Though cannabis/hemp and hops belong to the same Cannabaceae family, cannabis offers an even broader range of flavors and aromatics than what can be found in hops.
During last year’s Feast Portland, a food and drink festival celebrating the bounty of the Pacific Northwest, Jeremy Plumb, Director of Production Science for Prūf Cultivar, spoke at an educational panel titled “Cannabis & Cocktails: Best Buds?.” As much as he enjoys a good cocktail, Plumb used this opportunity to elaborate on his affection for combining cannabis and hops.
While cannabis/hemp and humulus (hops) belong to the same Cannabaceae family, Plumb commented how cannabis offers an even broader range of flavors and aromatics than what can be found in hops. “Any aroma found in nature can be found in some variety of this plant,” he exclaimed.
Later in an email interview, Plumb elaborated on the connection between these two close cousins by noting that the entire cannabis genome is contained within the hops genome. However, while these two plants have a lot in common, including similar pathways by which a wide array of aroma compounds are produced, there are many important distinctions.
In addition, the fact that humulus doesn’t produce cannabinoids, such as THC, CBD and CBC, hops contain far less options from an aromatics and flavor perspective than what one finds in cannabis. According to Plumb, “From a brewing perspective, the large quantities of terpenes like linalool, limonene, beta-caryophyllene and carene are quite fascinating and more likely to be used in the near term.
Terpenes and other categories of aroma compounds in cannabis will offer craft brewers a revolutionary pallet of new aromas and flavors in the brewing arts.
Plumb points to practice such as dry hemping, whirlpool hemp extract additions, and tinctures that are already being researched by large breweries such as New Belgium, which famously released the first nationally distributed hemp beer, The Hemperor.
As an aside, the availability of these new aromas coincide with increased consumption of IPA worldwide, especially Hazy IPAs. “I believe we will see craft hemp aroma crops becoming a lucrative source of revenue for farmers, and an ideal source of innovation for brewers and beer enjoyers in the near future,” stated Plumb.
However, Plumb points to the current difficulties in bringing CBD infused beers to market. “This category of compounds will remain contentious for some time, and will very slowly be adopted into brewing due to safety concerns, regulatory issues, and a lack of research.” Hence, trying to find a CBD beer at a local brew pub maybe a challenge at this juncture.
For example, in Oregon despite the advances made in creating CBD beers by local craft brewers like Coalition Brewing, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission banned CBD infused beer from being sold in bars, restaurants, and grocery stores. Such limitations appear to remain in place while the FDA fine tunes its regulations on infusing CBD into food and beverage products.
While one can still find non-alcoholic CBD drinks on the market, those wishing to experience the combination of CBD and hops can always add CBD drops to their beer should they be unable to find CBD beers available in their market.