly carbonation and crispness. A solid craft beer that lends itself to session drinking.

Aug 25, 2015
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SLeffler27 from New York

3.74/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Fills a Cisco fisheye pint glass with clear deep copper beer (SRM 16-17). A short off-white rocky head leaves little lace.

The aroma is dominated by caramel, with a slightly metallic and soapy background. Bread dough and a hint of cocoa powder are also discernible.

The flavor follows the nose while fairly sweet with light bitterness. Bitterness lingers throughout a long finish. Crisp and clean with toasted malt and faint sourness. However the sourness was only noticed in two of the cans I sampled. This one is best at temperature and becomes undrinkable with warmth.
The body is light with no alcohol and a satin texture. Slightly metallic with light carbonation.
Common Sense seems to be fairly close to what I was able to research about the style of a Kentucky Common. I could easily see this as a lawnmower beer or suitable for a tailgate party. Common Sense is an enjoyable beer but it lacks any real depth of interest.

Aug 23, 2015
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RblWthACoz from Pennsylvania

3.54/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

I don't get this beer. The clarity is really superb, but it tastes like an amber ale and something really boring and middle of the road mixed together.

Jun 06, 2015
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guidom2 from Virginia

3.44/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Look: Clear brown with hints of amber in the light. No head, very little lacing
Smell: Faint malt notes
Taste: Initial sweet malt with slight hops throughout, cascade notes. Fairly well balanced with earthy finish. Lingering bitter.
Feel: Overall smooth, slightly creamy with very low carbonation.
Overall: Easy drinking with pub food.

Apr 12, 2015
Photo of auswild
auswild from New York

4.14/5  rDev +19%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Incredibly drinkable. Crafty and complex just enough for the connoisseur yet the flavor is not overpowering to scare away the average Joe. It's simple and good.

Mar 21, 2015
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BeerAdvocate from Massachusetts

3.75/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From BeerAdvocate Magazine #83 (Dec 2013):

A resurrected style from a pre-prohibition era around the Louisville, KY area. Great choice packaging this beer in 16oz pounder cans as it is super drinkable, just enough flavor and a pinch of complexity too boot. Offer this one up to a novice beer drinking friend with the story behind the beer and they’ll probably want more.

STYLE: Kentucky Common Ale
ABV: 5.3%

LOOK: Dark copper hue, healthy looking lace

SMELL: Spice, faint tartness, dried grass, toasted bread crust, herbal hop, orange zest

TASTE: Deep smoothness, dry graininess, crisp, mild twang, lasting breadiness, light hopping, leafy, herbal, dried hay, faint broth, clean, dry and grainy finish

Mar 02, 2015
Photo of pgrose
pgrose from New York

4/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Served on tap in Nichols, NY
L: Clear dark brown, slight amber. Minimal lacing and no head.
S: Slight malt presence
T: Malt forward finishing in bitter hops, reminiscent of a brown ale.
F: Light carbonation.
O: A strong bodied yet potentially sessionable beer.

Jan 23, 2015
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GreesyFizeek from New York

3.5/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Bar Louie in Greece, NY.

Pours a darker clear amber, with a half inch head, and a little bit of lacing.

Smells like toasted malts, but not strongly. That's about it.

This is a bare-bones, basically unexciting amber ale. There's some slight hop bitterness, with stronger flavors of toasty bready malts. Nothing to get too excited about.

This one is medium bodied, with a higher amount of carbonation, and a crisp doughy mouthfeel.

Second beer from these guys, not as good as the IPW I had from them.

Oct 25, 2014
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CTHomer from Connecticut

3.03/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: crystal clear; amber colored; less than a 1 finger slightly off white head that receded slowly to an uneven cap; no lacing;

S: caramel malt; toasted grains; a little metallic; no hop presence;

T: caramel through mid-palate; slightly bitter, earthy finish; no hop flavor, except for perhaps Columbus in the earthy finish;

M: a little thin; slightly prickly carbonation;

O: couldn't find either the cascade or Willamette hops; nonetheless, this was an easy drinking fairly neutral beer;

Oct 19, 2014
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StonedTrippin from Colorado

3.62/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

i havent known the common style to be a red beer, never really occurred to me that it could be one, its always blonde and fuller bodied, never amber hued like this one is. nice clarity and a pretty frothy cream colored head on it. the nose shows balance, minimal grassy hops up front with a long toffee malt thing that isnt half as sweet in taste as it smells like it would be. the taste is nice, dry for a red beer, with probably an interesting mash bill on it. big enough bodied like it may have oats in it, sweet like corn even, heck, probably some wheat fluffing up the feel too, but i cant confirm any of this. i wish for more bubbles, its a little flat, but the body i like and the flavor i like a lot. its a cool beer, appealing to a wide audience but based in tradition. i also always appreciate a dry amber beer, which this definitely is in the finish despite a medium sweet middle to it. overall something i quite enjoy. i was impressed with both upstate beers i had. this is far better than its ratings.

Oct 16, 2014
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CHickman from New York

3.5/5  rDev +0.6%

Drank from the can, no clue what it looks like. Nice history behind this beer listed on the can: "Based on a style of beer that was popular before Prohibition in the Louisville, KY area. After Prohibition, many small regional breweries never returned, and the style died out. We read about Kentucky-Style Common Ale in an old book on American brewing. Now we're bringing it back." Ballsy mission statement, I like it.

Tastes of caramel, floral hops, wheat bread, malt, light hoppy spices like pepper and coriander, and a touch of earthy sweetness like roasted grains dipped into wine. There is no booze flavor, but the wet grain sweetness is hard to nail down. All flavors are neutral and none really jump out, but the flavor is still pretty decent.

Mouthfeel is medium, with average carbonation, an almost watery smooth feel and a slightly bitter aftertaste that leaves a grainy sweetness that's almost got a metallic funk similarity. No sign of the ABV at all.

Overall it was decent. An above average lager, but not sure what a Kentucky-Style Common Ale should be like. Nice effort from a new brewer taking on a recipe from a book and maybe starting a revival. Better than most macros, it was worth $3.75 for the pint can. A little on the sweet and basic side, but worth a try.

Sep 20, 2014
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curasowa from New York

3/5  rDev -13.8%

Appearance: Dark, copper color with a huge, three-finger head that fades slowly with chunky lacing.

Aroma: Pretty phenolic, a little metallic with some toasted malt in the background.

Taste: Smooth, toasted malt, somewhat lager-like, lots of phenolic and metallic notes in the middle with some roasted malt and a slight tinge of bitterness towards the finish, which is pretty fast and clean.

The Rest: Quite a few off notes taint an otherwise good beer. I'll have to see how the rest of the the four-pack is; this might just be a bad can.

I had another can and while not as bad as this one, it was still pretty phenolic.

Aug 19, 2014
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utopiajane from New York

3.67/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours an orange amber, clear and with lots of bubbles coming to the top. A dirty off white head of creamy foam that falls fast. Nose is malty, some corn sweetness and a bit of floral. Drinks malty but light with a lager carbonation that has some bite to it. Light caramel. Sweet with a bit of hop bitter at the very end and some malt dryness that defies the sweetness of the adjunct. It reminds me of corn flakes with a little sugar on them. Soft creamy mouthfeel with a clean finish. Grainy and even a bit tart. Some herbal in the finish also with a bitter edge. Mild and light this is a perfectly enjoyable adjunct beer in a style that has not been seen since prohibition.

Jul 29, 2014
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Huffs from New York

3.08/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Poured to a pint glass, nice head developed, a bit bubbly, with mild retention and lacing. Appearance was a copper / amber color with a slight haze. Aroma had notes of malt and citrus with some sour thrown in. Tasted earthy with notes of malt, toffee, grass and wood, almost a woody / whisky taste. Mouthfeel was light, almost watery, with a mild and dry aftertaste.

Nov 09, 2013
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metter98 from New York

3.58/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: The beer is crystal clear reddish amber in color and has a slight amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high off white head that died down, leaving patches of bubbles on the surface and a collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of sweet toasted malts are present in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and has light flavors of toasted malts, but the sweetness is mostly replaced by a slight amount of bitterness.
M: It feels just about medium-bodied and a little creamy on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is very easy to drink and doesn't seem to be over the top with any of the flavors so it would probably be a good choice for a novice beer drinker.

Oct 21, 2013
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dbrauneis from North Carolina

3.71/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a crystal clear medium ruby reddish amber in color with light to moderate amounts of active visible carbonation rising from the bottom of the glass and some garnet red highlights. The beer has a quarter finger tall creamy off-white head that reduces to a large patch of very thin film covering the majority of the surface of the beer and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Light to moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of toasted malts with a light amount of sweetness.

T: Upfront there is a moderate flavor of toasted malts with a light amount of grainy sweetness. That is followed by a light amount of earthy hops that impart a light amount of bitterness which fades pretty quickly.

M: Light to medium bodied with a little more than moderate amounts of carbonation. Lightly creamy.

O: This beer is very easy to drink and enjoyable. Considered a Kentucky Common Ale (whatever that is) by the brewer on the can packaging. If this is really a cream ale, I wish it was just a little creamier. Definitely worth a try.

Oct 21, 2013
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Billolick from New York

3.73/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

16 ounce can purchased as part of a four pack for $9.99 at peekskill Beer and soda, Peekskill, NY

Pours near clear chocolaty amber, supporting aa creamy and slowly morphing darker khaki head. Leaves decent amounts of low sheeting and then fine webs and spots of lace on the glass.

Sweet malt nose with powdered chocolate on the nose.

On the sweet side with more nice tasting lite chocolate and malts carrying this one forward.

Easy drinking and pleasant enough. Respectable take on the style.

(BTW they call this a "Kentucky style common ale" on the notes on the can)

Not really my favorite style, but this one would do fine helping to marianate some pork or in a pot of chili, or a decent choice to help expose a newbie to better beer.

Sep 22, 2013
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tviz33 from New York

3.8/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reviewing from memory. I'll update this when I have it again.
Served in a red solo cup at a grad party.

A- Pours clear but dark with some orange/red hues and an inch tall off-white head.




O- This beer is really easy to drink. Creamy and smooth. It was perfect for a nice day of drinking outdoors. Even the non-craft beer drinkers seemed to enjoy it.

Jun 16, 2013
Common Sense from Upstate Brewing Company
Beer rating: 80 out of 100 with 104 ratings