Help Entering Specialty Beers

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Specialty beer refers to categories 28 to 34 according to the BJCP style guidelines. These categories are for beers that have had their base style transformed by the addition of one of the following ingredients or processes:

  • Yeast/bacteria adding souring or funky characteristics
  • Smoked Ingredients
  • Wood Aging
  • Fruit
  • Spices, Herbs or Vegetables
  • Alternative Grains and Sugars

If you've brewed a beer containing one or more of the above then it can be difficult to know which category to enter your beer into, so here is a guide to doing so.

Taste your beer

Before you start, taste the beer yourself and be honest with what you can perceive. If you can't perceive a particular ingredient then it's unlikely the judge will either.

Find the right fit

Thinking about what you've perceived in the beer, find the best fit for your beer. One way to do this is to look from the top down through this list and stop on the first one that matches something in your beer:

Perceived Feature Category to Look At
Yeast/bacteria adding souring or funky characteristics 28. American Wild Ale
Smoke 32. Smoked Beer
Wood Aging 33. Wood Beer
Fruit 29. Fruit Beer
Spices, Herbs or Vegetables 30. Spiced Beer
Alternative Grains and Sugars 31. Alternative Fermentables Beer

You should be able to find a style within the category that your beer fits in well.

Provide a description

When entering the beer you will be asked to provide a description of the beer. This will be given to the judges to help guide them as to what they are looking for in your beer.

Describe what is the base style of the beer and what the additional ingredients are that you can perceive in the beer. If you can't perceive it then don't mention it.

For the base style it can help to refer to one of the BJCP styles in categories 1 to 27, but it's not necessary, particularly if your beer doesn't fit one of those styles.

Example: "Smoked baltic porter aged on sour cherries"

Don't panic

At the end of the day, many of the Specialty styles will get judged together and judges will provide quite a lot of latitude for these kinds of beer. They are primarily judged on whether the beer is technically well made and enjoyable rather than strict accuracy to style, so just find the best fit you can for your beer and enter it there.