This script is from the second season of Beer Notes, which you can listen to at beernotes.org.

The fascination with cannabis continues, and not surprisingly, craft brewers are finding creative ways to infuse this plant into their beers. On this episode of Beer Notes, we’re discussing how craft brewers are using derivatives of the marijuana plant.

Some states have legalized medicinal use of cannabis while others have even legalized its recreational use. Federal law, however, continues to prohibit the infusion of THC-laden products into any alcoholic beverage. These laws have resulted in a bifurcated approach to brewing new beverages.

Keith Villa, the Denver, Colorado-based brewmaster behind the Blue Moon Belgian Style Wheat Ale, created a dealcoholized THC-infused version of his famous Blue Moon in 2018. The beer is called Grainwave, which contains 5 mg doses of fast-acting THC and is sold in four-packs at Colorado dispensaries.

Villa said, “For those who desire the sensations of marijuana, cannabis de-alcoholized craft beer represents a more socially acceptable way to consume THC.”

The Grainwave was one of the first “beers” on the market to contain THC, although craft beer made with hemp has been trendy for the past few years; Hemp effects the beer’s flavor profile, but it doesn’t get the drinker high. Now, THC-infused beers are gaining traction in states where marijuana is legal. They’re brewed like any other craft beer, but with THC added into the yeast. The cannabinoids provide a slightly different kind of bitterness than hops do.

Frederick, Maryland’s Flying Dog Brewery wants to emulate Blue Moon’s brewmaster and release a nonalcoholic beer containing cannabis for medicinal use called Hop Chronic IPA. The goal is to give patients therapeutic cannabinoids CBD, CBG, and THC via a different delivery system than just smoke inhalation.

Baltimore Business Journal reported that Flying Dog and their collaborator, Green Leaf Medical Cannabis, must first get permission from the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission because the legality of cannabis-infused foods or drinks, known as “edibles,” is a gray area in Maryland. Quasi-edible products like iced teas and mints have been approved by the commission in the past.

Hops and hemps are very close relatives and share many chemical characteristics, says Bill Stewart, who helped Coalition Brewing in Oregon develop their CBD beers. Kiley Hoyt, Coalition’s owner, said, “We learned about the unique flavors, aromatics, and chemical properties of hemp and CBD and how to properly and safely incorporate them into our beer.”

No matter where you stand on the issue of legalizing cannabis, you can count on craft brewers to be creative and follow the trends. For Beer Notes, this is Anne Neely.

Kristin Helf
Author: Kristin Helf

Kristin is a writer and picture-taker in Ocean City, Maryland. She likes puppies, pumpkin ales and watching movies for the Ocean City Film Festival in her spare time.

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