What Are Cascade Hops?

Sometimes it’s all about the classics, and Cascade Hops are classic.

Cascade ranks among the most popular hop varieties used today, and it’s famous for essentially defining the American ale. In the past I’ve covered Citra, Simcoe, and Mosaic, all of which are quintessential in today’s craft ales.

Those, along with Cascade.

A Cascade Hop History

Cascade hops enjoy a humble origin story like you or me, assuming one or both of us was created in a lab by the Feds.

Back in the 1960s, Oregon State University had a hop breeding program funded by the USDA (see? Feds). Cascade was a brain baby of this project. Little did these OSU professors know that they would help kickstart a craft beer revolution that would redefine America’s contributions to global gastronomy. Ok, I’m getting poetic, but you get the point.

For my PNW friends, the name should sound familiar. The hop derives its name from the Cascade Mountains that stretch through the entire Pacific Northwest, from BC Canada to Northern California. Today, the hop is grown and used…pretty much everywhere you grow or use hops.

What Does Cascade Taste Like in Beer?

Like other hops widely found in ales, Cascade has a pleasant juicy flavor. But that’s not all! Cascade also brings a sort of zesty, spicy pop that rounds out beers. In terms of bitterness: Cascade isn’t going to bring the juice like Citra, but it’s also not going to destroy your taste buds with a bitterness overload. You’re also going to get a really nice aroma from Cascade, which does help the flavors come out even better.

What is Cascade IPA?

You’ve probably seen beers from your local craft brewery that say “Cascade Solo” or “Cascade IPA.” This means that Cascade was the main, or potentially only, hop used in the brew. These beers are going to put the slightly bitter, slightly juicy flavor of the Cascade hop on full display. 

Again, because Cascade is essentially the original American ale hop, you’ll find Cascade hops in lots of beers. 

Why are Cascade Hops Popular?

I’m not a brewer, so I don’t know! But from what I gather, Cascade is an absolute treat to brew with. Depending on when you use the hop in the brew, you can maximize or minimize the bitterness and juiciness. 

I think that, more than anything else, Cascade is just a really versatile hop to brew with. This makes it easy to brew with just Cascade or to mix it with other hops. 

For me, Cascade hops are popular because I like to drink beers that use Cascade.

Thomas Short
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