Hops and Hemp
As if the brew crew needed another excuse to peruse their way into the local pub. And as all true beer drinkers know, you never really need a reason to drink. Now those same pub crawlers will be happy to know they can feel just a little bit better about overindulging in that frothy foam.
What is this newfound buzz in beer? It’s nature’s new favorite beverage addition, cannabidiol, otherwise referred to as CBD for short. You have more than likely heard about this trendy new natural ingredient that is finding its way into coffee shops, bakeries, and now breweries. It’s naturally derived from hemp and makes a surprisingly smooth addition to your favorite pint. That’s right, you can now get the best of both worlds: hops and hemp. Fun facts for you, did you know that hop plants and cannabis come from the same plant genus? They share a very similar molecular structure in more ways than one and make for a delicious pairing. For years beer and bud have gone together like, well, beers and buds; but now there’s actual science to prove it.
Now before you trample your drinking mate to get in line for this upcoming release, those looking to get their “cross buzz” on will be highly disappointed; CBD contains none of the psychoactive component, THC, that induces that famed “stoned” feeling. But that’s not to say you won’t feel a little extra relaxed when sipping on that CBD-infused brew. So while you won’t be getting twice as buzzed, you will be able to get some of the healthy side effects of CBD. Studies have suggested that CBD has a wide range of universal medical uses. It probably won’t help you avoid the dreaded next day hangover, but it can help with multiple ailments. From alleviating anxiety and pain from muscle inflammation, to potentially helping cure different types of cancer, CBD has the naturally right stuff when it comes to improving your overall health. So while it may adversely affect your judgment, at least you’ll be getting some healthy benefits from your brew in the meantime.
A new beer brewed in England will be released in the coming summer months that is described as a “refreshing blond ale” with just a little bit of something extra: CBD oil. This wonderfully, buzzy beer has been dubbed Buffalo Soldier Hemp Ale, clearly named in honor of the marijuana maestro and international cannabis advocate himself, Bob Marley.1 Clocking in at just 3.8% alcohol, this beer shouldn’t leave drinkers feeling too tipsy right from the start. And naturally, the anticipation is already brewing. “The lads were excited about creating the product and are happy to be part of the first ale in the UK to contain cannabis oil,” said a Buffalo Soldier spokesperson. “The first batch will be ready in six weeks and after many enquiries we’ve got a feeling the product will be in demand and sell out quickly.” That is probably a wee bit of an understatement. Even our neighbors across the pond are excited to see CBD pouring its way into the hearts and pints of people all across the globe.
This is not the first time that hops and hemp have come together to form a more perfect union in our glasses. Back in 2015 and 2016, Dad & Dude’s Breweria based out of Aurora, Colorado offered up customers a beer they rightfully named, General Washington’s Secret Stash — our nation’s first leader was an avid grower and user of hemp.2 This was an infused beer that offered drinkers the chance to taste just what bud and beer brewed together would taste like. They debuted this new, surprisingly earthy brew at the Great American Beer Festival and, go figure, it was a keg-tapping success. No one ever in the history of yumanity could have predicted that beer and cannabis would go together so well. We’re joking, just about any cannabis connoisseur could have shared that secret with you.
The U.K. isn’t the first country to dive head first into the foam. Aside from Dad & Dude’s Breweria, Oregon-based Coalition Brewing has been brewing CBD-infused beer for some time, saying “there’s a natural synergy” between beer and pot with an emphasis on “crafts and locality.” Coalition has a series of CBD-infused beer including Two Flowers IPA, a west coast IPA infused with CBD and hemp juice, and Herbs of a Feather, which is a basil-lemon sour infused with CBD. “Doing this beer opened up a whole new consumer segment to us,” said co-founder of Coalition Brewing, Elan Ealsky. This raises a good point because there are a lot of beer drinkers, and maybe not quite as many who know about cannabis and CBD. By brewing up CBD into a more destigmatized form, a.k.a beer, more people may be willing to listen to the list of benefits it can offer. One regional beer ambassador said the brewer would love to roll out more CBD-infused beer to deliver to bars and breweries across the country. With that in mind, keep your taste buds on the lookout for a CBD brew to make its way into your local tap.
Even nationally-recognized Lagunitas Brewing Co. out of California released a limited edition batch of beer called Supercritical, which brewed an ale with cannabis terpenes — the aromatic compounds that give cannabis its unique smell and distinct flavors.3 The beer was only released on draft in California with samples sent out to a select few reviewers. While there are currently no immediate plans for a national distribution, the director of communications for Lagunitas, Karen Hamilton, said they were working “through some additional paperwork” and depending on when that’s complete, they’ll determine “when we are brewing it again.”
The beer industry has seen some ridiculous returns in recent years as more collaborations and infusions continue to pour in. At every pour, drinkers and brewers alike are looking for the next big thing to happen in beer. It began with local breweries, along with craft and local selections of different beers never before attempted. It seems that the buzz around beer is back again, and CBD hopes to be the next big ingredient to show up in your pint.
And with that we ask, can there be a more perfect infusion?