Alpha Hop Trial: Belma

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Alpha Hop Trial: Belma

Post by seymour » Fri Nov 14, 2014 10:39 pm

As conscientous brewers, it's essential for us to sample beers brewed with a single hop variety. There is no better way to educate our palate to each hop's unique bitterness, flavour, and aroma traits. Obviously, different hops behave differently in different beer. Noted author Stan Hieronymous reminds us that when we isomerize hops in boiling wort, we set in motion complex chemical reactions which continue into the fermentation stage. It's easy to forget hops are in fact a fermentable ingredient. This is why we cannot get a full understanding of what hops will bring to finished beer by simply smelling a handful of hops, making quick-and-easy hop teas, or even dry-hopping alone. If we take a moment to record our thoughts about each hop, we can more effectively blend our favourite traits from different hop varieties into a winning recipe of our own design.

With so many different hops available these days, it's impossible for each homebrewer to brew all of them single-handedly. Jim's Beer Kit is a great place to read what worked for other homebrewers, but it's especially handy when commercial brewers do this "dirty-work" for us. I taste every single-hop beer I can find, and post ratings to Ratebeer, which serves as a handy online resource whenever I need to remember my impressions of a certain hop. It occured to me these thoughts might benefit other nerdy homebrewers on this forum too.

Disclaimer: these are my own subjective opinionated conclusions, based on just one sample, at one specific moment in time. I am frequently surprised by how much another brewer's results differ, even using the same single hop variety. Your mileage may vary, and I certainly don't think my taste buds are superior to anyone else's.

Commercial Description: Next in our series of single-hop IPAs, featuring new US variety Belma. Much more subtle and noble than most New World hops, this one emphasizes clean bitterness with faint grassy, flowery, and herbal notes.
From my Ratebeer rating
Aroma: 7 out of 10, Appearance: 3 out of 5, Taste: 7 out of 10 , Palate: 3 out of 5, Overall: 14 out of 20

Total Score: 3.4 out of 5

Sampled at their tap room. It poured a slightly hazy golden colour with weak white foam. I’m not a member of the majority kick-me-in-the-face-with-crazy-hoppy-IPA party, so bear that in mind. But I really like this low-key Belma hop. Pleasant but mellow, allowing more malt complexity to shine through, yet still has that snappy dry finish of a well-executed strong IPA. Probably too nuanced to be a huge crowd-pleaser, but this is a good hop in a good beer. UPDATE: Tasted again with more dry-hops and conditioning at the 2014 St. Louis Brewers Guild Harvest Fest. Still subtle and still very good. Nice green-hop essence: green tea, grass, flowers, faint black pepper, perfumey alcohol, honey...

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Re: Alpha Hop Trial: Belma

Post by DeadFall » Sat Nov 15, 2014 12:36 am

One of the best kit adaptations I ever did was with belma, it was a coopers apa kit with loads of extra DME, some steeped crystal and quite a bit of belma + some cascade.. I haven't seen it around for a while in the UK though. I'd love to try and recreate that recipe as an AG beer.
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