The Hop Ten.

These varietals that range in age from 1950 to the last decade are the most commonly used hops in North America by volume. 


Cascade is a standard in craft brewing. Today 10% of hops used in the US are this varietal. Cascade hops are known for their fresh, exceptionally clean bittering effect with floral aromas of grapefruit, pine, and citrus notes. They also play well with other hops. Cascade has been around since the 1950’s when it was created through open pollination between a Russian hop, Serebrinka and British, Fuggles hops. The name comes from the Cascades Mountains that run from California to British Columbia. Cascade is most popularly used for Pale Ales and Lagers.


Often referred to as the ‘Super Cascade’, Centennial is very popular for IPAs and Pale Ales. Created around 1974 from a mix of four early varietals including Fuggles and a Bavarian strain, Centennial is appreciated for its substantive bitterness and citrus kick with very forward floral aromas of wildflowers and earth.


The piney, wood flavours of Chinook have become more popular recently. Chinook is often used for dry-hopping. Chinook hops also pack a well-defined spicey grapefruit flavor. They are often used for American-style Pale ales and IPAs but can sometimes be found as an ingredient in porters and stouts.


Very popular for any beer creation requiring substantial hoppiness, Simcoe was first released in 2000. It was created by American hop breeders. Simcoe works well as a baseline, bittering hop with pleasant fruits and earthy, piney aromas. It is apparently superb for dry-hopping.


Citra is a new entry into the beer world, having been hatched in 2008 by the Hop Breeding Company. Citra is an ultra high impact hop with aromas of lime, grapefruit and tropical fruits. While this has made it popular, experts caution about depending too much on Citra for creating bitterness as it can be very harsh. Citra’s most common use is for west coast-style IPAs.


Hallertau is one of the four original ‘noble hops’ dating back to the late 19th century in Bavaria. Also called Halletauer or Mittelfrüh. The original genetic line from Germany has declined dramatically because of poor yields. However offshoots such as the US Hallertau are more resistant and have become very popular for Kolsch and European-style lagers. The flavor profile of Hallertau hops is milder and more delicate than others.


Amarillo hops originate in the US and can be difficult to source. They are prized for high acidity and their delicious orange papaya citrus flavours. Used for Wheat beers, Red ales, ESBs, IPAs and Pale ales.


Crystal first emerged in the ‘80s and was favoured for use as an alternative for Hallertau. Crystal hops are vaguely lemony with notes of cinnamon, black pepper and nutmeg. Crystal is more flexible than other varietals and can be used in a wide range of beer styles.


This is the generic name for commercial cultivars: Columbus, Tomahawk and Zeus hops. CTZ hops are probably the highest volume hops grown in the US. They tend to mature late in the season with higher than average yields. CTZ is commonly processed into pellets or extract oils – rarely shipped as intact hops. CTZ is sought after for Double IPAs and American Pale Ales.

Paul Gilbert