Dank, piney, citrusy, skunky: Hops and weed might look alike, smell alike and even taste alike, but it wasn’t until recently that local brewers started exploring the aromatic possibilities of combining these two green, resinous flowers.
Last summer, downtown LA’s Concrete Jungle Brewing Project opened with a lineup of old-world and new-school beers, including an IPA now called Hashtag 710, infused with an over-the-counter version of the non-psychotropic part of the cannabis plant, CBD. Around the same time, the effortlessly experimental Transplants Brewing in Palmdale released an IPA with hop hash and hemp CBD. Called CatBirD, it used Columbus, Summit and Idaho 7 hops to evoke the flavor and aroma of your local dispensary’s finest, while also offering a modest dose of CBD (according to commissioned lab tests posted on their website, a pint contains 10 milligrams).
But Long Beach Beer Lab coined a whole new term when it started “dry terping” some of its hoppy beers earlier this year. Terpenes are aromatic hydrocarbons usually derived from fats and alcohols that are found on the oily exterior of some plants. It’s the plant’s essential oil, so to speak, and it can smell like anything from lavender to cloves. When you get into the hops-weed family, these terpenes all hang out in the same dank-citrus zone, which is why they tend to taste and smell similar.
The cannabis industry has been foaming over terpene extraction lately, using techniques borrowed from the fragrance industry to create a new wave of aromatic compounds from choice strains. Long Beach Beer Lab brewmaster Levi Fried has made at least four “dry terped” brews, meaning they were given a dose of aromatic cannabis terpenes after fermentation, just as you would with oily, fresh hops when dry hopping.
Last month at the Beer Lab, there was an IPA brewed with resinous, piney CTZ, Azacca and Centennial hops that was dry terped with Sour Diesel terpenes. On draft during this weekend’s pretty-official weed holiday are two dry-terped gems: Larry’s OG Lager offers Larry OG terpenes with piney, herbaceous Saphir hops, and Just the Terp was dry hopped with 007, CTZ and Centennial hops, then dosed appropriately with more Sour Diesel terpenes. Happy 420!
Long Beach Beer Lab, 518 W. Willow St., Long Beach, (562) 270-3253; lbbeer.com.
Sarah Bennett is a freelance journalist who has spent nearly a decade covering food, music, craft beer, arts, culture and all sorts of bizarro things that interest her for local, regional and national publications.