Hops cones growing on plant.

Centennial Hops

Centennial hops is the third of a trio of hops that are often referred to as the three C’s. It joins Cascade and Columbus as three of the most instrumental hop varieties to spark the American craft beer movement. Centennial is a dual-purpose hop with high alpha content and extremely high myrcene oil levels. This unique combination makes Centennial one of the most versatile and beloved hops used in modern brewing

In this article, we’re going to take a deeper dive into Centennial, how it’s used, and where it came from.

Closeup of hops cones growing on a plant.

History and Origin of Centennial Hops

The developmental process for Centennial started way back in 1974, just two years after its close relative Cascade was released. Centennial was then released in 1990, and it comes to us courtesy of Charles Zimmerman and S.T. Kenny from Washington State University. Centennial is a mixture that’s 3/4 Brewers Gold, with the remaining composition being made up of Fuggle, East Kent, Golding, and Bavarian. Centennial is named after the Washington State Centennial Celebration, which happened one year before the release of the hop.

General Characteristics

Generally speaking, Centennial is earthy and floral with citrus elements. It’s very similar to Cascade and is often called super Cascade. Centennial is a dual-purpose hop that has excellent bittering and aroma properties. Here are a few of the general characteristics contained by Centennial.

  • Climate — Most climates are suitable
  • Growth Rate — Moderate and neat
  • Yield — Good
  • Cones — Medium-sized, dense
  • Maturity — Mid-season
  • Susceptible To — Hop Mosaic Virus (HpMV)
  • Resistant To — Somewhat resistant to powdery mildew and verticillium wilt
  • Ease of Harvest — Good
  • Storage — Moderate (loss of 40% to 45% of alpha acids after six months a 20°C)

Flavor & Aroma Profile

The flavor and aroma that Centennial has is direct, crisp, and to the point. It’s often described as having citrus and floral notes combined with a crisp bitterness and pine aroma.

Fresh picked hops cones.

Brewing Values of Centennial Hops

Here are the brewing values for Centennial hops. Keep in mind that every year produces different quantities and qualities of Centennial, so these numbers are based on what is usually produced.

  • Alpha Acid – 9-12%

Alpha acids are the primary source of bitterness for beer, and the longer you boil Centennial hops, the more bitter it will be.

  • Beta Acid – 3.5-5%

Beta acid might have acid in the name, but it doesn’t contribute to a beer’s bitterness, unlike Alpha. Betas’ purpose is to contribute flavor and aroma profile to a beer.

  • Alpha-Beta Ratio – 1:1 – 3:1

The ratio you use for adding Alpha and beta acids will determine how bitter your brew is.

  • Co-humulone as % of Alpha – 25-30%

The lower the cohumulone % is, the less bitter your beer will be. Higher levels will result in a more bitter taste.

  • Total Oils 1.5-2.5 mL

Oils will also add flavor and aroma to the final product. Here are the different oils used with Centennial hops.

  • Myrcene – 45-60%
  • Humulene – 10-19%
  • Caryophyllene – 5-8%
  • Farnesene – 0-1%
  • All Other Oils – 10-30%

Beer Styles That Use Centennial Hops

Because of how versatile Centennial is and how it’s used, there are many beer styles that utilize it.

  • Pale and Amber Ales 
  • American and Double IPAs 
  • American Blondes, Stouts, and Wheat Beers 
  • Irish Red Ales
  • Barley Wine
Glasses of light and dark beer on a pub table.  Centennial hops is used to make IPA, Blondes, Stouts, and other kinds of beer.

Beers That You Can Buy That Use Centennial Hops

There are plenty of popular beers that use Centennial hops in the brewing process. Here are a few of the most popular that exclusively use Centennial.

  • Two Hearted Ale from Bell’s Brewing Company
  • Centennial IPA from Founders Brewing Company
  • Centennial Single Hop IPA from Mikkeller
  • Smuttynose IPA
  • Leatherlips IPA

Common Substitutions For Centennial Hops

If you have trouble getting your hands on Centennial hop pellets, here are a few acceptable hop substitutions you can use in its place.

  • Cascade
  • Amarillo
  • Chinook
  • Simcoe
Closeup of greenish-brown dried hops pellets.

How to Grow Your Own Centennial Hops

Have we got you curious and thirsty enough to try to grow your own Centennial hops yet? If so, here is some crucial information that you’ll need.

Water

Centennial needs plenty of water like all hops, especially in the first two years of growth. Water Centennial regularly so that the soil remains moist but not flooded. You should be able to stick your finger two inches into the ground at all times and feel moisture.

Light

Centennial requires 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day. Full sun is ideal unless you live in warmer climates with high temperatures. Where the temperature is consistently in the 80s and 90s, your plant will need a mixture of sun and shade.

Hops cones on a plant in sunshine.

Soil

Sandy, well-drained loam soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0 is best for growing Centennial hops. You’ll want to plant your rhizome at least four inches deep in the ground and allow enough space for your plant’s roots to spread. Planting each Centennial hop plant 3 to 5 feet apart should be sufficient.

Zones

Hops plants are hardy and can thrive in hardiness zones 3 through 8. It’s best to plant Centennial hops between the months of February and April because they can withstand cold temperatures for the most part. However, you want to avoid planting them until after the last frost of the year.

Pruning

Keep your hop plants trimmed to maintain good growth and reduce pests and diseases. Trimming is also key to keeping hop plants growing vertically instead of horizontally. If needed, use a pole or post to help train your plants to grow in a vertical direction. At times, you may need to also introduce a fungicide or herbicide into the hop growth process to keep mildew and pests at bay.

Rows of hops plants growing on poles.

Outdoor

Centennial will grow to a height of 20-25 feet tall, so you’ll want to plant them outdoors. You should also provide a trellace or support system to aid them as they grow tall.

Where To Purchase Centennial Hops

If we’ve got you thirsty and curious enough to try your own homebrew using Centennial hops, you can purchase your pellets at Amazon and get brewing!

Final Thoughts About Centennial Hops

Hops cones on a plant.

If you’re in need of a high-quality dual-purpose hop, Centennial is definitely worth a try. It’s considered to be one of the most versatile and user-friendly hop varieties on the market. You can use Centennial by itself or in conjunction with other hop varieties. Either way, it’s bound to spice up your brew and leave you wanting more!

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