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AHA Guideline

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Specialty Beer

Specialty Beers are very light to black depending on the underlying style. Clear or hazy beer is acceptable in appearance. Specialty Beers are brewed with unusual fermentable sugars, grains and/or starches other than or in addition to malted barley, which contribute to alcohol content. For example, maple syrup or potatoes are considered unusual. Rice, corn, or wheat are not considered unusual. The distinctive characters of these special ingredients should be evident in the aroma, flavor and/or overall balance of the beer, but not necessarily in overpowering quantities. Malt sweetness will vary dramatically depending on overall balance desired. Hop bitterness is very low to very high, and may be used for highlighting desired characters. Nuts generally have some degree of fermentables, thus a beer brewed with nuts would be appropriately considered as a Specialty Beer. A beer brewed with honey would most appropriately be considered as a Honey Beer. Beer brewed with roots, seeds, flowers etc. and which exhibit herbal and/or spicy characters would be appropriately considered as Herb and Spice Beer. Examples might include a chili-flavored beer that emphasize heat rather than chili flavor, or a juniper berry beer in which juniper berry characters are expressed more as herbal or spice quality than as berry fruity character. While beers brewed with fruits or vegetables may derive fermentable carbohydrate from those sources, such beers which exhibit fruit or vegetable qualities would most appropriately be considered as fruit or field beers. Body is variable with style. Special ingredients must be listed when competing. A statement by the brewer explaining the special nature of the beer, ingredient(s) and achieved character is essential in order for fair assessment in competitions. If this beer is a classic style with some specialty ingredient(s), the brewer should also specify the classic style. Guidelines for competing: Spiced beers using unusual fermentables should be entered in the experimental category. Beers brewed with unusual fermentables as well as fruit should be entered in the fruit beer category.


  • Original Gravity (°Plato) 1.030 - 1.140+ (7.6 - 32.1+)
  • Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato) 1.006 - 1.030+ (1.5 - 7.5+)
  • Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 2.00% - 20+% (2.50% - 25+%)
  • Bitterness (IBU) (1 - 100)
  • Color SRM (EBC) 1 - 100 (2 - 200)