The next in our line of single hop series is the Comet IPA.
Comet hops have been around since the 1970’s and are a cross-breed of British and wild American hops. At the time they were bred for higher Alpha Acid content, allowing for less hops to be used during the boil whie retaining the same amount of bitterness. Alpha acids are chemical compounds found in the oils of hops that produce units of bitterness through isomerization by heat. Isomerized alpha acids contain anti-bacterial properties that help to preserve beer from common infections such as lactic acid bacter and Pediococcus, which will sour if left unchecked. Hops serve the dual function of bittering and preservation agent in beer and have become a necessary ingredient as beers travel farther and have need to be kept longer.
Many brewers at the time found the flavors and aromas of Comet hops objectionable. Flavor aromas such as citrus, herbal and earthy elements, and marijuana all distracted from the clean lager tastes favored at the time. With the American takeover of the brewing world, newer hop flavors have been introduced and gained popularity in the beer market.
These days you can hardly find an IPA without one of the adjectives listed above. Many tout the prominent citrus presence or tropical notes of the new age hops that have been released in the past few years. Others come with description such as strawberry, lychee, and lignon berries, odd new combinations that will have to stand up with malt and yeast interaction. Comet has several decades on these new hops and has started to re-emerge again, after nearly being cut completely from being grown. It found its reemergence in homebrew shops and has begun to be found at a professional level as more and more homebrewers turn professional and bring their knowledge with them. Something old and new simultaneously. Riddled and riddled again.