Humulus Lupulus, more commonly known as “hops”, are easily the most prominent ingredient in beer. Using the term “dank” or “weed-like” when describing in India pale ale isn’t just a fun descriptor, but pretty accurate. Marijana and Humulus share the same family – Cannabaceae. The very unique scents by both hops and weed are not only familial traits but quite complimentary of each other.
Terpenes are hydrocarbons derived from the essential oils of hemp plants, and a major component of their resin. Terpenes give plants their aroma, taste and even color. While marijuana is still illegal in a majority of U.S. states, the flavor terpenes – which lack the psychoactive cannabinoids Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) have the blessing of the U.S. government.
Taking some of the all-stars in hops, and combining with the “dankness” of weed aromas is heating up in craft beer. Atlanta based SweetWater has had 420 Pale Ale for years, sporting a weed-culture undertone, only containing hops from the Cannabaceae family.
This month, SweetWater 420 Strain: G13 IPA debuts on draft, marrying hops and weed aroma mimicking terpenes into truly (dare we say dank again-) experience.
The origin of G13, or “Government Indica Strain 13” marijuana is the subject of various rumors, including one where the government created this “super-strain”. It was even mentioned in the movie American Beauty back in 1999. It’s easily one of the most well-known strains known to pop-culture after first appearing sometime in the 1970’s.
SweetWater has been experimenting for months with various iterations of plant-derived terpenes with cannabis aromatics, and India pale ales. The final recipe uses a proprietary terpene blend on the backdrop of a dry-hopped IPA that smells like the infamous G13 strain. Per head brewer Nick Nock, “The [IPA] flavor was undeniable, and a no-brainer for this first release. We used Columbus and Simcoe hops in both the boil and double dry-hop, plus flaked oats and wheat for a smooth finish.”
Let us say this. You know damn well when someone opens a bottle of 420 Strain: G13 IPA by smell alone. When Beer Street Journal published a photo of 420 Strain prior to this piece. Many followers made allusions to New Belgium’s recent terpene heavy release – The Hemperor. That beer also smelled like Willy Nelson’s house or a Widespread Panic concert. Sadly, so many drinkers told us while the beer’s aroma was very much on point, but the beer’s taste didn’t match. New Belgium does fantastic work, but that the disparity for many was hard to get past.
SweetWater’s 420 Strain: G13 doesn’t stop at the extremely notable aroma. The brewery got the IPA recipe right to boot. The entire package is dank, juicy, and incredibly aromatic. The brewer and laboratory work really shines in this creation. Keep in mind, just because you’ve had one IPA, doesn’t mean you’ve had them all. Same goes for terpene beers.
When you pour it in a glass, you get a face full of the G13 aroma, like opening a bag of fresh marijuana. And though it smells like the infamous cannabis strain, it tastes like a super delicious, nice and soft IPA with a clean finish.- SweetWater Brewing
The brewery is creating a full “420 Strain” series using various cannabis mimicking terpenes.
SweetWater 420 Strain: G13 is hitting taps in all of the brewery’s distribution states this summer. Expect new black bottles and black cans coming in the fall. The brewing team is working on new recipes for the 420 Strain Series, including a porter or stout.
Availability: Draft (Summer). Cans/ Bottles (Fall)
Debut: June 22, 2018
6% ABV, 48 IBUs