In 2010, a British brewer named John Bryan discovered hops growing up the side of a shed on Puterbaugh Farm in Washington’s Yakima valley. It turned out to be a new variety of hops known today as Belma hops. By now, several brewers have taken a shot at brewing with the new variety. For example, the Matt Brewing Company (Saranac) released a pilsner, Wild Hop Pils, using the Belma hop in their summer mix pack.
The Wild Hop Pils pours a pale straw color and very clear. There’s a big, fluffy white head which fizzles out, but slowly. It leaves good lacing down the side of the glass. Overall the beer is light bodied and fairly mild, but the hops do take charge – they’re what’s on display after all. The Belma hop seems like a milder cousin of some more famous Washington hops. There’s a definite grapefruit tang, but it’s not overpowering, like in the Citra hop for example. There are also some floral notes and some other juicy fruit flavors (this description suggests melon). The malt here is crisp and clean like you would expect from a pilsner. It’s got a slightly toasty, grainy, dry taste like crackers, with a little white bread sweetness in the finish. The light malt body let's the hops shine, and combines with the juicy hops to make you want one sip after another.
If you can still get your hands on this summer brew, it’s well worth a try to experience this new hop variety. Otherwise, be on the lookout for other Belma beers, or brew your own.
[In the interest of full disclosure, the author of this piece is friend to a member of the Matt family of the Matt Brewing Company.]