See the Introduction to Specialty-Type Beer section for additional comments, particularly on evaluating the balance of added ingredients with the base beer.
A harmonious marriage of SHV and beer, but still recognizable as a beer. The SHV character should be evident but in balance with the beer, not so forward as to suggest an artificial product.
Appearance should be appropriate to the declared base beer and declared special ingredients. For lighter-colored beers with spices, herbs or vegetables that exhibit distinctive colors, the colors may be noticeable in the beer and possibly the head. May have some haze or be clear. Head formation may be adversely affected by some ingredients, such as chocolate.
The character of the particular spices, herbs and/or vegetables (SHV) should be noticeable in the aroma; however, note that some SHV (e.g., ginger, cinnamon) have stronger aromas and are more distinctive than others (e.g., some vegetables) – allow for a range of SHV character and intensity from subtle to aggressive. The individual character of each SHV(s) may not always be identifiable when used in combination. Hop aroma may be absent or balanced with SHV, depending on the style. The SHV(s) should add an extra complexity to the beer, but not be so prominent as to unbalance the resulting presentation.
As with aroma, the distinctive flavor character associated with the particular SHV(s) should be noticeable, and may range in intensity from subtle to aggressive. The individual character of each SHV(s) may not always be identifiable when used in combination. The balance of SHV with the underlying beer is vital, and the SHV character should not be so artificial and/or overpowering as to overwhelm the beer. 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 SHV flavors present. Some SHV(s) are inherently bitter and may result in a beer more bitter than the declared base style.
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 base beer style being presented. 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.
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 of spices, herbs, or vegetables used, but individual ingredients do not need to be specified if a well-known spice blend is used (e.g., apple pie spice, curry powder, chili powder).
OG, FG, IBUs, SRM and ABV will vary depending on the underlying base beer.
Overall balance is the key to presenting a well-made spice, herb or vegetable (SHV) beer. The SHV(s) should complement the original style and not overwhelm it. The key attributes of the declared base style will be different with the addition of spices, herbs and/or vegetables; 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 individual character of each SHV may not always be individually identifiable when used in combination.