Holiday season has arrived and for many Paradise friends that means kicking back with a couple of beers and a few buds to relax on a summer’s evening. The latest twist on that tradition has been the introduction of cannabis beer. Some see this as little more than a marketing ploy while others see it as a natural progression on cannabis’ journey to mainstream cultural acceptance.
Do you like cannabis and beer? Do you like mixing weed smoking with beer drinking? Do you like your beer infused with cannabis? It’s an intricate relationship with several permeations, so let’s take a closer look at the latest trend for cannabis beer!
Meet the Family! Beer and Bud
Did you know that cannabis and hops (the main ingredient in beer) are related by nature? They are both members of the Cannabaceae plant family, which share distinctive features such as actinomorphic flowers (displaying radial symmetry) and short calyxes due to the fact that both are naturally pollinated by the wind.
Both plants share a long history of usage by mankind. There is great discussion about when the first beer was brewed, but archaeological reports suggest it could have been as long as 7000 years ago (in the region we now know as Iran). Strangely enough the history of the use of cannabis hemp as fiber can also be traced back to this region of the world as far back as 8000 BC.
Those two great traditions have officially collided in the Twenty First Century with the rising popularity of cannabis beers.
How Do You Make Cannabis Beer?
Where you live in the world will influence the type of cannabis beer that you will be chugging on this summer holiday. This is because the legality of cannabis influences the beer making process. Some beers are cannabis infused (i.e. they come with extra cannabis!), while other cannabis beers are brewed with cannabis (i.e. parts of the cannabis plant are used in the place of traditional brewing mediums such as barley).
How Cannabis Infused Beer is Made
The USA is leading the way with cannabis infused beverages, and this includes beers. Because of the expanding legal recreational cannabis picture in the USA (17 states and counting by mid 2021), manufacturers have been quick to take Homer Simpson’s favourite thirst quenching substance and replace the alcohol with an infusion of THC or CBD (usually around 10mg).
In the USA, these beers are alcohol free, due to the safety concerns of mixing alcohol and cannabis in the same can – without the natural safety brake of the infamous ‘whitey’ experienced by many visitors to Amsterdam who have smoked strong weed on top of too much alcohol. So in effect it’s a beer flavored cannabis infused beverage…
Verdict: Infused cannabis ‘beer’ will get you stoned, but not drunk.
In Europe you can find brews that have alcohol along with an infusion of CBD (due to the illegality of THC) which is said to add a ‘relaxation’ element to the beer drinking experience, although how much more relaxing than a ‘few’ beers on their own is debatable.
How Cannabis Brewed Beer is Made
More common in Europe is cannabis beer that has been brewed using parts of the plant (such as stalks and roots). The ingredients for commercially available brands tend to come from the hemp plant, which has limited THC and CBD levels, so the ‘cannabis’ in the brew influences little more than the consumer’s taste.
Verdict: This will not get you stoned, but if you drink enough of it you will certainly be drunk!
Can You Make Your Own Cannabis Beer?
The short answer is yes. In terms of flavor, as discussed already, hops and cannabis herb share similar attributes, particularly in terms of terpene profiles. Therefore a strain such as Paradise’s Original White Widow would bring floral and piny notes, while something like Dutch Dragon would bring a more fruity tone to a brew and the Caryophyllene heavy content of Spoetnik #1 would bring more spiciness.
In order to use cannabis buds in the brew process, they need to go through the decarboxylation process in order to activate the THC. This is achieved through heating buds (boiling and then heating in the oven). Once this has been achieved the cannabis can be added to the brew process. However, as anyone with home brewing experience will tell you, there is an art and a skill to making beer and brewing cannabis beer almost certainly adds another layer of complexity!