Get to Know Your Hops: Centennial

Photo: Flickr/Donosborn

The story of Centennial hops starts in 1974. That year, U.S.D.A. researchers in Prosser, Washington crossed a grab bag of hops, including pungent Brewer’s Gold, earthy and fruity Fuggle, smooth and somewhat sweet East Kent Goldings and several other bits and bobs. The hybrid was dubbed CFJ90, and over the next 16 years the hop strain underwent rigorous testing in order to answer one very important question: Will this make a great beer?

In 1990, the researchers answered with a resounding “yes.” The hop, dubbed Centennial, was released to the public—boasting heady floral notes mixed with loads of citrus and a clean, dry bitterness. Centennial was singular, yet few mass fizzeries found a home for the aromatic hop in their light lagers and ales.

But before Centennial was consigned to the compost bin, craft brewers came to the rescue. Bell’s Brewery began using Centennial in its flagship Two Hearted Ale, while Founders found success with its plainly named Centennial IPA. Now, Centennial is a signature flavor in American craft brewing—it's one of the “three Cs,” along with Columbus and Cascade (more on those in future lessons).

Which beers with Centennial should you try? Head over to Food Republic to read my picks. Drink it up!