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Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Willamette Valley Growers Working on Cannabis-Hop Hybrid

Okay, this isn't something you see every day. A group of Willamette Valley hop-growers are working on a hybrid plant containing both cannabis and humulus lupulus. Keep in mind that Washington state currently has recreational marijuana, and Oregon will have it as of next year. Keep further in mind that both hops and mary jane are members of the Cannabaceae family, so this may actually work:
Growers have been tinkering with hybridization in order to produce hops with lightly psychoactive properties as well as pleasant flavors and aromas. Gayle Goschie, one of the growers of the experimental plants, says they've had luck with a variety she calls Harlequin Cascade. "We picked a cannabis strain known for moderate THC levels and high CBDs to go with the classic Cascade hop. The flavor isn't quite right, but it produces a really mellow sensation."

Goschie has been working with Oakshire brewer Matt Van Wyk to figure out how the strain works in beer. In order to convert the psychoactive properties of the cannabis, the hops must be heated, but Van Wyk has found that the effect is best when the hops are added late in the boil. "For one thing, they're really potent--stanky, dank hops. You put them in at the beginning of the boil and it's like eating hash. You also lose some of the effect. The sweet spot is about five minutes before knockout. That's when you get the best effect--though they are still pretty dank."
Even though both alcohol and marijuana will be legal, it's not clear that the combo will be. (Remember the Four Loko debacle?) But hops take a long time to develop--up to ten years to get a new strain to market--but it sounds like this is experimental R & D. Hop growers are used to working with plants that never go to market. And this was funny:
Goschie admitted that she didn't ever expect to see the hops go into commercial beer. But she added, "there are a ton of homebrewers out there."
That there are.  Stay tuned.


  1. I hate April 1st...

  2. Oh, come on. It's like a community-wide performance art show. Surrender to the day...