Winter Seasonal Beer

30C. Winter Seasonal Beer

Winter Seasonal Beers are beers that suggest cold weather and the Christmas holiday season, and may include holiday spices, specialty sugars, and other products that are reminiscent of mulling spices or Christmas holiday desserts. 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 stronger, darker, spiced beer that often has a rich body and warming finish suggesting a good accompaniment for the cold winter season.

Aroma:
A wide range of aromatics is possible, although many examples are reminiscent of Christmas cookies, gingerbread, English-type Christmas pudding, evergreen trees, or mulling spices. Any combination of aromatics that suggests the holiday season is welcome. The base beer style often has a malty profile that supports the balanced presentation of the aromatics from spices and possibly other special ingredients. Additional fermentables (e.g., honey, molasses, maple syrup, etc.) may lend their own unique aromatics. Hop aromatics are often absent, subdued, or slightly spicy. Some fruit character (often of dried citrus peel, or dried fruit such as raisins or plums) is optional but acceptable. Alcohol aromatics may be found in some examples, but this character should be restrained. The overall aroma should be balanced and harmonious, and is often fairly complex and inviting.

Appearance:
Generally medium amber to very dark brown (darker versions are more common). Usually clear, although darker versions may be virtually opaque. Some chill haze is acceptable. Generally has a well-formed head that is often off-white to tan.

Flavor:
Many interpretations are possible; allow for brewer creativity as long as the resulting product is balanced and provides some spice presentation. Spices associated with the holiday season are typical (as mentioned in the Aroma section). The spices and optional fermentables should be supportive and blend well with the base beer style. Rich, malty and/or sweet malt-based flavors are common, and may include caramel, toast, nutty, or chocolate flavors. May include some dried fruit or dried fruit peel flavors such as raisin, plum, fig, orange peel or lemon peel. May include distinctive flavors from specific fermentables (molasses, honey, brown sugar, etc.), although these elements are not required. A light evergreen tree character is optional but found in some examples. The wide range of special ingredients should be supportive and balanced, not so prominent as to overshadow the base beer. Bitterness and hop flavor are generally restrained so as to not interfere with the spices and special ingredients. Generally finishes rather full and satisfying, and often has some alcohol flavor. Roasted malt characteristics are rare, and not usually stronger than chocolate.

Mouthfeel:
A wide range of interpretations is possible. Body is generally medium to full, and a certain malty chewiness is often present. Moderately low to moderately high carbonation is typical. Many examples will show some well-aged, warming alcohol content, but without being overly hot. The beers do not have to be overly strong to show some warming effects.

Comments:
Overall balance is the key to presenting a well-made Winter Seasonal Beer. The special ingredients should complement the base beer and not overwhelm it. The brewer should recognize that some combinations of base beer styles and special ingredients work well together while others do not make for harmonious combinations. If the base beer is a classic style, the original style should come through in aroma and flavor. Whenever spices, herbs or additional fermentables 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). Whenever spices, herbs or additional fermentables 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 beer but without having to tell that specific spices are present (even if declared).

History:
Throughout history, beer of a somewhat higher alcohol content and richness has been enjoyed during the winter holidays, when old friends get together to enjoy the season. Many breweries produce unique seasonal offerings that may be darker, stronger, spiced, or otherwise more characterful than their normal beers. Spiced versions are an American or Belgian tradition, since English or German breweries traditionally do not use spices in their beer.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Generally ales, although some dark strong lagers exist. Spices are required, and often include those evocative of the Christmas season (e.g., allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, ginger) but any combination is possible and creativity is encouraged. Fruit peel (e.g., oranges, lemon) may be used, as may subtle additions of other fruits. Flavorful adjuncts are often used (e.g., molasses, treacle, invert sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc.).

Commercial Examples:
Anchor Our Special Ale, Goose Island Christmas Ale, Great Lakes Christmas Ale, Harpoon Winter Warmer, Lakefront Holiday Spice Lager Beer, Weyerbacher Winter Ale

Autumn Seasonal Beer

30B. Autumn Seasonal Beer

Autumn Seasonal Beers are beers that suggest cool weather and the autumn harvest season, and may include pumpkin or other squashes, and the associated spices. 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:
An amber to copper, spiced beer that often has a moderately rich body and slightly warming finish suggesting a good accompaniment for the cool fall season, and often evocative of Thanksgiving traditions.

Aroma:
A wide range of aromatics is possible, although many examples are reminiscent of pumpkin pie, candied yams, or similar harvest or (US) Thanksgiving themed dishes. Any combination of aromatics that suggests the fall season is welcome. The base beer style often has a malty profile that supports the balanced presentation of the aromatics from spices and possibly other special ingredients. Additional fermentables (e.g., brown sugar, honey, molasses, maple syrup, etc.) may lend their own unique aromatics. Hop aromatics are often absent, subdued, or slightly spicy. Alcohol aromatics may be found in some examples, but this character should be restrained. The overall aroma should be balanced and harmonious, and is often fairly complex and inviting.

Appearance:
Generally medium amber to coppery-brown (lighter versions are more common). Usually clear, although darker versions may be virtually opaque. Some chill haze is acceptable. Generally has a well-formed head that is often off-white to tan. Some versions with squashes will take on an unusual hue for beer, with orange-like hints.

Flavor:
Many interpretations are possible; allow for brewer creativity as long as the resulting product is balanced and provides some spice (and optionally, sugar and vegetable) presentation. Spices associated with the fall season are typical (as mentioned in the Aroma section). The spices and optional fermentables should be supportive and blend well with the base beer style. Rich, malty and/or sweet malt-based flavors are common, and may include caramel, toasty, biscuity, or nutty flavors (toasted bread crust or cooked pie crust flavors are welcome). May include distinctive flavors from specific fermentables (molasses, honey, brown sugar, etc.), although these elements are not required. Flavor derived from squash-based vegetables are often elusive. The wide range of special ingredients should be supportive and balanced, not so prominent as to overshadow the base beer. Bitterness and hop flavor are generally restrained so as to not interfere with the spices and special ingredients. Generally finishes rather full and satisfying, and often has some alcohol flavor. Roasted malt characteristics are typically absent.

Mouthfeel:
A wide range of interpretations is possible. Body is generally medium to full, and a certain malty and/or vegetable-based chewiness is often present. Moderately low to moderately high carbonation is typical. Many examples will show some well-aged, warming alcohol content, but without being overly hot. The beers do not have to be overly strong to show some warming effects.
Comments: Overall balance is the key to presenting a well-made Autumn Seasonal beer. The special ingredients should complement the base beer and not overwhelm it. The brewer should recognize that some combinations of base beer styles and special ingredients work well together while others do not make for harmonious combinations. If the base beer is a classic style, the original style should come through in aroma and flavor. Whenever spices, herbs or additional fermentables 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 beer but without having to tell that specific spices are present (even if declared).

Characteristic Ingredients:
Spices are required, and often include those evocative of the fall or Thanksgiving season (e.g., allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, ginger) but any combination is possible and creativity is encouraged. Flavorful adjuncts are often used (e.g., molasses, invert sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc.). Squash-type or gourd-type vegetables (most frequently pumpkin) are often used.
Vital Statistics:
OG, FG, IBUs, SRM and ABV will vary depending on the underlying base beer. ABV is generally above 5%, and most examples are somewhat amber-copper in color.

Commercial Examples:
Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, Schlafly Pumpkin Ale, Southampton Pumpkin Ale

Spice Herb or Vegetable Beer

30A. Spice, Herb, or Vegetable 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 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.

Aroma:
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.

Appearance:
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.

Flavor:
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:
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.

Comments:
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.

Vital Statistics:
OG, FG, IBUs, SRM and ABV will vary depending on the underlying base beer.

Commercial Examples:
Alesmith Speedway Stout, Bell’s Java Stout, Elysian Avatar Jasmine IPA, Founders Breakfast Stout, Rogue Chipotle Ale, Traquair Jacobite Ale, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout,

Fruit and Spice Beer

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.

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.

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.

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:
Overall 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).

Wild Specialty Beer

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.

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.

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.

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.