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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.