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Specialty-Type Beer is a broad term used to refer to the styles in this category. Apart from Rauchbier (a ClassicSstyle), they involve some form of transformation of either a Classic Style or another base beer, either though adding additional ingredients, or handling the beer differently using an alternative process. The Specialty-Type Beer style descriptions cannot completely describe a style on their own, as Classic Style write-ups do. Rather, the Specialty-Type Beer style descriptions discuss how the additional ingredient or process affects the base beer style.

This introduction section is assumed to be part of every Specialty-Type Beer style. It describes in general how to enter and judge a Specialty-Type Beer. Specific instructions for a style will be contained within the individual guidelines.

In general, when submitting a Specialty-Type Beer with a food-type ingredient, keep in mind that we use the culinary definition of ingredients rather than the botanical definition of ingredients. Look for the detailed lists of ingredients in the style category descriptions rather than making an assumption.

Entering Specialty-Type Beers

Since additional information must be furnished with every entry in a Specialty-Type Beer category, it is critical that entrants closely examine the Entry Instructions section of each style description. This section describes the information that judges will expect. Don’t assume that judges will be able to recognize your beer without any additional information; some might, but most won’t. You will almost certainly receive a lower score if you omit this information than if you specify it properly. Put yourself in the position of the judge; write down the useful information needed to properly judge the beer. Judges won’t care if you picked the cherries in your grandmother’s yard, so don’t put down useless information – tell them the variety of cherry or how they taste.

When specifying a base beer style, read the Entry Instructions for the style carefully. Some may say that a Classic Style is required – this means that the beer should be listed as one of the styles in the guidelines (including historical beers, or beers with enumerated alternatives). Some may say that a base style must be described, but that it does not have to be a Classic Style – this is free license to describe the beer style in any way you want. If your base is loosely a porter, but wouldn’t score well as an English, American, or Baltic Porter, then don’t be overly specific – simply call it a porter. Some beers that are designed to showcase the specialty ingredient will often have a fairly neutral base.

When specifying the specialty ingredient, keep in mind that the more specific you are, the more judges will look for a signature characteristic. So be sure to taste your beer and decide how specific you need to be. If you are showcasing an unusual or expensive ingredient, that may be a good time to be specific. However, if the ingredient seems somewhat generic, then just use a generic name. If you use a combination of ingredients, such as spices, you can refer to the blend by a common name (e.g., pumpkin pie spice, curry powder, etc.). If you list every individual ingredient, judges will expect to detect each one. But if the nature of a mixture of ingredients is that the specific character of each ingredient contributes to a greater character, then just describe the resulting character. Understand how judges will use the information you provide.

Deciding where to enter a Specialty-Type Beer is often difficult for entrants. Be sure to reach each style carefully, as some styles will specify where to enter a beer with a certain combination of ingredients. We have arbitrarily defined some ingredients as taking precedence over others (in order of highest precedence: wild, smoke, wood, fruit/spice, grain/sugar), but that only applies if you can perceive that ingredient. When seeking a place to enter your Specialty-Type Beer, look for the best fit with the style description in a style where the combination is allowable. Entering a beer as a specific style will be a signal to judges that your beer will have certain identifiable components. If you added an ingredient, but it cannot be detected, then do not enter it in a style that requires the ingredient. If judges cannot perceive it, they will believe it is absent and deduct points accordingly.

18.1. Rauchbier

This is Classic Style, so that the introductory notes on Specialty-type Beers do not apply. An elegant, malty German amber lager with a balanced,...

18.2. Classic Style Smoked Beer

A smoke-enhanced beer showing good balance between the smoke and beer character, while remaining pleasant to drink. Balance in the use of smoke, hops...

18.3. Specialty Smoked Beer

A Specialty Smoked Beer is either a smoked beer based on something other than a Classic Style, or any type of smoked beer with additional ingredients...

18.4. Wood-Aged Beer

This style is intended for beer aged in wood without added alcohol character from previous use of the barrel. Bourbon-barrel or other similar beers...

18.5. Specialty Wood-Aged Beer

This style is intended for beer aged in wood with added alcohol character from previous use of the barrel. Bourbon-barrel or other similar beers...

18.6. Belgian Specialty Ale

This category encompasses a wide range of Belgian ales produced by truly artisanal brewers more concerned with creating unique products than in...

18.7. Alternative Grain Beer

An Alternative Fermentables Beer is a standard beer (Classic Style or not) with additional or non-standard brewing grains (e.g., rye, oats,...

18.8. Alternative Sugar Beer

An Alternative Fermentables Beer is a standard beer (Classic Style or not) with additional fermentable sugars (e.g., honey, brown sugar, invert...

18.9. Experimental Beer

This is explicitly a catch-all category for any beer that does not fit into an existing style description. No beer is ever “out of style” in this...

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