There’s an elephant in the room that many are very reluctant to talk about. It’s a polarizing issue that you’re either for or against with very little middle ground. It’s been lionized and demonized as much as it’s been supported by logic, history, fact and the occasional comedy. Its name is cannabis.
Just typing that word, I can hear the conservative readers’ muscles tensing up. Bear with me here. I’m not out to proselytize the virtues of marijuana; I don’t use the stuff. There is enough evidence available that shows that it does, indeed, have numerous medical benefits to those ailing from, say, cancer or AIDS or glaucoma. There’s also the cold, hard fact that no one in history has ever overdosed from this supposedly dastardly weed.
We could go twelve rounds on the topic of the non-THC (the chemical that makes people feel funny when smoking) industrial hemp that has sustainable and highly cost-effective uses in anything from soap to paper to clothing, but we’re not. This is, after all, a beer enthusiasts’ column and I need to stick to topic. To put a very fine point on the subject, I feel I need to remind the public that marijuana’s closest cousin, botanically speaking, is hops.
Before any parents get into a lather over little Johnny running out to score some whole-cone Cascade, let me reiterate that ganja and hops are from the same family Cannabaceae and not a narcotic unto themselves. I only mention this fact to further illustrate that, at least on paper, marijuana really shouldn’t be looked upon as some terrible thing. Hops and weed are related yet no one’s had any serious problem with beer all this time, right? Like Peter Tosh said, “Legalize it.”
At this time, Florida is not one of the states that has backed off its stance about marijuana, so remember, kiddies, it’s not allowed so don’t you do it. Brewers have a different approach to utilize non-THC hemp product, however, and that’s by using hemp seed as an ingredient. It makes sense; if one of beer’s main ingredients is related to that other plant, let’s see how they play together. Nectar Brewing has just such a product called Humboldt Brown. It’s off-brown with red highlights around the edges and a tan head that leaves behind sticky lacing. As a brown ale, all the classic scents are there; caramel malt, toasted nuts and a little toffee. What the hemp seed does is introduce a toasty, buttery note to the bready, cocoa-ish, light coffee-like flavors along with a slick and slippery texture. Just enough hops show up at the end to impart a twinge of bitterness to the finish.
A beverage this good should be illegal. Oh, wait… forget I said that.