Centennial Hops Guide

Centennial Hops Guide: Everything You Need to Know

Centennial Hops is an exquisite variety of hops that originated in a laboratory at Washington State University. Due to its similar citric quality, it is often referred to as a “Super Cascade” hop. Centennial Hops are dual-purpose and expertly balanced and offer versatility with bold, intense aromas and tastes. Lovely aromas of floral, earthy pine and citrus zest are complemented by floral, grapefruit, and citrus taste. Additionally, they offer high levels of hop bitterness and are ideal for dry-hopping. Welcome to our Centennial Hops Guide.

Pros and Cons of Centennial Hops

Pros

  • Excellent combination of East Kent Golding, Fuggle, Bavarian, and Brewer’s Gold hops
  • Extremely versatile hop
  • Fresh tastes of floral, grapefruit, and citrus
  • Lovely aromas of floral, earthy pine, and citrus zest
  • High levels of hop bitterness
  • Ideal for dry-hopping

Cons

  • This hop variety excels in all categories; therefore I cannot find a suitable con at this time

History of Centennial Hops

Centennial

The Centennial Hop was first created in 1974, and it is an outstanding union of East Kent Golding, Fuggle, Bavarian, and Brewer’s Gold hops. This unique hop is the brainchild of Charles (Chuck) Zimmerman and S.T. Kenny and was developed in a laboratory at Washington State University.

Although it was created in 1974, it was only sixteen years later, in 1990, that this exceptional Quattro hybrid became available to the public. Since then, it has become one of the most popular hops on the market, particularly with craft breweries, microbreweries, and homebrewers.

Acid and Oil Composition

Acid Composition:

  • Co-Humulone: 28%-30%
  • Alpha Acid: 9.5%-11.5%
  • Beta Acid: 3.5%-4.5%

Oil Composition:

  • Farnesene Oil: 0%-1%
  • Caryophyllene Oil: 5%-8%
  • Humulene Oil: 10%-18%
  • Myrcene Oil: 45%-55%
  • Total Oil Composition: 1.5-2.5ml per 100 grams

General Characteristics of Centennial Hops

Centennial hops

  • What climate is best? Not only is this a versatile hop, but it is also hardy, and it can be cultivated in most climates. Most hop varieties require at least six to eight hours of sunlight each day and should be grown in well-drained soil.
  • When do they mature? This hop variety matures mid-season.
  • What is the growth rate? Centennial hops are notorious for a neat and moderate growth rate; the average growing season for most hop varieties is 120 days.
  • Cones. Centennial hops offer gorgeous cones that are aromatic, dense, and medium-sized.
  • How much do they yield? Centennial hops offer a good yield and can be considered to be above average at 1500-1750 kg/hectare (1330-1560 lbs/acre)
  • Are they difficult to harvest? Centennial hops grow in such a way that they are easy to harvest, and this can be done without any difficulty.
  • Storage Capabilities? Centennial hops offer modest storage capabilities. After 6 months of storage at 20 degrees Celsius, you can expect an alpha acid loss of 40% -50%.
  • Are they resistant to Disease? Centennial hops are resistant to most diseases, including verticillium wilt and powdery mildew.
  • What diseases are they susceptible to? Although robust and hardy, it is vulnerable to the Hop Mosaic Virus (HMV). The Hop Mosaic Virus (HMV) is one of three carlavirus and is most likely to cause crop damage.
  • What do they smell like? Centennial Hops offer lovely fresh aromas of floral, earthy pine, and citrus zest. The aromas are similar to that of the Cascade hop, with stronger tastes of floral.
  • What are they used for? Centennial Hops are versatile and are utilized for their fresh aromas, tastes, and bittering qualities. Aromas of floral, earthy pine, and citrus zest are beautifully complemented by tastes of floral, grapefruit, and fresh citrus. Additionally, Centennial hops are high in Isoalpha acids; these acids are not extremely dissolvable and are responsible for the high levels of bitterness in the beer.

Centennial hops 1

How to grow Centennial hops

Centennial hops are unique because homebrewers and newcomers to the wonderful world of brewing can purchase Centennial rhizomes and grow them on their own. If you are interested in purchasing rhizomes, you must converse with the local brewing shops, as well as other local growers, to find out if Centennial hops can grow in your region, and if any additional hop varieties thrive in your region.

Planting Centennial Hops

Centennial hops can be grown in a container, pot, or directly in the ground. If you are using a container or pot, ensure there is sufficient space for the roots to continue to grow. Where possible, use organic soil to ensure your hops are packed with natural goodness. It is important to note that well-drained soil and good drainage are vital for a healthy crop. This hop variety performs well in full sun and requires at least six to eight hours of sunlight each day.

Caring for Centennial Hops

Once your vines begin to grow, they will need support; place a trellis or wooden stakes around the plant in a triangular shape. Like any plant, they need to be watered regularly but don’t overdo it. Around 1.5” of water per week is sufficient, with a drip irrigation system being the most effective way to water. Try to avoid sprinkler systems if possible, as wet foliage can lead to rapid disease formation.

Centennial Hop Alternatives

Columbus

Below are five quality alternatives to Centennial hops:

  • Columbus: The Columbus hop has high levels of alpha acid, and although it is usually used as a bittering hop, it does deliver a bold and intense hop aroma. It offers bold aromas of black pepper, licorice, resin, spice, and earth. The Columbus hop is a half-sister to the Nugget hop variety and is commonly referred to as CTZ. CTZ is a trio of hops that offer similar characteristics and includes Zeus and Tomahawk hops. The Columbus hop is robust and has a high resistance to disease and powdery mildew.
  • Galena: The Galena hop was created in 1968 by the USDA Breeding Program in Idaho. It was released to the public in 1978 and has since become one of the most popular hop choices amongst local brewers. A cross between Brewers Gold and open pollination, it offers wonderful aromas of lime, grapefruit, pineapple, sweet fruits, gooseberry, black-current, and earthy wood.
  • Zeus: The Zeus hop was developed as part of the Hopsteiner Breeding Program in the Yakima Valley. It contains high levels of alpha acid and has similar properties to the Columbus hop. The Zeus hop is usually used for its bittering qualities during the brewing process. It offers modest aromas of curry, black pepper, and licorice.
  • Chinook: The Chinook hop was created by the USDA Breeding Program in Washington State. It contains high levels of alpha acid and was initially bred for its bittering qualities in 1985. Over the past few decades, this practice has changed, with its aromas and tastes also being utilized in the brewing process. The Chinook hop offers unique aromas and tastes of fresh earthy pine. These distinct aromas are elegantly complemented by soft fruity undertones and spice.
  • Nugget: The Nugget Hop was developed in 1970 but only released by Al Naunold in 1981 from the USDA Hop Breeding Program in Corvallis, Oregon. The Nugget hop is one of the original “super alpha” hops and is a cross between two USDA high alpha varieties in 1970. Its outstanding bittering qualities have resulted in the Nugget hop being extremely popular in IPA’s and Double Imperial brews. Additionally, it offers fresh herbal aromas and tastes of fresh wood and resin.

What popular beer styles use Centennial Hops?

American IPA

The US centennial hop is grown in popularity over the last decade, and today, it is used to make an array of beer styles:

  • Red Ale:  Irish Red Ale is a delicious malty Ale with undertones of rich caramel, creamy toffee, and freshly toasted bread. It offers low levels of bitterness that expertly balances the sweetness of the dominant malt flavor. The finish is long, smooth, refreshing, and offers an ABV of between 4%-6%.
  • Amber Ale:  Amber Ale is a classic American-style beer that is dominated by bold malty flavors. Upfront, you get intense flavors of toasted malt, chocolate, and rich caramel. A medium balances these bold, sweet flavors to a high level of hop bitterness. Amber Ale offers a finish that is exceptionally smooth and satisfying with an ABV of 5.8%.
  • Pale Ale: Pale Ale-style beer is traditionally medium-bodied with high levels of hop bitterness. They offer a lower ABV than IPA’s (Indian Pale Ale) with sweet aromas and tastes of toasted malt and fruit. A refreshing and satisfying finish follows high levels of hop bitterness. Pale Ale is easy to drink and offers an ABV of around 5%.
  • American IPA: American IPA (Indian Pale Ale) is similar to British IPA but offers stronger flavors and aromas, courtesy of American hops. Upfront, you get earthy and fruit aromas that are followed by intense hop bitterness. The finish is intense and satisfying. American IPA is usually reddish-golden and offers an ABV of between 5%-8%.
  • Double IPA: Double IPA’s are commonly referred to as Imperial IPA’s. Double IPA is a uniquely American-style beer that often uses double or even three times as many hops as you will find in an authentic Lager or Pilsner. Lovely tastes and aromas of rich malt add serious depth to this beer, simultaneously balancing it all out perfectly. Double IPA’s offer extreme levels of hop bitterness and an ABV of between 7.5%-10%.
  • American Wheat: American Wheat Beer is an “adjunct” beer made popular by hard-working and passionate American Craft Breweries. Traditionally, American Wheat Beer is made using malted wheat which makes up 30% of the grit. Brewed using neutral ale or Lager yeast, it offers flavors and aromas of malted grains, with low to medium levels of hop bitterness. The finish is smooth, refreshing, and satisfying, with an ABV of between 4%-5.5%.
  • American Blonde: One of the most approachable styles, golden or blonde ale is an easy-drinking beer that is visually appealing and has no particularly dominating malt or hops characteristics. Rounded and smooth, it is an American classic known for its simplicity.
  • American Stout: American Stout Beer is the darkest American beer with a distinct flavor, aroma, and appearance. Upfront you get rich tastes and aromas of roasted malt, coffee beans, caramel, and chocolate. The assault on your senses is well-balanced with a medium level of hop bitterness. The finish is smooth and delicious. American Stout is perfect for the colder seasons and offers an ABV of between 5%-7%.
  • Barley Wine: Barley Wine is a beer that is made from grain, the wine part often presents confusion, but wine is made from fruit. It is referred to as Barley Wine due to the high alcohol content. Upfront, you get lovely flavors of freshly baked bread, toffee, molasses, and caramel. Additionally, the brewing process results in subtle notes and flavors of fresh fruit. Low levels of bitterness are followed by a long and lingering finish. Barley Wine offers an impressive ABV of between 6%-12%.

What commercial beer brands are made using only Centennial Hops?

Below are three quality and respected beers that use only Centennial hops when producing their beloved brew:

Centennial Single Hop IPA: Centennial Single Hop IPA

  1. Do Mikkeller ApS proudly produce an impressive IPA-style beer. Upfront, you get aromas and flavors of grapefruit and toasted malts. A sharp and intense finish follows medium levels of bitterness. Centennial Single Hop IPA is an interesting creation and offers an ABV of 8.9%.
  2. Two-Hearted Ale: Two-Hearted Ale from Bell’s Brewing Company is a delicious beer made with 100% American Centennial hops, and it is a great balance between bitterness, fruit, and malts. Upfront, you encounter aromas and tastes of lemon, pineapple, and grapefruit. High levels of hop bitterness are followed by a thirst-quenching and memorable finish. Two-Hearted Ale is a “must try” beer and offers an ABV of 7%.
  3. Centennial IPA: Centennial IPA is produced by the Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It is a full-flavored beer with wonderful aromas of lemongrass, fresh orange, and juicy tangerine. Subtle flavors of malt and medium hop bitterness are followed by a refreshing and satisfying finish. Centennial IPA is packed with flavor and offers an ABV of 4.7%.

What commercial beer brands combine Centennial Hops with other hop varieties?

Vagabond Pale Ale

Below are four outstanding beers that use Centennial and other varieties of hops when producing their beer:

  1. Vagabond Pale Ale: Vagabond Pale Ale is produced by the Brewdog Brewing Company in Ellon, Scotland, and is made using the finest ingredients and both the Amarillo and Centennial hops. Upfront, you get aromas and tastes of caramel malt and tropical hops. A bitter and refreshing finish follows subtle undertones of citrus. Vagabond Pale Ale is gluten-free and offers an ABV of 4.5%.
  2. Hellhound on my Ale: Hellbound on my Ale is a world-class beer from Dogfish Head Brewing Company in Milton, Delaware, and has been expertly dry-hopped using Centennial hops. Upfront, you get tastes and aromas of grapefruit, citrus zest, and earthy pine. A smooth and satisfying finish follows a trace of mild hop bitterness. Hellbound on my Ale is an exceptional beer and offers a whopping ABV of 10%.
  3. Big Eye IPA: Big Eye IPA from the Ballast Point Brewing Company in San Diego is brewed using Columbus and Centennial hops. Lovely flavors of earthy hops, fresh pine, and floral are followed by notes of rich malt and creamy caramel. Medium to high levels of hop bitterness is followed by an enjoyable and thirst-quenching finish. Big Eye IPA is smooth, easy-drinking, and offers an ABV of 7.0%.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: How can you tell the difference between Centennial and Cascade hops?

Answer: The primary taste descriptors of these hops are identical, and both offer lovely tastes of floral and citrus, with Grapefruit being the dominant flavor. The main differences are that Centennial hops deliver higher levels of bitterness with stronger tastes of floral, whilst Cascade hops offer bolder and sharper citrus flavors.

Question: Are Centennial hops good for dry-hopping?

Answer: Centennial hops are versatile, well rounded and can be used for dry-hopping, bittering, aromas, and flavors. The lovely aromatic and flavoring qualities, combined with versatility and balance, have resulted in the humble Centennial hop commonly being referred to as Super Cascade.

Question: What do Centennial hops taste like?

Answer: Centennial hops are well-balanced and versatile hops that offer lovely aromas, bold tastes, and high levels of hop bitterness. Aromas of floral and citrus zest are complemented by tastes of floral, grapefruit, and citrus. Due to the intense floral aromas and tastes, it is often referred to as “Super Cascade.”

Question: Where are Centennial hops grown?

Answer: Centennial hops originated in Washington, and in 2015, 3770 acres of fertile Washington soil were dedicated to this quality hop variety. Centennial hops are also grown in Oregon (265 acres) and Idaho (679 acres).

Conclusion

The Centennial hops are versatile and well-balanced; it is an outstanding union of East Kent Golding, Fuggle, Bavarian, and Brewers Gold hops. Centennial hops offer fresh tastes of floral, grapefruit, and citrus, along with lovely aromas of floral, earthy pine, and citrus zest. They are high in alpha acids and are prized for their bold and intense bittering qualities. Additionally, this hop variety is ideal for dry-hopping and is a popular choice amongst microbreweries, craft breweries, and homebrewers.

I love this hop variety, the flavors and aromas are bold and fresh, and it is extremely versatile. For the novice and homebrewers, it is a great hop to play around with until you find your feet. The bitterness is substantial, so you don’t have to use as much product. It is also a great hop to create something crazy, such as a Hazy West Coast IPA or an outrageous Imperial IPA for your mates.

If you enjoy a beer with strong aromas and high levels of bitterness, then this is a great hop for you. It can easily be cultivated at home, your first harvest just 120 days away.

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