If you’re a hop-head, you probably already know that humulus lupulus and cannabis sativa share similar aromatic compounds called terpenes, which is why the nose of many a resinous IPA smells a whole helluva lot like something you might pick up at your local marijuana dispensary. And it turns out that hops and weed are, in fact, related—they both belong to the family Cannabaceae—so those shared dank notes might not come as much of a surprise. Perhaps that’s why beer and cannabis seem like natural partners, with brewers now incorporating CBD into their brews and THC in their nonalcoholic options.
With 4/20, the nation’s unofficial weed holiday, just around the corner, we decided to round up some of our favorite dank beers to celebrate hops’ more infamous cousin. If you don’t partake, or live in a state where you legally can’t, these are all excellent options—but if you do decide to crossfade, make sure to do it in the correct order.
Named after the weed-fiend teens who purportedly invented the term “420,” this offering from Lagunitas “reinforces the beer and weed connection with a deeply dank and resinous nose,” writes Tucker Anders. “The Waldos and Lagunitas have struck a balance between dank, herbal hops and just enough malty sweetness. In doing so, they have turned an interesting story into a delicious beer.”
“The taste of Hop Hash comes at you in an unexpected way,” says Tobias Carroll, who gives this ale high marks for balancing bitter and sweet hop flavors. The aroma is a different story: “Inhale this IPA and you’ll soon pick up more than a whiff of hops—perhaps unsurprisingly, given the beer’s name. The effect is almost floral. There’s a slight citrus tang present as well. The overall effect bridges the gap between sweetness and an earthier overtone that adds some depth to the beer.”
“High Coup masquerades as a weed beer,” writes Jerard Fagerberg, who likens the beer to a “hybrid strain” of New England and West Coast IPA styles. “Therefore, it’s not surprising that [this] spring seasonal was released on April 20 and features a pipe-laden gas mask on the label.”
With the extremely Citra-forward King Sue, “you get fragrances of pineapple, mango, mandarin orange and grapefruit,” writes Jerard Fagerberg. “All the fruits smell like they’ve fallen from the tree and ripened to a fragrant mush. Dig beneath that layer to unearth grassiness and ganja-like dank.”
“New Belgium’s the Hemperor HPA might be the first be to tout successfully capturing ‘hemp terpene flavors in a beer,’ which means it’s unabashedly dank,” writes Robbie Sgro. “Channeling the smell and taste of marijuana via hemp seeds, this beer hits its goal of being ‘The World’s Dankest Ale’ in more ways than one without a trace of THC. For those clamoring for a weed-and-beer mashup, Hemperor delivers.”