Into what BJCP category should I enter this beer for competition? I think I have to enter it in 21A - spice, herb, or vegetable beer - due to the use of cacao nibs, coffee, and bourbon. The underlying style, I think, is either 13C - Oatmeal Stout - or 13f - Russian Imperial Stout. It is an oatmeal stout, but the OG was 1.080, which is too high for 13C. Can I enter this into one of the stout categories, or does it have to go into one of the specialty categories (21 or 23)? I based the recipe on a clone of Founder's Breakfast Stout I found online. That commercial beer is listed as an example of style 21A.


  • 14 lb US 2-row
  • 1 lb 6 oz flaked oats
  • 1 lb chocolate malt
  • 12 oz roasted barley
  • 9 oz black patent
  • 7 oz crystal 120

Mash at 154 for 60 minutes. Boil for 60 minutes.

  • 1 oz Nugget @ 60 min.
  • 0.5 oz Mt. Hood @ 30 min.
  • 0.5 oz Mt. Hood @ 0 min.

Final SG: 1.020

Two weeks in secondary with 1 pint cold-brewed Sumatra coffee and eight ounces raw cracked cacao nibs soaked in 1 cup Maker's Mark. I calculate the bourbon added 0.5% abv to the beer, assuming it was all released from the cacao nibs.

2 Answers 2


Chocolate stouts and coffee stouts usually fit into 21A (Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer). You'll notice Bell's Java Stout and Rogue Chocolate Stout are listed as commercial examples of style 21A. If the whiskey is noticeable, it might nudge you outside of category 21 and into 23 (Specialty Beer). The most dominant flavor will determine which style best describes your beer.

As a general rule, you'll have a better chance in competitions by avoiding style 23, since it's so broad, but as Denny mentioned, you may be able to enter both categories.

And as a sidenote, if oak or other wood had been the medium for introducing the Maker's Mark, you'd also be looking at a possible entry for 22C (Wood-Aged Beer).

  • The bourbon isn't really noticeable at all. I used it to sanitize the nibs, figuring it would offer a hint more interest than vodka would. The coffee is the most noticeable flavorant, followed by the chocolate, which is very restrained.
    – JackSmith
    Commented Mar 6, 2011 at 15:19

If you read the guidelines for a stout, there's no mention of bourbon or coffee flavors, so you shouldn't enter it on that category. It would belong in 21 or 23. Depending on the rules of the comp you might be able to enter it in both. Always enter a beer as what it tastes like.

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