23A. Specialty Beer
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Aroma: The character of the stated specialty ingredient or nature should be evident in the aroma, but harmonious with the other components (yet not totally overpowering them). Overall the aroma should be a pleasant combination of malt, hops and the featured specialty ingredient or nature as appropriate to the specific type of beer being presented. The individual character of special ingredients and processes may not always be identifiable when used in combination. If a classic style base beer is specified then the characteristics of that classic style should be noticeable. Note, however, that classic styles will have a different impression when brewed with unusual ingredients, additives or processes. The typical aroma components of classic beer styles (particularly hops) may be intentionally subdued to allow the special ingredients or nature to be more apparent.
Appearance: Appearance should be appropriate to the base beer being presented and will vary depending on the base beer (if declared). Note that unusual ingredients or processes may affect the appearance so that the result is quite different from the declared base style. Some ingredients may add color (including to the head), and may affect head formation and retention.
Flavor: As with aroma, the distinctive flavor character associated with the stated specialty nature should be noticeable, and may range in intensity from subtle to aggressive. The marriage of specialty ingredients or nature with the underlying beer should be harmonious, and the specialty character should not seem artificial and/or totally overpowering. Hop bitterness, flavor, malt flavors, alcohol content, and fermentation by-products, such as esters or diacetyl, should be appropriate to the base beer (if declared) and be well-integrated with the distinctive specialty flavors present. Some ingredients may add tartness, sweetness, or other flavor by-products. Remember that fruit and sugar adjuncts generally add flavor and not excessive sweetness to beer. The sugary adjuncts, as well as sugar found in fruit, are usually fully fermented and contribute to a lighter flavor profile and a drier finish than might be expected for the declared base style. The individual character of special ingredients and processes may not always be identifiable when used in combination. If a classic style base beer is specified then the characteristics of that classic style should be noticeable. Note, however, that classic styles will have a different impression when brewed with unusual ingredients, additives or processes. Note that these components (especially hops) may be intentionally subdued to allow the specialty character to come through in the final presentation.
Mouthfeel: Mouthfeel may vary depending on the base beer selected and as appropriate to that base beer (if declared). Body and carbonation levels should be appropriate to the base beer style being presented. Unusual ingredients or processes may affect the mouthfeel so that the result is quite different from the declared base style.
Overall Impression: A harmonious marriage of ingredients, processes and beer. The key attributes of the underlying style (if declared) will be atypical due to the addition of special ingredients or techniques; do not expect the base beer to taste the same as the unadulterated version. Judge the beer based on the pleasantness and harmony of the resulting combination. The overall uniqueness of the process, ingredients used, and creativity should be considered. The overall rating of the beer depends heavily on the inherently subjective assessment of distinctiveness and drinkability.
Comments: Overall harmony and drinkability are the keys to presenting a well-made specialty beer. The distinctive nature of the stated specialty ingredients/methods should complement the original style (if declared) and not totally overwhelm it. The brewer should recognize that some combinations of base beer styles and ingredients or techniques work well together while others do not make palatable combinations. THE BREWER MUST SPECIFY THE "EXPERIMENTAL NATURE" OF THE BEER (E.G., TYPE OF SPECIAL INGREDIENTS USED, PROCESS UTILIZED OR HISTORICAL STYLE BEING BREWED), OR WHY THE BEER DOESN'T FIT AN ESTABLISHED STYLE. THE BREWER MAY SPECIFY AN UNDERLYING BEER STYLE. If a classic style is identified, the base style should be recognizable. Classic styles do not need to be cited (e.g., "maple smoked porter" is acceptable). For historical styles or unusual ingredients/techniques that may not be known to all beer judges, the brewer should provide descriptions of the styles, ingredients and/or techniques as an aid to the judges.
Commercial Examples: Bell's Rye Stout, Bell's Eccentric Ale, Lakefront Riverwest Steinbeer, Samuel Adams Triple Bock, Hair of the Dog Adam, Great Alba Scots Pine, Tommyknocker Maple Nut Brown Ale, Divide Bee Sting Honey Ale, Stoudt's Honey Double Mai Bock, Rogue Yellow Snow, Rogue Honey Cream Ale, Dogfish Head India Brown Ale, Zum Uerige Sticke Altbier
For example recipes please visit the Home Brew Talk recipe section for Specialty Beer.