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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Modern American craft beer interpretations of Belgian wild ales, or experimentations inspired by Belgian wild ales.
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.
Like a fruit, herb, spice, or wood beer, but sour and/or funky.