Written by Tom Becham
Please note: Neither PGA, the Professor’s staff, nor any of the image providers, condone making “pot beer.” This article is provided as an information only source for those curious regarding past tense use of this federally illegal ingredient in brewing. Any attempts to use this information illegally, well, you’re on your own kid!-PGA
Besides drinking, critiquing and writing about beer, I also occasionally brew my own at home. Inevitably, since I live in California, someone will ask me if it’s possible to brew a beer with cannabis (pot, marijuana, chronic, etc.) in it. More specifically, cannabis in the beer AND retaining the effects cannabis is known for among those who partake of it. For the longest time, I had no clue how to answer that question.
A couple years ago, I got the answer.
At the time in question, I belonged to a home brewing group. A friend of mine brewed a cannabis beer. He will remain nameless due to potential legal issues. Despite the legality of cannabis in California, there are still federal legal conflicts.
First, as many people are aware, the oil in cannabis which makes it psychoactive, is not water soluble, but is fat soluble. That’s why you see it used in chocolate, tinctures, oils, etc. What is not commonly known is that cannabis oil is also *alcohol* soluble. However, it seems that the normal fermentation process of home brewing only extracts a little of the cannabis oil needed for desired effect. For maximum extraction, a higher concentration of alcohol than found in beer is necessary. On that basis, my friend decided to soak the “medication” in a French press for a week, just barely covering all of it with Everclear, a 151-proof neutral grain spirit. Within a week of this soaking, the liquid was a bright emerald green in color.
The beer style my friend chose was also done specifically with cannabis in mind. Since cannabis and hops are in the same botanical family and very closely related, he decided that a hoppy beer style was best. Rather than going the traditional IPA or Double IPA route, he went for a Saison. Additionally, he substituted the cannabis for the equivalent weight in hops (effectively, the beer used both hops and cannabis in about a 3:1 ratio).
The next decision was picking a recipe. The one he chose suggested a 5 gallon batch, with 2 ounces of cannabis. As the person publishing this recipe on line was what we would call a “seasoned user” of cannabis, the decision was modified for safety and cost considerations. (NOTE: This is NOT a reference to anyone at PGA- The Professor.) If this batch was ruined for any reason, it would be a very expensive mistake, containing two ounces of pot! Therefore, my friend used the recipe in question, but modified for a 2.5 gallon batch, with only half an ounce of cannabis.
The base Saison was brewed normally, up to and including fermentation. The two ounces or so of cannabis-infused Everclear was only mixed into the fermented beer just before bottling.
A couple observations:
1) The Everclear-cannabis concoction will give the subsequent beer a greenish tint. It’s probably unavoidable.
2) The ABV of the beer was bumped up from about 6.5% to almost 9%. That’s why my friend used as little Everclear as he could. Everclear was NOT evident in the taste.
3) The pot was evident in the flavor of the beer, but, as previously stated, blended well with standard hops. The product tasted like a funky-hopped Saison.
4) The effects of one 12-ounce bottle of this beer were…interesting. Basically, one was good for an evening.
In short, cannabis beer is doable, and depending on your proclivities, worth the time and expense. Again, I must state that I am not condoning this where it isn’t legal.
Courtesy That Oregon Life Shop
This is Tom Becham. He is a great writer. For any information beyond that please consult our almost as unreliable as Curveball source: Deep Quaff Sipper. No relation to Deep Throat. That we here at PGA know of.