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."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 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."
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.