Hops A-Z: C is for Cascade, Chinook and Centennial

The 3 C's have been billed at the US 'holy trinity' of hops. They're assertive beasts used by assertive brewers, albeit sometimes in eye-watering amounts. So what's the attraction?

Cascade is the grand-daddy of the trio. Released for cultivation in 1972 but first bred in 1956, it started as a cross between a female Fuggles hop and a male Fuggles hop with Russian Serebrianker hop parentage. With low-medium alpha acid, it's as versatile as its parents when it comes to adding both aroma and bitterness to beer. With a flowery nose and feel, it can border on being perfumed with a keen hint of spice whilst remaining solidly citric. No wonder it's often quoted as being the most widely-used hop in the United States.

Chinook was released in the mid 1980's having been derived from "Petham Golding with a USDA 63012 male". I'm assuming that makes it a Golding hop cross? Anyhow, the higher alpha acid content makes for more intense bitterness (some may say course) alongside a herbal, almost tobacco-ish aroma and flavour.

Centennial is the quasi-baby of the bunch, released in 1990 although it was first bred back in 1974. Profiled as being descended mainly from Brewers Gold but with a sixteenth of its gene from a 'unknown' hop, it sits between the others in terms of alpha acid content. With a floral profile and still-solid citrics, it's been described as 'Super Cascade' and has become increasingly popular in the States as both its aroma and bittering qualities. Not bad for a hop that was once going to be destroyed due to lack of brewer interest.

So that's an aromatic hop derived from Fuggles, a bittering hop derived from Goldings and a dual-use hop derived from Northern Brewer. Resolutely citric across the range along with subtler flavours and aromas. Their popularity in bold beer making is obvious, especially in dry-hopping to maximise those aromas. If you've ever sniffed Sierra Nevada Celebration or Bigfoot, you know what a heady mix these hops have to offer.

British brewers are using these hops more and more, particularly for dry-hopping. I'd like to see them used smarter; not just obvious citric bludgeoning but inventive and subtle applications. Perhaps Chinook into darker/redder beers to bring wafts of fresh tobacco. Perhaps Centennial into milds to give a fresh, biting feel. Perhaps classic Fuggles/Goldings best bitter recipes recreated with Cascade/Chinook. Perhaps they're already out there. If you find them, let me know. And send a bottle, natch ;-)


  1. Who said chinook smells of tobacco? pure grapefruit more like!!

    And i'm sure you're just cut&pasting this off the net... ;-)

    I've always wanted to know more about serebrianker, very little info around apart from it being called "un-brewable with neat". pah, I'll show you!!

  2. Suppose it depends how herbal your smokes are ;-)

    I certainly think Chinook crosses over into the aromatic prickle of fresh rolling tobacco, moreso when it's used in dry hopping.

    And I'd have cut and pasted out of Wikipedia but then you'd just have 26 articles that all say "Hops! Fuck YEAH!!!"...

  3. "I certainly think Chinook crosses over into the aromatic prickle of fresh rolling tobacco, moreso when it's used in dry hopping."

    We'll disagree on that one then!!!!

  4. we now have 5kg of Chinook to our name, so you'll have to get yourself up here and see what we can do with them!

    I'm definitely with Gazza on this one though...