A FEW MONTHS BACK, I was at a cannabis dinner event. I got to talking with the gentleman sitting across from me, and he mentioned he was a brewery owner with a good news/bad news scenario.
The good news: The OLCC had approved his request to brew a beer infused with cannabidiol, or CBD, the non-psychoactive component of cannabis prized for its medicinal properties. The bad news? He had not been able to find a source in Oregon for CBD, despite numerous attempts.
Although I had spent the past 90 minutes getting all the dinner guests high (once again I was at a cannabis event where no one seemed to have brought any weed), I had the presence of mind to mention that I knew of someone who could supply him with CBD—Jerry Norton, who I profiled in a column last year [Cannabuzz, Dec 2, 2015]. With resin-coated fingers, I typed out a quick email intro during the cab ride home.
I recently got a response from my dinner companion—Elan Walsky of Coalition Brewing, to be precise—reminding me of that conversation, and thanking me profusely for the introduction. He wrote that it had resulted in a commercial Oregon brewery’s first CBD-infused beer (with credit to Half Baked Labs for assistance with flavor matching), and he asked if I wanted to stop by and try some. Who says no to such an offer? Not me.
I asked Walsky why he wanted to pair CBD and beer.
“Our goal with this project was to showcase the synergy of hops and cannabis,” he explained. “We chose to accomplish this by not only infusing the beer with CBD, but also by incorporating elements of the plant to augment and complement traditional ingredients and flavors of the beer. The base style of this beer is a West Coast IPA—light, crisp, hoppy, bitter, and refreshing. In order to complement the natural bitterness of the hops, we used hemp juice (essentially wheat grass juice, but from hemp). The hemp juice provides pleasant grassy notes that intermingle with the hops’ bitterness to present as a clean, refreshing bitterness, and gives an impression of the cannabis plant.”
Walsky went on to say that the beer uses Centennial and Cascade hops, which are well known for their citrus flavors. “The goal here is to mirror some of the citrus-like notes from the terpenes in the CBD and create a rounded whole. To elevate the citrus notes a bit, we also use a small amount of citrus juice during fermentation.” Coalition’s hope is that the beer, which clocks in at 6 percent ABV and 60 IBU, will have crossover appeal for beer aficionados and cannabis users alike.
As Walsky filled me a growler, we talked about why he couldn’t have just tossed in a handful of buds while brewing the beer.
“As you know, the combination of alcohol and THC is prohibited by the OLCC. It’s still not clear if anyone has ever safely smoked a joint and drank a beer at the same time, but hopefully some peer-reviewed studies are underway as we speak,” he smiled.
“Luckily for us, THC is only one of the things in cannabis that make us like it so much. Since we can’t make a THC beer, what we’ve elected to do is infuse this beer with CBD in an effort to showcase and augment the effects and flavors of hops. So as an added bonus, you’ve got about 10 MG of CBD per glass. Smoking a CBD-rich strain has long been regarded by people in the know as a traditional hangover cure, so it is possible that adding it to beer may result in a less traumatic morning after.”
The beer drank exactly as promised—a crisp, citrusy offering with grassy notes. My growler was empty when I woke up the next day, and indeed, the morning greeted me with minimal trauma.
Up next: Trying one while smoking a joint... uh, for those peer-reviewed studies Walsky mentioned.