Using Cascade hops when brewing American Pale Ale

Wednesday, November 29, 2023
Cascade hops, renowned for their distinct and influential role in the craft beer revolution, particularly in the United States, offer a fascinating topic for exploration. They are emblematic of the American craft beer identity and have played a pivotal role in the development of several beer styles. Let's delve into the origins, characteristics, and utilization of Cascade hops in brewing.

Cascade hops were first developed in the 1950s and released in 1972 by the USDA breeding program in Oregon. Their development was part of an effort to establish American varieties of hops that could rival the noble hops of Europe. Cascade hops emerged as a successful result of these efforts, characterized by their unique aroma profile that was quite distinct from traditional European hop varieties.

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Aroma and Flavor Profile

Cascade hops are renowned for their vibrant, floral, and citrusy characteristics, with a distinct note of grapefruit being a hallmark of their aroma and flavor profile. This unique profile was a departure from the more herbal, earthy characteristics of traditional European hops and represented a new frontier in hop breeding and beer flavor profiles.

Contribution to Beer's Bitter Profile

In brewing, hops contribute both bitterness and aroma. The bitterness of hops, measured in International Bitterness Units (IBUs), is derived from alpha acids found in hop oils. Cascade hops have a moderate alpha acid content, typically ranging from 4.5% to 7%. This makes them versatile for both providing a solid but not overwhelming bitter foundation and for contributing to the aroma and flavor of the beer.

Suitability for Beer Styles

Cascade hops have become synonymous with American Pale Ales and India Pale Ales (IPAs), styles where their distinctive aroma and flavor can take center stage. They are also used in:

  • American Pale Ale: This style showcases the floral and citrus notes of Cascade hops.
  • IPA: Both traditional and session IPAs benefit from the balance of bitterness and aromatic qualities of Cascade.
  • American Blonde Ale: A style that often features a more subdued hop presence, allowing the lighter, floral aspects of Cascade to shine.
  • American Amber Ale: Cascade hops can contribute to the balance between malt sweetness and hop bitterness in this style.

Brewing Techniques and Trends

In brewing with Cascade hops, timing is crucial. When added early in the boil, they contribute more to the bitterness of the beer. Later additions, including dry hopping, emphasize their aromatic and flavor characteristics. This versatility makes Cascade hops a favorite among craft brewers, who often experiment with different addition times to achieve the desired balance of bitterness, flavor, and aroma.


Cascade hops have significantly influenced the craft beer movement, particularly in the United States. Their unique profile has enabled the creation of new beer styles and redefined existing ones. As a staple in American craft brewing, Cascade hops continue to inspire brewers and beer enthusiasts alike, making them a cornerstone of the American beer landscape. The exploration of Cascade hops is not just a study of a brewing ingredient but a journey through the evolution of craft beer itself.

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