Wednesday 13 November 2013

Tasting : Belmade Pale Ale (APA with Belma and Cascade)

I have a lot of homebrew tasting notes to get caught up on, so you'll have to excuse a potential flurry of posts; actually, this isn't really a bad thing since I've been pretty terrible at posting in general, lately.

This beer is the American Pale Ale I brewed in September, which I hopped with equal amounts of Cascade and Belma hop pellets. Except for a very small bittering addition, most of the hops were added at flameout (3 oz each) and in the dry-hop (1.25 oz each). I wasn't completely sure what to expect, but was ultimately aiming for a medium-strength, medium-bodied APA with a good amount of fruity hop presence in the aroma and flavor.

For the most part, I think I hit that goal. More details below, but the beer is definitely fruity and citrusy. What the beer definitely could use more of is bitterness; in hindsight, I should have either let the hops steep longer than I did, or maybe thrown in a 10-minute addition to up the IBUs a bit. You CAN get IBUs from flameout additions, but you have to add a lot of hops, and I guess make sure to let them steep long enough. How long, exactly? Well, I still haven't found anything concrete that says "x" amount of minutes with "y" amount of hops gives you "z" amount of IBUs. Maybe a good blog post for the future...

Still, it's definitely a tasty APA, and at 5% ABV (along with a low-perceived bitterness) makes for some easy-drinking.

Appearance: Pours with a moderate-sized, slightly off-white head that shows pretty good retention. Fades to 1/4-finger. Body is golden with really good clarity.

Aroma: Definitely getting some of that now-expected Belma character... strawberries, and some citrus fruit from the Cascade. A touch of malt sweetness, but the hops dominate.

Taste: Similar to the aroma, big hop flavor of strawberries and citrus. The beer finishes nicely balanced, tilting towards the dry side. Medium-low bitterness, needs to be higher. No flaws detected.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, medium carbonation. Smooth.

Overall: Nice APA; I'd consider brewing it again if I had a lot of Belma on hand sometime, but as mentioned, I'd either steep the flameout hops longer, or more likely add maybe 0.5-1 oz of Belma and Cascade at 10 or 5 minutes.


  1. at least belma is cheap. The reaction I'm hearing, and I've still got my whole belma lb sitting in my freezer, is that it's an ok hop. Nothing special, nothing terrible, and that you won't be wowed by it.
    The bitterness is something that would be easy to fix like you said.
    Eitherway, sounds like a solid base recipe to try hops with.

    1. Exactly... good, but not great. And it WAS cheap... I can't remember specifically, but something like 5 bucks for a pound? I certainly wouldn't rush out to buy it again; there's a lot of other varieties I'd prefer to use.

  2. Good to hear (for the purposes of my sanity) that you're getting the strawberry notes in Belma too. Definitely not a hop to blow up an imperial IPA with, but for softer, more accessible beers, it's still something I'd use again. Especially if it stays cheap.

    1. I agree; it never crossed my mind till you mentioned it, but no, I'm not sure if it be a great hop to feature in an Imperial IPA. I'm sure you could use it with some other varieties, but I definitely wouldn't use it in large quantities for that style of beer.

      The more I drink this APA, the more the "softness" of it (combined with Cascade) strikes me. Definitely a good recipe to use for beer drinkers who haven't quite embraced the really hoppy beer yet.