Marijuana plants and hops used for brewing beer are genetically related. They’re not first cousins, but in 2012 scientists confirmed they do have a distant, shared history. Which explains why many hoppy beers can smell or sometimes even taste a bit like bud (it actually has to do with the aromatic molecular compounds they share, called terpenes, but that’s a little too scientific for me to get into).
Anyway, nobody has really tried to brew a beer using cannabis on a large scale, until now. Legendary Northern California brewing behemoth Lagunitas is giving it a shot, for at least a short time.
The Santa Rosa-based brewery is introducing SuperCritical, which is made with cannabis terpenes (there’s that word again). The terpenes are supposed to give this new brew a flavor that is a bit more hempy than hoppy.
At least in theory; according to Fritz Hahn, who wrote about it in the Washington Post, “The beer itself is a dank, odoriferous IPA, checking in at just 6.8 percent alcohol by volume, with grassy flavors, a decent amount of earthy hop bitterness and a noticeably sticky finish. It’s not much different from other IPAs designed to mimic weed’s characteristic flavors, though the taste is slightly greener.”
Green is a taste? Eh. I’ve never had the greatest palate.
Anyway, Hahn notes that since THC–which is the active ingredient in marijuana–is strained out before it’s used by Lagunitas, drinkers of SuperCritical should expect nothing more than the usual beer buzz, for better or worse.
SuperCritical is being brewed as an experiment right now, and only 120 kegs have been produced. You can find where it’s available in Northern California before it runs out, on the Lagunitas website. If you try it, let us know what you think!