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Overall Impression: A pleasant integration of fruit with beer, but still recognizable as beer. The fruit character should be evident but in balance with the beer, not so forward as to suggest an artificial product.
Aroma: Varies by base style. The fruit character should be noticeable in the aroma; however, some fruit (e.g., raspberries, cherries) have stronger aromas and are more distinctive than others (e.g., blueberries, strawberries) – allow for a range of fruit character and intensities from subtle to aggressive. Hop aroma may be lower than in the base style to better show the fruit character. The fruit should add an extra complexity, but not be so prominent as to unbalance the resulting presentation.
Appearance: Varies by base style and special ingredients. Lighter-colored beer should show distinctive ingredient colors, including in the head. The color of fruit in beer is often lighter than the flesh of the fruit itself and may take on slightly different shades. Variable clarity, although haze is generally undesirable. Some ingredients may impact head retention.
Flavor: Varies by base style. As with aroma, distinctive fruit flavors should be noticeable, and may range in intensity from subtle to aggressive, but the fruit character should not be so artificial or inappropriately overpowering as to suggest a ‘fruit juice drink.’ Bitterness, hop and malt flavors, alcohol content, and fermentation byproducts, such as esters, should be appropriate for the base style, but be harmonious and balanced with the distinctive fruit flavors present. Fruit generally adds flavor not sweetness, since fruit sugars usually fully ferment, thus lightening the flavor and drying out the finish. However, residual sweetness is not necessarily a negative characteristic unless it has a raw, unfermented quality. Some fruit may add sourness, bitterness, and tannins, which must be balanced in the resulting flavor profile.
Mouthfeel: Varies by base style. Fruit often decreases body, and makes the beer seem lighter on the palate. Some smaller and darker fruits may add a tannic depth, but this astringency should not overwhelm the base beer.
Comments: The fruit should complement the original style and not overwhelm it. Base style attributes will be different after the addition of fruit; do not expect the beer to taste identical to the unadulterated base style. Fruit Beers based on a Classic Style should be entered in this style, except Lambic – there is a special style for Fruit Lambic. Fruited sour or mixed fermentation beers without a Classic Style base should be entered in the Wild Specialty Beer. Fruited versions of sour Classic Style beers (e.g., Flanders Red, Oud Bruin, Gose, Berliner Weisse) should be entered in Fruit Beer. Fruit-based versions of Classic Styles where spices are an inherent part of the Classic Style’s definition (e.g., Witbier, Gose) do not count as a Spice Beer for entering purposes.
Commercial Examples: 21st Amendment Watermelon Wheat, Anderson Valley Blood Orange Gose, Avery Liliko’i Kepolo, Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin, Bell’s Cherry Stout, Founders Rübæus