Brew Dudes

Homebrewing blog and resource

Comet Hops Profile and Analysis – SMaSH Brew

In case you saw Comet hops on the shelf in your local homebrew store or if you saw them on a product page in your favorite homebrew supply website and you didn’t think the descriptors helped you out enough, well, you’re in the right place now.

We brewed a one gallon SMaSH (single malt and single hop) beer to understand this variety better. Take a look at this video to see how we describe the Comet hop aroma and flavor profile:

Comet Hops Aroma and Flavor

A little history about Comet hops before we get started. This variety predates the craft beer revolution in the USA as it was selected for breeding in 1961 and released commercially in 1974. It grew well in the Yakima Valley of Washington State but as the 1980s came along as well as super alpha acid hops, the commercial growing of Comet hops stopped. But as hop demand grew, the variety had a comeback and is now available again.

As for our notes, Mike got a peachy, Cascade aroma off the top. He likes the words ‘fleshy fruit’ to describe aromas and I think that paints a nice picture in your mind to help you with the aroma. When he said, “Cascade”, my first thought is the smell of grapefruit since that is the signature aspect of that hop.

He said the flavor didn’t live up to the aroma. It was more subtle than he was expecting. He got a bitter cucumber skin flavor after he tasted it. He elaborating with descriptors of pine and resin.

My big revelation with this hop was grapefruit rind. When I first tasted this beer, I was brought back to my family’s kitchen table where we would eat halves of grapefruit and the skin and the pith were a big part of that eating experience. That bitter grapefruit taste is what I got out the beer Comet SMaSH beer.

Where To Use Comet Hops

Make no mistake, Comet hops are an American variety and have the characteristics that come with hops that are grown in the USA: citrusy and piney.

Even though they are known as Citra’s little sister, I think they would work well to complement that hop or Amarillo. I think the bitter citrusy flavors that this hop brings would help shape more “sweet” fruit flavors of other hops.

Since it is listed as a bittering hop, you could try to switch it out and use it in place of Columbus, for instance or as a stand alone hop in a wheat beer. I think either of these applications would work too.

Thanks for reading. Hope you try Comet hops soon. Brew on!

Starting Off 2018 Right And Setting Some Goals

The calendar flipped over from 2017 to 2018 and we recall all the things we did in the past year to set a course for the new one. We talk about all the achievements and the failures and figure out what we would like to do for the next twelve months on the blog and on the YouTube channel. This video has us blubbering about the year that was and what you can expect from us in the near future.

What Happened in 2017

  1. We put together our first community brew and we’re happy to say that was a success. My version of the Brew Dudes Best Bitter won a first place prize in a competition.
  2. Because we could, we streamed videos live on YouTube and we had a good time with it. The immediacy of chatting with people who watch our videos regularly was pretty cool.
  3. The first attempt at a homebrewed gueuze was completed. More than three years of effort went into the creation of this beer and it turned out well. It was really something to have it come together after all that time.

2018 Goals

  1. We plan to put another community brew together.
  2. Maybe we’ll figure out a Google Hangout or something.
  3. I have to tackle a Pilsner that I am happy with. I think the biggest fail I had in 2017 was the Pilsner so getting one done right for 2018 is a goal.
  4. Mike wants to nail a Brown ale. There is a beer in his head that he wants to brew. He knows what it looks like and tastes like. This year, he has to make it materialize through recipe formulation and brewing technique.
  5. More hop exploration. Certainly, we will have more SMaSH beers to review but maybe some videos to show off how to hop post boil.
  6. Malt exploration. Brew up beers to see what different malts taste like and how to use them in recipes.

Thanks for reading and following us on our homebrewing exploits. If we have accomplish most of these goals this year, we’ll chalk it up as a good year.

Brew on!

Brew Dudes Homebrew Swap – Exchange #23

We put out a call to other homebrewers to send their beers to us for evaluation and review. Since then, we have had many different beers sent our way. This one is number twenty three of the ongoing series of homebrew swaps. We tasted this Russian Imperial Stout from Brian in Texas and posted our thoughts on YouTube:

Zorya Russian Imperial Stout Recipe

Brian’s home brewery is named Big Paw Brewery and he’s been brewing this RIS for a few years now. He brewed two different versions of his 2017 batch. Here are the details of the beers:

10 gallon batch – split into two and aged separately on two different kinds of oak.

Original Gravity: 1.094
Final Gravity of the Hungarian Oak version: 1.019
Final Gravity of the American Oak version: 1.017

IBUs ~70

80% Maris Otter Malt
4% Special B Malt
4% Flaked Barley
3% Carafa III
2% Aromatic Malt
2% Crystal 40°L Malt
2% Roasted Barley
1% Black Patent Malt
1% Crystal 120°L Malt
1% Chocolate Malt

Added Styrian Golding, Perle, and Magnum hops at 75 minutes to go in the boil for 64 IBUs
Added Centennial, Styrian Golding, Williamette, and Palisade hops in whirlpool after the boil for 10 minutes for 6 IBUs.

Yeast: White Labs WLP001 California Yeast – fermented for 1 month

For fermentation, he split the batch into two different vessels. In the last 14 days of primary fermentation, he added to each of the vessels 1 ounce of medium toast Hungarian Oak cubes that had been soaking in 12 ounces of Port wine for 3 weeks (he added the wine along with it).

At the end of primary fermentation, he racked the beers into two different kegs and oaked them again for 1 month. The first beer had more medium toast Hungarian oak (1 ounce) and the second one had American oak (1 ounce).

He removed the oak and let both beers condition for an additional 10 months at 55° F and bottled it from the keg.

Beer Feedback and Thoughts

Let’s split the notes into two sections.

Hungarian Oak: Had a slightly darker head. More port wine in the aroma. Big mouthfeel but not as slick as its counterpart. More port character in this beer’s flavor.

American Oak: More roasted/chocolate malt aroma. There was a fuller, slicker, chewier mouthfeel in this beer. More vanilla notes in the flavor. More character from the malt bill.

Both beers hit the mark when we compared it to the BJCP style guidelines. The flavor was complex and intense. Our biggest suggestion was to simplify the recipe to focus the flavors on what he wanted to accomplish in the final beer.

The best thing about brewing the same recipe over and over again is the ability to modify and improve over time. That’s what it is all about and why we say…

Brew On!

Tasting An Aged Braggot – Did It Improve?

It is true that some beer does get better with age. When I brewed this braggot three years ago, I thought I had a winner but the end result was a little strange and deemed “yucky”. In this video, we harken back to a time where beer and mead hybrids were brewed with no clue about how they would turn out and if years of storage would elevate the braggot to be something worth tasting.

This Braggot’s History

I was inspired by Nelson Sauvin hops because they are supposed to have white wine flavors and aromas. I thought I could brew a braggot that used light-colored honey, light-colored malt, white wine yeast, and Nelson Sauvin hops and it would be a tasty little Riesling type beverage.

My brew date was in December 2014 and we tasted it for the first time in May of 2015. Since then, a few bottles have been sitting in my basement to age with the hope that the braggot would improve.

Notes on How The Braggot Tasted This Time

It was a fascinating experience to taste this braggot. Mike said the aroma had a grapeseed oil aspect and it seemed like it had white table wine essence.

It had a grape-y, honey finish and the body was some legs to it.

Did it improve? Well, it certainly had changed. The honey fermentation characteristics have taken over fully. There isn’t much beer aspects to it. If I were to brew this again, I would shift the percentages of fermenatables to be more malt-derived than honey-derived.

All in all, we challenged our palate and appreciated what this beverage allowed us to do, which was to refine our palette even more.

I still have a bottle or two left in my basement. Let’s see how it tastes in a few years. See you again in 2020.

Brew On!

Classic American Cream Ale – An Old Favorite

Brew Dude Mike has brewed a cream ale many times over the past (almost) 20 years. He goes back to his standard recipe and plays around with the water chemistry to make a crisp, refreshing beer. If you have never heard of this style and want to brew an ale with the thirst quenching qualities of a pale lager, view this video of our review of Mike’s latest brew: a classic American Cream Ale:

Mike’s Classic American Cream Ale recipe

Mike tinkered with special ingredients in his most recently brewed cream ales. For this one, he went back to classic ingredients to brew a quality, classic version.

Grain Bill:
8 pounds of American Pilsner malt
2.25 pounds flaked corn (maize)
1 pound of white sugar

1 ounce of Liberty hops (4.5 AA%) at 60 minutes to go in the boil
1 ounce of Liberty hops at 20 minutes to go in the boil
1 ounce of Liberty hops at flameout

1 packet of US-05 (rehydrated)

Distilled water with these additions added to the mash
4 grams of gypsum
3 grams of calcium chloride

The starting gravity was 1.052

Notes On This Beer and Style

Initially, I was a little down on this beer. Mike has used Liberty hops in his past Cream Ales and I was looking for that flavor in the beer. Because he used distilled water and added brewing ales, the hops didn’t express themselves as brightly as they had in previous brews so I was disappointed at first.

Once we started talking about the style and what we really want in this type of beer, Mike hit all the notes perfectly. His major goal was to get the beer to finish dry and crisp and he accomplished what he set out to do.
I think the flaked maize and the sugar help to dry out the finish and the water he used kept the body light and taste crisp, even if it did mute the hop flavor.

Cream ales are a great alternative to homebrewers who do not have the equipment to brew pale lagers. The style was born out of the necessity for ale-only breweries to compete with the newly popular pilsner beers that were being brewed commercially. If you are looking for a crisp, refreshing summer beer that will please the party crowd (large and small), take a chance on a cream ale.

Brew on!

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