This week on Drinking Socially we're launching a new segment called "Top Hop Spot" to explore the history and usage of different hop varieties. Our inaugural Top Hop is Centennial and we're diving deep this week so tune in to the episode TOMORROW! Centennial is my favorite hop, and one that helped make American craft beer what it's known for today - big ol' hoppy beers!
Centennial hops are often referred to as Super Cascade (another hop!) as they share the same citrus forward characteristic. Centennial is known for it's versatility as it's high alpha acids (usually between 9%-14%) help impart solid bitterness when used early in the boil, while it's grapefruit and lemongrass flavor's make it ideal for hop additions later in the boil as well. It's also a favorite of mine for dry hopping!
Centennial doesn't exist in the wild like some other hops (I'm looking at you, Comet). It was actually created by the celebrated hop breeding program at Washington State University in 1974 - although it wasn't released to the brewing world until 1990. Charles "Chuck" Zimmerman and S.T. Kenny are credited with successfully breeding Centennial. Centennial's parentage includes Brews Gold, Fuggle, and East Kent Golding Hops.
You're most likely to find Centennial hops in Pale Ales and IPA's, however I really enjoy how small hop chargers of Centennial in Wheats Beers can cut throw the heavy wheat grain bill and add to citrus flavors commonly found in those beers. Huge hop drops of Centennial in Imperial Stouts also work great at slicing through that big malt backbone.
Here are some beers you can seek out to experience all the grapefruit glory of Centennial Hops yourself:
1). Two Hearted Ale - Bells Brewing
Brewed with 100% Centennial hops from the Pacific Northwest and named after the Two Hearted River in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, this IPA is bursting with hop aromas ranging from pine to grapefruit from massive hop additions in both the kettle and the fermenter. Perfectly balanced with a malt backbone and combined with the signature fruity aromas of Bell's house yeast, this beer is remarkably drinkable and well suited for adventures everywhere.
2). Lunch - Maine Beer Co.
(featured on this week's Season 3, Episode 17 of Drinking Socially - DROPPING TOMORROW!)
Our "East Coast" version of a West Coast-style IPA. Intense hop flavors and aromas of tropical and citrus fruits and pine dominate. A subtle malt sweetness brings the beer into balance.
3). Old Rasputin - North Coast Brewing Company
Produced in the tradition of 18th Century English brewers who supplied the court of Russia's Catherine the Great, Old Rasputin seems to develop a cult following wherever it goes. It's a rich, intense brew with big complex flavors and a warming finish.
4). 60 Minute - Dogfish Head Brewing Company
60 Minute IPA is continuously hopped -- more than 60 hop additions over a 60-minute boil. Getting a vibe of where the name came from? 60 Minute is brewed with a slew of great Northwest hops. A powerful but balanced East Coast IPA with a lot of citrusy hop character, it's the session beer for hardcore enthusiasts!
Don't forget to listen to this week's newest Drinking Socially episode dropping on Wednesday, August 12th for more information on Centennial and tune in next time when we explore another classic American hop - Cascade! Listen to us wherever you listen to your podcasts (Spotify, Apple, Simplecast and more!).