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Cascade hops make American beers, well...American.

Cascade hop cones, a hophead's delight.
Cascade hop cones, a hophead's delight.

As most of us living in Acadiana already know, variety is the spice of life.  And when it comes to the flavors in your beer, that's especially true.  Beer is basically made up of four ingredients: water, malted barley, hops and yeast.  Imagine if you can what your favorite beer would taste like with just malted barley, water and yeast.  It would be insipidly sweet and very boring.

Even in the beginning of beer's long history, man added herbs to make his beer more interesting.  But the beer didn't last long and had to be drunk quickly or it would spoil.  The Benedictine Monks in the Abbey of Weihenstephan in Bavaria, outside Munich, were the first to use hops in their beer.  Not only did the hops add a bittering effect and much flavor and aroma, it also had anti-microbial properties that helped the beer last much longer.  That's why hops, and I mean a lot of hops, were added to beers that were sent from England to their troops and administrators in India.  The extra hops allowed the beer to make the long sea journey without spoiling.  I'm sure the highly bitter and aromatic beer took some getting used to.  This same beer style was revived from extinction by American Craft Brewers and homebrewers and is now enjoyed across the globe.  It is the beer we now call India Pale Ale. (IPA)

Most of the beer we drink here in the U.S. is based on beer brewed in England.  But the end product has been "Americanized" with American ingredients.  We use American malt, water, and hops with various brewing yeasts to make most of the beers we now drink.   The same variety of hop vine grown in Germany or England will take on an entirely different flavor and aroma when grown in the Northwest region of the U.S.  What the French call terroir is what makes these American version different.  Different soils, nutrients, water, microclimate, etc. all work together to make these identical hop plants uniquely American.   American hops are known for their floral and citrusy or piney character. 

Cascade is arguably the most popular hop in America today.  Cascade is a breed of hops developed in the U.S.D.A. breeding program in Oregon and released as an U.S. aroma variety in 1972. It originated from a cross between a female Fuggles hop and a male Fuggles hop with Russian Serebrianker hop parentage.  The Cascade hops was named after the Cascade mountain range that runs through Washington State and Oregon.  The aroma of Cascade is of medium strength and very distinct. It has a pleasant, flowery and spicy, citrus-like flavor and aroma. Cascade is used primarily for flavor and aroma, but can also be used for bittering effectively.  One of the biggest uses for Cascade is for dry hopping American ales and lagers.

Many of the beers you enjoy, especially those in the West Coast style, are hopped extensively with Cascade.  Probably the most widely available beer, and the one most people think of when they think of Cascade hops, is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.  But there are many, many others available as well, quite a few available here in Lafayette.  A small sampling of the beers that use Cascade hops are: Alaskan Amber and Alaskan ESB from the Alaskan Brewing Company , Anchor Liberty Ale and Old Foghorn Barleywine from the Anchor Brewing Company, Ellie's Brown Ale from Avery Brewing, Full Moon Pale Rye Ale from Real Ale Brewing Company, Full Sail Amber from the Full Sail Brewing Company, Harpoon IPA from Harpoon Brewery, Lost Gold IPA from the Real Ale Brewing Company, Mirror Pond Pale Ale from Deschutes Brewery, New Belgium Skinny Dip from New Belgium Brewing Company, Old Brown Dog Ale from Smuttynose Brewing Company, Otter Creek Pale Ale from Otter Creek Brewing, Red Hook Ale and Redhook Winterhook made by Redhook Ale Brewery, Rogue American Amber, Rogue Brutal Bitter, Rogue Chamomellow, Rogue Chipotle Ale, Rogue Chocolate Stout, Rogue Imperial India Pale Ale, and Rogue Imperial Stout made by Rogue Ales, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barley Wine,Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and Sierra Nevada Stout all made by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, St. Arnold's Amber and Elissa IPA made by Saint Arnold Brewing Company in Houston, TX, Widmer Brother Widberry, Widmer Brothers Broken Halo IPA, and Widmer Brothers Hefeweizen brewed at Widmer Brothers Brewing. (Beers in Bold should be available in Lafayette at finer beer stores)

Try some of these beers and take a minute to notice the aroma and flavor of this famous American hop variety, Cascade.

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  • Beer Wrangler 5 years ago

    What about us Canadians? PNW hop varieties grow here rather well too and make all those traditional British brews- well....Canadian!

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