Earlier this year Oregonians rejoiced when recreational marijuana became legal to grow, buy, and use. Thanks to Measure 91 the people of Oregon are able to grow four plants per household, purchase medical and recreational ganja from state regulated stores, and possess 8oz of recreational pot at home and 1oz on their person. I’ll let you do the math when 1 plant produces a conservative 1 pound of dried product (16oz). Legal growing around these parts started on July 1st and dispensaries opened their doors to recreational users this past October 1st.
Since then we’ve seen a huge boom in products containing Mary Jane. From vape-pens and e-cigs to oils, salves, and balms to your original brownies to chocolate covered pretzels. I’ve seen energy drinks, hard candies, and even cannabis infused tea.
But I haven’t seen a weed beer, legally commercially.
There are lots of breweries and brewers who have expressed their love of the bud. Some even try to brew so the beer’s hop profile is comparable to an ounce of dope, or straight up name the beer “Smells Like Weed.” More famous breweries like Oskar Blues only alludes to grass with their Pinner offering – a brew you can “sip, sip, give.” Some are even famous for being cheeky and brilliant like Lagunitas Censored AKA The Kronik Ale whose label was rejected by the federal agency TTB. Kettle House up in Montana had a seasonal called Hemptober Spliff and even brews a series called Bongwater that uses actual hemp seeds. Red Hook and Hilliard‘s brewed a hemp beer (or what the industry is calling Hempen Ale) called “Joint Effort,” made with regular hemp seeds and Humboldt’s Hemp Ale is made with toasted hemp seeds. Dad & Dudes Breweria in Colorado infuses some of their brews with hemp oil extract creating the Sativa IPA and Indica Double IPA.
Here in Eugene, brewing with just seeds and extracts weren’t good enough for Mancäve Brewing Company. Brandon Woodruff, founder and owner, wanted flowers. Real, fresh, hemp flowers. He created Hippie Joe, a locally sourced hemp beer. They chose to pair with Oregon Hemp Company, Oregon’s largest industrial hemp farm for the product. Mancäve used about a pound of hemp during boil, and again afterwards during the dry-hop.
In Oregon the state government requires all herb to be tested for mold, pesticides, and cannabinoids (THC, CBD). THC is Tetrahydrocannabinol, and CBD is Cannabidiol both of which are the main psychoactive chemicals found in the chronic. Since ORHempCo had already analyzed their product for these characteristics, Mancäve was only required to analyze the potency of the brew. Specifically, it had to be confirmed that this brew had below 0.03% THC. This is the level where it can be used in beer legally.
0.03% THC is 3000 parts per million (ppm) which means in order to sell legally Mancäve needs each 16.9oz bottle needs have 1.5 grams or less of THC. After getting the results back we determined that one bottle of Hippie Joe only contains 0.000012 grams of THC. Which means there is no psychoactive effects. It could mean, however, failure of a drug test – in the same sense that a eating a poppy seed could fail one.
This is an amazing beer “The Hemp used gives it a very nice melon and cucumber flavor,” says Woodruff. Hippie Joe is a northwest style Session IPA which comes in at 50 IBUs and an easily drinkable 5.4% ABV. The malt is well balanced and there’s some dank aroma go add to the experience. There isn’t a set release date yet, but you can visit www.mancavebrewingcompany.com for updates and more information.
I’ve often found myself wondering when the first marijuana beer was going to walk through my laboratory doors. I couldn’t be happier that it was a great, local company who has nothing but beer quality on the brain. And while we still haven’t gotten to marijuana beer proper quite yet, this is the next step in normalizing a natural growing plant. Normalizing and, of course, using it as an ingredient in beer.
Did I miss any key hemp or marijuana beers out there? Leave a comment about your favorite one.