Cascade: The Birth of a Hop

Cascade: The Birth of a Hop

June 23, 2016 / Hop Varieties

Since its release in 1972, Cascade has grown to become one of the most recognizable varieties by both brewers and beer consumers alike. Despite the emergence of several popular proprietary varieties in recent years, Cascade has remained the number one most utilized variety in craft brewing since 2007, when the Brewers Association released its first hop usage report. What many beer enthusiasts may not know is that Cascade ultimately owes its success to the rapid growth of the craft beer industry and the coinciding growth in the popularity of hoppy, aromatic beer styles.

Cascade was bred in 1956 using an English Fuggle and Russian Serebrianker pedigree with open pollination by an unknown male variety. At the time, Oregon was the leading hop-growing region in the United States and Cluster occupied roughly 90% of the state’s hop fields - a variety known for susceptibility to downy mildew. As a result, resistance to downy mildew was the original attraction to Cascade. In 1967, the USDA approved a small lot to be planted in Oregon.

At first glance, the new variety was often overlooked, however its characteristics seemingly resembled the popular German variety, Hallertau Mittlefrüh. When noble hop fields in Germany produced low yields due to Verticillum Wilt during the late 1960s, and Hallertauer Mittlefrueh took the hardest hit, Cascade became a substitute variety for US brewers. Even so, it wasn’t enough to promote demand and the USDA contemplated eliminating the hop all together.

Thankfully, Adolph Coors of Coors Brewing Company gave Cascade the boost it needed when he began purchasing the hop variety to replace Hallertau Mittlefrüh. The USDA was then able to officially release the hop variety as Cascade—the first new hop cultivar released by the USDA hop research program since the end of Prohibition. While Coors eventually decreased their usage of the hop, the craft beer industry was already brewing and Cascade had exactly what new brewers were craving—bold, aromatic flavors.

Among these craft brewers was Fritz Maytag, owner of Anchor Steam Brewing Company, who featured Cascade hops in his Liberty Ale, the first post-Prohibition IPA and the first single-hopped American Ale. With the release of this legendary ale and the start of the craft beer revolution, Cascade soon gained its reputation as an essential aroma variety for any craft brewer. The rest is history.

In 2015, 6,790 acres of Cascade were harvested in the Pacific Northwest alone, and acreage has increased by 8% for the 2016 growing season. With well-balanced floral, spice and citrus aroma characteristics, this hop variety continues to be used in a wide-range of beer styles, including IPAs, pale ales, porters, barley wines and amber ales. As we enter the 2016 harvest season, we celebrate Cascade’s 60th birthday and raise a glass to brewing with Cascade for another 60 years!

To place an order for Cascade hops, please visit our Spot Availability page.

To view a sample recipe using Cascade hops, click here.

2 User Comments


We produced lots of cascade this year at work

Dave Elsner | Jun 23rd, 2016

Leave a Comment.