For our October meeting, my homebrew club decided to do a hop comparison test, with members brewing the same grain bill and different hops. At a recent homebrew festival, I had sampled an IPA with Comet hops, and rather liked it. My choice of hop was decided!
Comet Pale Ale
- 10.5 lb. 2-row premium malt (Great Western)
- 0.5 oz. Caravienne malt
- 0.25 oz. crystal 20 malt (Briess)
- 1 oz. Comet hop pellets (8.2% alpha), 60 minute boil
- 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
- 2 oz. Comet hop pellets (8.2% alpha), 10 minute whirlpool
- 1 pkg. Safale American ale yeast (US-05)
- 3 oz. Comet hop pellets (8.2% alpha), 5 day dry-hop
- 1.052 s.g, 1.012 f.g., 5.3% abv, 41 IBU, 6 SRM
- Infusion mash, full volume
- Claremont tap water
- I mashed in with 7.5 gallons of Claremont tap water at 159°, to hit a 152.8° mash temperature. This was a full-volume mash.
- After 45 minutes, I vorlaufed and collected 6.3 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.041, for 63.4% mash efficiency. This was a bit lower than I had expected even for a no-sparge recipe.
- I boiled for 60 minutes, adding hops and kettle finings at the indicated times.
- After flame-out, I added the whirlpool hops and let them ride for 10 minutes.
- Starting gravity was 1.048; this is definitely below my target, but not terribly unsurprising given the low efficiency. I did an adjustment of my grain mill after this, and found that the gap had wandered a bit wide since I last set it.
- I brewed this beer on 5 October 2019, and pitched the yeast immediately. Fermentation temperature is set at 68°.
- After five days of fermentation, I added the dry hops on 10 October 2019, and cold crashed the beer on 13 October 2019. I kegged the beer on 15 October 2019, using a modified closed transfer. I purged the keg with CO2, and siphoned the beer in via the out port of the keg.
- This is one of the fastest turnarounds I’ve ever done for a beer, with 12 days between brewing and the tasting at our club meeting. The beer cleared up surprisingly well, and was well received by my fellow homebrewers. I normally like to have a bit more time in my brewing process (it’s a hobby after all), but the challenge of producing a beer in limited time was a fun one.
- Final gravity was 1.008, for 5.0% abv.
- Light gold, clear but not brilliant; persistent white and fine head
- Strong citrus aroma, sometimes with a whiff of resiney goodness.
- Grapefruity/orangey citrus and grapefruit pith at the forefront, with a touch of pine behind that, for the hops. Bitterness is fairly prominent, perhaps just a bit too much so. There’s not much in the way of malt flavor for this one. It’s pretty clean, inoffensive, and squarely in the background.
- Fairly light-bodied, moderately high carbonation. The finish is pretty dry, and there is a touch of astringency that detracts a little from the beer.
- Would I brew this again?
- I don’t think I would brew with the particular grain bill again (it’s just a little too lacking in malt character, which is fine for this experiment but not ), but I’m definitely going to be giving Comet more attention in the future. It doesn’t taste like a hop from 1974 (when it was released by the USDA)–it just as plausibly could be from 2014! It works pretty well in a single hop situation, and I bet would be really nice if paired up with Simcoe or Cascade. Some places I read referred to Comet as “Citra’s Little Sibling,” and I definitely can see that. Comet has a very prominent citrus character in the same vein as that of Citra; the main difference is that Comet has a bit of resiney harshness, where Citra is pretty smooth (to my palate). In the future, I might cut back the dry-hopping amount, or perhaps let it sit for 2 days instead of 3. I would also swap out the bittering addition of Comet for Magnum or another high alpha hop.
- 6.5/10. The main deductions are for the relatively “boring” malt character, and the slight harshness on the hopping backend.
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