Whether through coincidence, chance, or contrivance — the number of popular beer hops in the country with names starting with C is certainly crazy. They may start with the same letter, but every hop is unique in their own way. Here’s a rundown on the 5 C’s of American beers.
One of the newest entry in the hop market — and definitely one you should buy in bulk — is Citra hops. A brew made from these hops won the 2008 World Beer Cup, and Citra’s unique flavor profile is credited for the renewed popularity of craft beer.
Citra is more commonly used as a flavoring hop. It produces a unique brew that is rich in fruit and citrusy flavors and aromas. So far, no hop has come close to be even be considered a substitute for Citra with its high level of citrusy flavors.
The popularity of Cascade and the brews associated with it had a big impact on the burgeoning craft brewing scene of the 70s. Cascade was one of the first hops to be developed by the USDA breeding program, and it became one of the real American hops that gained popularity in the brewing scene.
Cascade started the trend of citrusy American hops. Its flavor profile includes flavors of citrus, pine, and grapefruit with additional floral notes. Cascade is a multi-purpose hop, good for both flavoring and bittering.
If you liked Cascade, then you would probably like Centennial. Often referred to as “Super Cascade” — Centennial has a similar flavor profile and aroma to Cascade, although with softer grapefruit tones.
It keeps the flavors of pine, citrus, and grapefruit — but with a cleaner and distinct bitterness. Centennial is great for both bittering and flavoring or in combination with other hop varieties.
Chinook is another favorite for American pale ales. Its flavor profile includes pine and a little bit of citrus with a touch of spice. When used for bittering, it adds rich aromas of pine and spice. Craft beer made from Chinook often have the smooth, and light bitterness brewers want to capture.
Although more often used in bittering, beer flavored with Chinook is still popular with the more mature beer drinkers. Chinook is great as a stand-alone hop or in combination with an additional flavoring hop.
Columbus, sometimes referred to as CTZ (Columbus, Tomahawk, and Zeus), is another American hop that has gained significant popularity. Columbus is a multi-purpose hop that is great for both bittering and flavoring. It provides a neutral bitterness when used in the early stages of brewing.
As a flavoring hop, Columbus produces rich floral and citrusy flavors. It is very aromatic, evoking tones of both citrus and pine. Columbus goes very well with other American hop varieties, particularly Cascade, Centennial, and Citra.
It might be the citrusy taste, or it might be just chance. The 5 C’s of American craft beers have their own distinct charms and qualities. At least it makes it easier to remember what hops to buy when you want that distinct American pale ale flavor.
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