Beer world buzzing over new cannabis IPA
- Lagunitas Brewing has developed a new IPA made with marijuana terpenes, which are aromatic compounds of fragrant oils from the cannabis plant. Dubbed SuperCritical, the new beer is a limited release and currently only available in California, according to Fortune.
- The terpenes contain no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis — so drinking SuperCritical won't impart any psychedelic effect.
- To make its new beer, the company used hops from Yakima, Washington, and partnered with cannabis concentrate producer AbsoluteXtracts and vape cartridge maker CannaCraft, both of northern California.
Lagunitas, originally a regional craft beer company and now wholly owned by Heineken International, is not the first brewer to turn out a beer made with cannabis compounds. Dad and Dudes' Breweria of Aurora, Colorado, has produced General Washington's Secret Stash — made with about 4 mg cannabinoids produced and sold as industrial hemp extract. That product also contains no THC.
It's uncertain how broad consumer acceptance will be for the new IPA — or for any cannabis-infused beers. The novelty factor alone will undoubtedly attract plenty of people wanting to try it out. According to Fortune, SuperCritical has a "very earthy taste with hints of pine and citrus—very different from that of a typical IPA."
It's not a big stretch to combine cannabis and hops in beer brewing, since they are genetically related members of the cannabinaceae family and the key ingredient they share are terpenes. It's another question whether beer products containing both ingredients will spark a nationwide trend.
One party with obvious confidence in Lagunitas is Heineken, which bought a 50% stake in the California-based craft beer company in 2015 and followed up by purchasing the remaining half in May. Heineken definitely has muscle since it's the largest brewer in Europe and one of the top three beer manufacturers in the world. Its involvement boosted distribution of Lagunitas products in Europe as well as in Canada.
Lagunitas is more familiar with cannabis than some beer makers out there. Founded in 1993, the company had its brewer's license suspended in 2005 after some marijuana-related arrests at the brewery. In a nod to that event, one of the company's branded products is Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale, while other new Lagunitas beers debut on April 20 — unofficially celebrated as the day to celebrate smoking marijuana.