Does rival craft cannabis seem misdirected, almost as though someone was making a literal attempt to compare apples to oranges? Increasing amounts of research have been done to evolve cannabis from THC, the cannabinoid largely responsible for the “high” users get from cannabis. The plant contains hundreds of unique compounds – many of them able to, in some way, affect the human mind and body. Instead of a THC-heavy alcohol pairing, the few variety of cannabis beer available today has been able to piggyback on the emerging research about other cannabinoids and terpenes, including CBD, available.
The brews that have emerged, few though they are, have been able to blend the deep floral musk cannabis is known for within a medley of hops and barley. These brews offer between 4 mg and 5 mg of cannabinoids per cannabis beer and have been developed with a knowledge of the deep biological similarities between hops and hemp.
A Family of Flavors
If it were not for the continued illegality of cannabis at the federal level, cannabis beer might be more common than it is today. The hemp plant, in particular, is home to many genetic similarities to hops. After all, they both are contained in the Cannabaceae family – a family of flowering plants. Under such a distinction, Cannabis (hemp) and Humulus (hops) share a common genetic and evolutionary history, yet the similarities might as well end there. Nowhere in hops will you find a cannabinoid and nowhere in cannabis will you find the dimethylvinyl-carbinols typical of hops.
Where the two species converge is in their ability to produce natural flavors and oils layered with some relaxing, pain-relieving, and recuperative properties. The floral aroma and bitter flavors expected in an IPA, a heavily-hopped type of beer, can nearly be tasted in a bong rip. This is why several brews of the cannabis beer are brewed and labeled as IPAs.
General Washington’s Secret Stash IPA by Dad & Dude’s Breweria – Aurora, CO
Dad & Dude’s Breweria is a brewery and restaurant. They first gained recognition nationally after their 2015 introduction of their cannabis beer to the Great American Beer Festival. Soon after that, they refined the recipe, went to the feds, and were able to get the go-ahead to begin producing the IPA – now known as General Washington’s Secret Stash – for sale around Colorado and beyond. Each batch is brewed with CBD oil that is added to it and has 6.5% alcohol by volume.
Hemp Ale by Humboldt Brewing Company – Humboldt County, CA
Rather than pairing the rich terpene similarities between hops and hemp, Humboldt Brewing Company chose to highlight some of the other delightful characteristics of cannabis often overlooked by the media. Hemp seeds are delicious, nutty little nuggets of nutrition. Hemp Ale is a cannabis beer made by including roasted hemp seeds in the brewing process, giving the Brown Ale a toasty, nutty kiss of cannabis. 5.7% alcohol by volume.
Two Flowers IPA by Coalition Brewing – Portland, OR
Given its name in outright acknowledgment of the genetic relationship shared by hops and hemp, Two Flowers offers a kind blend of hemp pulp and CBD oil to create a grassy, floral – slightly citrus IPA. Each glass offers around 5 mg of CBD, a standard dose to easily slip into a more relaxed state. 6% alcohol by volume.