28B. Mixed-Fermentation Sour Beer

Overall Impression

A sour and/or funky version of a base style of beer.

Appearance

Variable by base style. Clarity can be variable; some haze is not a fault. Head retention can be poor due to high levels of acid or anti-foam properties of some lactobacillus strains.

Aroma

Variable by base style. The contribution of non-Saccharomyces microbes should be noticeable to strong, and often contribute a sour and/or funky, wild note. The best examples will display a range of aromatics, rather than a single dominant character. The aroma should be inviting, not harsh or unpleasant.

Flavor

Variable by base style. Look for an agreeable balance between the base beer and the fermentation character. A range of results is possible from fairly high acidity/funk to a subtle, pleasant, harmonious beer. The best examples are pleasurable to drink with the esters and phenols complementing the malt and/or hops. The wild character can be prominent, but does not need to be dominating in a style with an otherwise strong malt/hop profile. Acidity should be firm yet enjoyable, but should not be biting or vinegary; prominent or objectionable/offensive acetic acid is a fault. Bitterness tends to be low, especially as sourness increases.

Mouthfeel

Variable by base style. Generally a light body, almost always lighter than what might be expected from the base style. Generally moderate to high carbonation, although often lower in higher alcohol examples.

Comments

These beers may be aged in wood, but any wood character should not be a primary or dominant flavor. Sour beers are typically not bitter as these flavors clash. The base beer style becomes less relevant because the various yeast and bacteria tend to dominate the profile. Inappropriate characteristics include diacetyl, solvent, ropy/viscous texture, and heavy oxidation.

History

Modern American craft beer interpretations of Belgian sour ales, or experimentations inspired by Belgian sour ales.

Characteristic Ingredients

Virtually any style of beer. Usually fermented by Lactobacillus and/or Pediococcus, often in conjunction with Saccharomyces and/or Brettanomyces. Can also be a blend of styles. Wood or barrel aging is very common, but not required.

Style Comparison

A sour and/or funky version of a base style.

Entry Instructions

The entrant must specify a description of the beer, identifying the yeast/bacteria used and either a base style or the ingredients/specs/target character of the beer.

Vital Statistics

Variable by style

Commercial Examples

Boulevard Love Child, Cascade Vlad the Imp Aler, Jester King Le Petit Prince, Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Blanca, Russian River Temptation, The Bruery Rueuze, The Bruery Tart of Darkness.

28C. Wild Specialty Beer

Overall Impression

A sour and/or funky version of a fruit, herb, or spice beer, or a wild beer aged in wood. If wood-aged, the wood should not be the primary or dominant character.

Appearance

Variable by base style, generally showing a color, tint, or hue from any fruit (if used) in both the beer and the head. Clarity can be variable; some haze is not a fault. Head retention is often poor.

Aroma

Variable by base style. Should show the fruit, sour and/or funk of a wild fermentation, as well as the characteristics of the special ingredients used. The best examples will blend the aromatics from the fermentation with the special ingredients, creating an aroma that may be difficult to attribute precisely.

Flavor

Variable by base style. Should show the fruit, sour and/or funk of a wild fermentation, as well as the characteristics of the special ingredients used. Any fruit sweetness is generally gone, so only the esters typically remain from the fruit. The sour character from the fruit and wild fermentation could be prominent, but should not be overwhelming. The acidity and tannin from any fruit can both enhance the dryness of the beer, so care must be taken with the balance. The acidity should enhance the perception of the fruit flavor, not detract from it. Wood notes, if present, add flavor but should be balanced.

Mouthfeel

Variable by base style. Generally a light body, lighter than what might be expected from the base style. Generally moderate to high carbonation; carbonation should balance the base style if one is declared. The presence of tannin from some fruit or wood can provide a slight astringency, enhance the body, or make the beer seem drier than it is.

Comments

A wild beer featuring fruit, herbs, spices, or wood based on a style other than lambic. Could be another Classic Style (normally sour or not), or something more generic. These beers may be aged in wood, but any wood character should not be a primary or dominant flavor.

History

Modern American craft beer interpretations of Belgian wild ales, or experimentations inspired by Belgian wild ales.

Characteristic Ingredients

Virtually any style of beer. Any combination of Saccharomyces, Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, or other similar fermenters. Can also be a blend of styles. While cherries, raspberries, and peaches are most common, other fruits can be used as well. Vegetables with fruit-like characteristics (chile, rhubarb, pumpkin, etc.) may also be used. Wood or barrel aging is very common, but not required.

Style Comparison

Like a fruit, herb, spice, or wood beer, but sour and/or funky.

Entry Instructions

Entrant must specify the type of fruit, spice, herb, or wood used. Entrant must specify a description of the beer, identifying the yeast/bacteria used and either a base style or the ingredients/specs/target character of the beer. A general description of the special nature of the beer can cover all the required items.

Vital Statistics

Variable by base style.

Commercial Examples

Cascade Bourbonic Plague, Jester King Atrial Rubicite, New Belgium Eric’s Ale, New Glarus Belgian Red, Russian River Supplication, The Lost Abbey Cuvee de Tomme.

29. Fruit Beer

The Fruit Beer category is for beer made with any fruit or combination of fruit under the definitions of this category. The culinary, not botanical, definition of fruit is used here – fleshy, seed-associated structures of plants that are sweet or sour, and edible in the raw state. Examples include pome fruit (apple, pear, quince), stone fruit (cherry, plum, peach, apricot, mango, etc.), berries (any fruit with the word ‘berry’ in it), currants, citrus fruit, dried fruit (dates, prunes, raisins, etc.), tropical fruit (banana, pineapple, guava, papaya, etc.), figs, pomegranate, prickly pear, and so on. It does not mean spices, herbs, or vegetables as defined in Category 30, especially botanical fruit treated as culinary vegetables. Basically, if you have to justify a fruit using the word “technically” as part of the description, then that’s not what we mean.

29A. Fruit Beer

See the Introduction to Specialty-Type Beer section for additional comments, particularly on evaluating the balance of added ingredients with the base beer.

Overall Impression

A harmonious marriage of fruit and beer, but still recognizable as a beer. The fruit character should be evident but in balance with the beer, not so forward as to suggest an artificial product.

Appearance

Appearance should be appropriate for the declared base beer and declared fruit. For lighter-colored beers with fruits that exhibit distinctive colors, the color should be noticeable. Note that the color of fruit in beer is often lighter than the flesh of the fruit itself and may take on slightly different shades. Fruit beers may have some haze or be clear, although haze is a generally undesirable. The head may take on some of the color of the fruit.

Aroma

The distinctive aromatics associated with the declared fruit should be noticeable in the aroma; however, note that some fruit (e.g., raspberries, cherries) have stronger aromas and are more distinctive than others (e.g., blueberries, strawberries) – allow for a range of fruit character and intensity from subtle to aggressive. The additional aromatics should blend well with whatever aromatics are appropriate for the declared base beer style.

Flavor

As with aroma, the distinctive flavor character associated with the declared fruit should be noticeable, and may range in intensity from subtle to aggressive. The balance of fruit with the underlying beer is vital, and the fruit character should not be so artificial and/or inappropriately overpowering as to suggest a ‘fruit juice drink.’ Hop bitterness, flavor, malt flavors, alcohol content, and fermentation by-products, such as esters, should be appropriate to the base beer and be harmonious and balanced with the distinctive fruit flavors present. Remember that fruit generally add flavor not sweetness to fruit beers. The sugar found in fruit is usually fully fermented and contributes to lighter flavors and a drier finish than might be expected for the declared base style. However, residual sweetness is not necessarily a negative characteristic unless it has a raw, unfermented quality.

Mouthfeel

Mouthfeel may vary depending on the base beer selected and as appropriate to that base beer. Body and carbonation levels should be appropriate to the declared base beer style. Fruit generally adds fermentables that tend to thin out the beer; the resulting beer may seem lighter than expected for the declared base style. Smaller and darker fruit have a tendency to add a tannic depth that should overwhelm the base beer.

Comments

Overall balance is the key to presenting a well-made fruit beer. The fruit should complement the original style and not overwhelm it. The key attributes of the underlying style will be different with the addition of fruit; do not expect the base beer to taste the same as the unadulterated version. Judge the beer based on the pleasantness and balance of the resulting combination.

Entry Instructions

The entrant must specify a base style, but the declared style does not have to be a Classic Style. The entrant must specify the type(s) of fruit used. Soured fruit beers that aren’t lambics should be entered in the American Wild Ale category.

Vital Statistics

OG, FG, IBUs, SRM and ABV will vary depending on the underlying base beer, but the fruit will often be reflected in the color.

Commercial Examples

Bell’s Cherry Stout, Dogfish Head Aprihop, Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale, Founders Rübæus.

Style Attributes

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29B. Fruit and Spice Beer

See the Introduction to Specialty-Type Beer section for additional comments, particularly on evaluating the balance of added ingredients with the base beer. The definition of Fruit in the preamble to Category 29 and Spice in the preamble to Category 30 apply; any combination of ingredients valid in Styles 29A and 30A are allowable in this category. The use of the word spice does not imply only spices can be used; any Spice, Herb, or Vegetable (SHV) from Category 30 may be used.

Overall Impression

A harmonious marriage of fruit, spice, and beer, but still recognizable as a beer. The fruit and spice character should each be evident but in balance with the beer, not so forward as to suggest an artificial product.

Appearance

Appearance should be appropriate for the declared base beer and declared fruit and spices. For lighter-colored beers with fruits or spices that exhibit distinctive colors, the color should be noticeable. Note that the color of fruit in beer is often lighter than the flesh of the fruit itself and may take on slightly different shades. May have some haze or be clear, although haze is a generally undesirable. The head may take on some of the color of the fruit or spice.

Aroma

The distinctive aromatics associated with the declared fruit and spices should be noticeable in the aroma; however, note that some fruit (e.g., raspberries, cherries) and some spices (e.g., cinnamon, ginger) have stronger aromas and are more distinctive than others (e.g., blueberries, strawberries) – allow for a range of fruit and spice character and intensity from subtle to aggressive. The additional aromatics should blend well with whatever aromatics are appropriate for the declared base beer style. The hop aroma may be absent or balanced, depending on the declared base style.

Flavor

As with aroma, the distinctive flavor character associated with the declared fruits and spices should be noticeable, and may range in intensity from subtle to aggressive. The balance of fruit and spices with the underlying beer is vital, and the fruit character should not be so artificial and/or inappropriately overpowering as to suggest a spiced fruit juice drink. Hop bitterness, flavor, malt flavors, alcohol content, and fermentation by-products, such as esters, should be appropriate to the base beer and be harmonious and balanced with the distinctive fruit and spice flavors present. Remember that fruit generally add flavor not sweetness. The sugar found in fruit is usually fully fermented and contributes to lighter flavors and a drier finish than might be expected for the declared base style. However, residual sweetness is not necessarily a negative characteristic unless it has a raw, unfermented quality. Some SHV(s) are inherently bitter and may result in a beer more bitter than the declared base style.

Mouthfeel

Mouthfeel may vary depending on the base beer selected and as appropriate to that base beer. Body and carbonation levels should be appropriate to the declared base beer style. Fruit generally adds fermentables that tend to thin out the beer; the resulting beer may seem lighter than expected for the declared base style. Some SHV(s) may add additional body, although fermentable additions may thin out the beer. Some SHV(s) may add a bit of astringency, although a “raw” spice character is undesirable.

Comments

verall balance is the key to presenting a well-made fruit and spice beer. The fruit and spice should each complement the original style and not overwhelm it. The key attributes of the underlying style will be different with the addition of fruit and spice; do not expect the base beer to taste the same as the unadulterated version. Judge the beer based on the pleasantness and balance of the resulting combination. The brewer should recognize that some combinations of base beer styles and fruits/spices work well together while others do not make for harmonious combinations. Whenever fruits, spices, herbs or vegetables are declared, each should be noticeable and distinctive in its own way (although not necessarily individually identifiable; balanced with the other ingredients is still critical) – in other words, the beer should read as a spiced fruit beer but without having to tell that specific fruits and spices are present (even if declared).

Entry Instructions

The entrant must specify a base style; the declared style does not have to be a Classic Style. The entrant must specify the type of fruit and spices, herbs, or vegetables (SHV) used; individual SHV ingredients do not need to be specified if a well-known blend of spices is used (e.g., apple pie spice).

Vital Statistics

OG, FG, IBUs, SRM and ABV will vary depending on the underlying base beer, but the fruit will often be reflected in the color.

Style Attributes

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