32B. 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 (fruits, vegetables, spices) or processes employed that transform the beer into something more unique.

Overall Impression

A smoke-enhanced beer showing good balance between the smoke, the beer character, and the added ingredients, while remaining pleasant to drink. Balance in the use of smoke, hops and malt character is exhibited by the better examples.

Appearance

Variable. The appearance should reflect the base beer style, although the color of the beer is often a bit darker than the plain base style. The use of certain fruits and spices may affect the color and hue of the beer as well.

Aroma

The aroma should be a pleasant balance between the expected aroma of the base beer, the smokiness imparted by the use of smoked malts, and any additional ingredients. The intensity and character of the smoke, base beer style, and additional ingredients can vary, with any being more prominent in the balance. Smokiness may vary from low to assertive; however, balance in the overall presentation is the key to well-made examples. The quality and secondary characteristics of the smoke are reflective of the source of the smoke (e.g., alder, oak, beechwood). Sharp, phenolic, harsh, rubbery, or burnt smoke-derived aromatics are inappropriate.

Flavor

As with aroma, there should be a balance between smokiness, the expected flavor characteristics of the base beer style, and the additional ingredients. Smokiness may vary from low to assertive. Smoky flavors may range from woody to somewhat bacon-like depending on the type of malts used. The balance of underlying beer characteristics and smoke can vary, although the resulting blend should be somewhat balanced and enjoyable. Smoke can add some dryness to the finish. Harsh, bitter, burnt, charred, rubbery, sulfury, medicinal, or phenolic smoky characteristics are generally inappropriate (although some of these characteristics may be present in some base styles; however, the smoked malt shouldn’t contribute these flavors).

Mouthfeel

Varies with the base beer style. Significant astringent, phenolic smoke-derived harshness is inappropriate.

Comments

Any style of beer can be smoked; the goal is to reach a pleasant balance between the smoke character and the base beer style. Entries should be judged on how well that style is represented, and how well it is balanced with the smoke character. Entries with a specific type or types of smoke cited will be judged on how well that type of smoke is recognizable and marries with the base style and added ingredients. Judges should evaluate the beers mostly on the overall balance, and how well the smoke character and added ingredients enhances the base beer.

Characteristic Ingredients

Different materials used to smoke malt result in unique flavor and aroma characteristics. Beechwood, or other hardwood (oak, maple, mesquite, alder, pecan, apple, cherry, other fruitwoods) smoked malts may be used. The various woods may remind one of certain smoked products due to their food association (e.g., hickory with ribs, maple with bacon or sausage, and alder with salmon). Evergreen wood should never be used since it adds a medicinal, piney flavor to the malt. Noticeable peat-smoked malt is universally undesirable due to its sharp, piercing phenolics and dirt-like earthiness. The beer ingredients vary with the base style. Other unusual ingredients (fruits, vegetables, spices, honey, etc.) used in noticeable quantities.

Entry Instructions

The entrant must specify a base beer style; the base beer does not have to be a Classic Style. The entrant must specify the type of wood or smoke if a varietal smoke character is noticeable. The entrant must specify the additional ingredients or processes that make this a specialty smoked beer.

Vital Statistics

Varies with the base beer style.

Style Attributes

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33. Wood Beer

This category contains specialty beers with a wood-aged character, with or without added alcohol character.

33A. 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 should be entered as a Specialty Wood-Aged Beer.

Overall Impression

A harmonious blend of the base beer style with characteristics from aging in contact with wood. The best examples will be smooth, flavorful, well-balanced and well-aged.

Appearance

Varies with base style. Often darker than the unadulterated base beer style, particularly if toasted/charred barrels are used.

Aroma

Varies with base style. A low to moderate wood- or oak-based aroma is usually present. Fresh wood can occasionally impart raw “green” aromatics, although this character should never be too strong. Other optional aromatics include a low to moderate vanilla, caramel, toffee, toast, or cocoa character from any char on the wood. Any alcohol character should be smooth and balanced, not hot. Some background oxidation character is optional, and can take on a pleasant, sherry-like character and not be papery or cardboard-like. Should not have added alcohol character.

Flavor

Varies with base style. Wood usually contributes a woody or oaky flavor, which can occasionally take on a raw “green” flavor if new wood is used. Other flavors that may optionally be present include vanilla (from vanillin in the wood); caramel, butterscotch, toasted bread or almonds (from toasted wood); and coffee, chocolate, cocoa (from charred wood). The wood and/or other cask-derived flavors should be balanced, supportive and noticeable, but should not overpower the base beer style. Some background oxidation character is optional, although this should take on a pleasant, sherry-like character and not be papery or cardboard-like.

Mouthfeel

Varies with base style. Wood can add tannins to the beer, depending on age of the cask. The tannins can lead to additional astringency (which should never be high), or simply a fuller mouthfeel. Tart or acidic characteristics should be low to none, and never distracting.

Comments

The base beer style should be apparent. The wood-based character should be evident, but not so dominant as to unbalance the beer. The intensity of the wood-based flavors is based on the contact time with the wood; the age, condition, and origin and char level of the barrel; and the type of wood. THIS CATEGORY SHOULD NOT BE USED FOR BASE STYLES WHERE WOOD-AGING IS A FUNDAMENTAL REQUIREMENT FOR THE STYLE (e.g., Flanders Red, Lambic, etc.). Beers made using either limited wood aging or products that only provide a subtle background character may be entered in the base beer style categories as long as the wood character isn’t prominently featured.

History

A traditional production method that is rarely used by major breweries, and usually only with specialty products. More popular with modern American craft breweries looking for new, distinctive products. Oak cask and barrels are traditional, although other woods are becoming more popular.

Characteristic Ingredients

Varies with base style. Aged in wooden casks or barrels, or using wood-based additives (wood chips, wood staves, oak essence). Fuller-bodied, higher-gravity base styles often are used since they can best stand up to the additional flavors, although experimentation is encouraged.

Entry Instructions

The entrant must specify the type of wood used and the char level (if charred). The entrant must specify the base style; the base style can be either a classic BJCP style (i.e., a named subcategory) or may be a generic type of beer (e.g., porter, brown ale). If an unusual wood has been used, the entrant must supply a brief description of the sensory aspects the wood adds to beer.

Vital Statistics

IBU

varies with base style

SRM

varies with base style, often darker than the unadulterated base style

OG

varies with base style, typically above-average

FG

varies with base style

ABV

varies with base style, typically above-average

Commercial Examples

Bush Prestige, Cigar City Humidor India Pale Ale, Faust Holzfassgereifter Eisbock, Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale, Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout, Petrus Aged Pale, Samuel Smith Yorkshire Stingo.

Style Attributes

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33B. 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 should be entered here.

Overall Impression

A harmonious blend of the base beer style with characteristics from aging in contact with wood (including alcoholic products previously in contact with the wood). The best examples will be smooth, flavorful, well-balanced and well-aged.

Appearance

Varies with base style. Often darker than the unadulterated base beer style, particularly if whiskey/bourbon barrels are used. Beers aged in wine barrels or other products with distinctive colors may also impart a color to the finished beer.

Aroma

Varies with base style. A low to moderate wood- or oak-based aroma is usually present. Other aromatics often include a low to moderate vanilla, caramel, toffee, toast, or cocoa character, as well as any aromatics associated with alcohol (distilled spirits, wine, etc.) previously stored in the wood. The added alcohol character should be smooth and balanced, not hot. Some background oxidation character is optional, and can take on a pleasant, sherry-like character and not be papery or cardboard-like.

Flavor

Varies with base style. Wood usually contributes a woody or oaky flavor. Other flavors that are typically present include vanilla (from vanillin in the wood); caramel, butterscotch, toasted bread or almonds (from toasted wood); coffee, chocolate, cocoa (from charred wood or bourbon casks); and alcohol flavors from other products previously stored in the wood. The wood and/or other cask-derived flavors should be balanced, supportive and noticeable, but should not overpower the base beer style. Some background oxidation character is optional, although this should take on a pleasant, sherry-like character and not be papery or cardboard-like.

Mouthfeel

Varies with base style. Wood can add tannins to the beer, depending on age of the cask. The tannins can lead to additional astringency (which should never be high), or simply a fuller mouthfeel. Usually exhibits additional alcohol warming. Higher alcohol levels should not result in “hot” beers; aged, smooth flavors are most desirable. Tart or acidic characteristics should be low to none.

Comments

The base beer style should be apparent. The wood-based character should be evident, but not so dominant as to unbalance the beer. The intensity of the wood-based flavors is based on the contact time with the wood; the age, condition, previous usage of the barrel; and the type of wood. Alcoholic products previously stored in the wood should be evident, but should not be so dominant as to unbalance the beer. THIS CATEGORY SHOULD NOT BE USED FOR BASE STYLES WHERE BARREL-AGING IS A FUNDAMENTAL REQUIREMENT FOR THE STYLE (e.g., Flanders Red, Lambic, etc.). Special wood-aged wild ales should be entered in the Wild Specialty style.

History

A traditional production method that is rarely used by major breweries, and usually only with specialty products. Quite popular with modern American craft breweries looking for new, distinctive products. Oak cask and barrels are traditional, although other woods can be used.

Characteristic Ingredients

Varies with base style. Aged in wooden casks or barrels previously used to store alcohol (e.g., whiskey, bourbon, port, sherry, Madeira, wine, etc). Fuller-bodied, higher-gravity base styles often are used since they can best stand up to the additional flavors, although experimentation is encouraged.

Entry Instructions

The entrant must specify the additional alcohol character, with information about the barrel if relevant to the finished flavor profile. The entrant must specify the base style; the base style can be either a classic BJCP style (i.e., a named subcategory) or may be a generic type of beer (e.g., porter, brown ale). If an unusual wood or ingredient has been used, the entrant must supply a brief description of the sensory aspects the ingredients adds to the beer.

Commercial Examples

Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout, Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, J.W. Lees Harvest Ale in Port, Sherry, Lagavulin Whisky or Calvados Casks, The Lost Abbey Angel’s Share Ale.

Style Attributes

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34. Specialty Beer

While there are many Specialty-Type Beers in these guidelines, the Specialty Beer category is intended for those beers that do not fit anywhere else. As the number of Specialty-Type categories is quite large, most beers are expected to be entered elsewhere unless there is something quite unusual or unique about them. Please check each other Specialty-Type category first before deciding to enter a beer in one of these styles.

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