Initiative 502, passed by voters in November 2012, legalized the possession and use of moderate amounts of marijuana in Washington State. When the bill passed, I wanted to do an article about homebrewers using marijuana buds in the brewing process.
I got in touch with Gary Glass, the director of the Boulder-based American Homebrewers Association and asked him a few questions. He told me he didn’t expect to see that happen even though cannabis and hops come from the same family. He explained that although THC (the psychoactive component in marijuana) is alcohol soluble, most beers are not high enough in alcohol to successfully extract THC. In other words, you wouldn’t get high from drinking it.
In addition to the solubility issues, he said, “I don’t think cannabis would have the same bittering effect.” He also speculated on the financial aspect of subbing cannabis for hops by saying, “Hops are currently the most expensive they’ve ever been at $2 per ounce. I don’t think we’ll ever see marijuana approach prices anywhere close to that low.” (note that this pricing information comes from November of 2012)
I ended up putting a stop to the article. It didn’t seem worth it. And look, I’m not really for or against the legalization of marijuana, and I’m not here to express an opinion on it, but when I heard about this beer called “Joint Effort,” I thought there’d be enough interested readers out there to revisit the issue. So, let me tell you a little bit about that.
Last week, Redhook Brewery announced the release of this new hemp beer called “Joint Effort,” brewed in collaboration with Seattle’s Hilliard’s beer. If you didn’t catch the wordplay in the title, the beer was made to celebrate the legalization of marijuana in Washington State. It’s made to celebrate marijuana, not made with it.
The Redhook press release describes Joint Effort as a 5.6% session ale brewed with hemp seeds. “Dry-hopped with Zeus, Cascade, and Summit hops, Joint Effort has a dank, resinous hop aroma balanced by nutty, earthiness from hemp seeds. It’s the perfect brew for hanging with your buds, grabbing some munchies and enjoying a beer.” The language seems a bit forced here, but I can dig it.
Hilliard’s Beer co-founder Ryan Hilliard said, “Voting to legalize marijuana use in Washington is another example of the pioneering spirit that makes this state so great.”
Joint Effort will be poured by a handle shaped like a bright yellow bong, as seen in the picture to the right. The beer is now on draft in select Washington bars and will launch in 22-ounce bottles under the Blueline Series in late October in Washington State only. Locations can be found using Redhook’s Beer Finder.
I assume Joint Effort might upset a few people, but I’m thinking most drinkers will be excited about it. I tend to think that the craft beer crowd is fairly forward-thinking, and regardless of their feelings on this issue, if the beer tastes good, they’ll drink it. Kudos to these guys for trying something different. I think they did a stellar job in naming the beer and creating a unique tap handle for it. If anyone in Washington has gotten a taste, let us know what you think.