Hop-epedia Project: Centennial Hops

Next up on the Hop-epedia Project: Centennial Hops. Centennial is an aroma-type hop that is also used for bittering. Yet another hoppy brainchild of the USDA (see lineage below in Hop USA specs), its versitility in different beer styles, resistance to disease and fungus, and moderate storagability make it pretty popular. Along with Cascade and Columbus, it is one of the “Three Cs”.

Centennial hops are known as the “Super Cascade” for their higher bittering capacity, but similar aroma/flavor profile: floral, citrus, and slightly spicy character. But the flavor and aroma comparisons between Centennial and Cascade are all over the place. Some claim Centennial is not quite as floral as Cascade. Others claim that they are not quite as citrusy. And I’ll be damned if I don’t taste a bit of pine when I crack open a Two-Hearted or a Centennial IPA (two Centennial hop beers). Ugh. Who knows? What’s the fucking point?

Oh shit! It just got all existential up in here.

Although, I will say that once the Two-Hearted and Centennial IPA stop being all up in your grill and warm-up a bit, any pine fades and the floral and citrus come out.

Indeed, Centennial and Cascade are often substituted for one another or used in tandem, but how are they distinguishable? Centennials are higher in alpha acid, so they impart more bitterness. Both can be grapefruity, but I usually find Cascade to be more so (there may be disagreement here). I find Cascade to be slightly more piney. And I think Centennials are a little more floral. I have even seen some rare bitching on homebrew forums about Centennial being too floral (I have never heard that said about Cascade). I even heard of someone saying that Two-Hearted reminds her of a hair salon. I can infer from this that I have been going to the wrong hair salons, and that Centennial has a substantial floral character.

If you are looking for substitutions, try Amarillo or, obviously, Cascade. I have also seen that, by the numbers, a mix of 70% Cascade and 30% Columbus will have a similar profile. This would make some sense as the Columbus would boost the bittering alpha acids and could impart a slight pungent kick needed to super-fy the Cascade.

As always with the Hop-epedia Project, comments and additions are encouraged.

Some Centennial Beers
Bell’s Two-Hearted
Founders Centennial IPA
Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Harvest (Centennial for bittering and Cascade and Centennial for finishing)
Sierra Nevada Celebration (Centennial bittering and Cascade and Centennial for finishing and dry-hopping)
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine (includes Cascade and Chinook as well)

Specs from USA Hops variety manual
Centennial is an aroma variety that was released in 1990. It was derived from three-quarters Brewer’s Gold with minor contributions from Fuggle, East Kent Golding and others. It is among the most popular varieties for U.S. craft brewers and is sometimes referred to as a super Cascade.

Alpha Acids 9.5 – 11.5%
Beta Acids 3.5 – 4.5%
Cohumulone (% of alpha acids) 29 – 30%
Total Oils (Mls. per 100 grams dried hops) 1.5 – 2.5
Myrcene (as % of total oils) 45 – 55%
Caryophyllene (as % of total oils) 5.0 – 8.0%
Humulene (as % of total oils) 10 – 18%
Farnesene (as % of total oils) < 1.0%
Storage (% alpha acids remaining after 6 months storage at 20° C) 60 – 65%
Possible Substitutions Cascade, Amarillo

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8 thoughts on “Hop-epedia Project: Centennial Hops

  1. I just bookmarked this article and will frequent it often–a lot of great information here! Thanks for the lesson on THE ingredient that greatly impacts the taste of some of our favorite beers! Cheers!

  2. This is right on. Victory recently did a brewpub beer called Ranch R IPA that was a Centennial single hopped beer, and your description is right on. And I love the technical info too!

  3. Pingback: Hop School – Extra Credit | The Dogs of Beer

  4. Personally, I am an absolute lover of Centennial. I tasted my first two hearted ale on a recent trip back to the states, and I was in love. I’ve adapted a version of the brew using Centennial at all stages, but my little secret ingredient is .25 oz of chinook at 60 min. gives it a little more of a bitter bite to play off the sweet, citrusy flavor that Centennial gives off. I really recommend trying this if anyone out there likes Two Hearted, but wishes it could have just a touch piney, bitter goodness.

    Cascade is another great hop variety, and it’s the primary hop that I used in my first beer I ever made! I’m not really using it in IPA’s these days, but I recently developed an Amber Ale that uses Cascade as the bittering hop. This was sort of a fortunate accident. Cascade was what I had on hand, so I used that (I bulked up the amount compared to my original recipe since I knew Cascade is known to leave little bitterness). I loved the flavor it gave my beer!

    To me, what sets Centennial apart from Cascade is the clear, bright taste that I get with Centennial. I agree that Cascade is a little piney. I like a bit of pine flavor, but it imparts just a bit too much for my preference when I use a lot of it.

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