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Hops and Hemp: Cannabis cousin pairs well, but which beer is best with weed?

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If you love cannabis and you love beer, you’ve probably discovered that, like sprinkles and ice cream, the two are often better together. The reason? The hops in beer have similar properties to cannabis, meaning beer and weed have a lot more in common than you might expect.

Many will recognize the four key ingredients in beer: malt, yeast, water, and hops, but what less people know is that hops and cannabis are close cousins in the plant kingdom. These two plants share several terpenes in common, including myrcene, pinene, and humulene. Terpenes are what give cannabis and beer their flavor and aroma, which is why people use words like earthy, skunky, and floral to describe both weed and beer. It’s also why the aroma and taste of cannabis and beer naturally pair well together.

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But beer doesn’t just taste great with weed. It can also enhance your high. Several studies have concluded that THC levels in the blood rise when cannabis is consumed with alcohol, meaning you’ll probably feel more high if you drink a beer before you smoke than you would without the alcohol in your system. This could be one of the reasons why, besides tobacco, cannabis is the intoxicant most commonly used with alcohol by those who drink.

This also means it’s very possible to have too much of a good thing. For many consumers, especially those who are inexperienced with cannabis, alcohol, or both, consuming beer and alcohol together will amplify the intoxicating effects of these substances. A 2016 study showed that those who use cannabis and alcohol together are at least twice as likely to make irresponsible social decisions, drive drunk, or harm themselves while intoxicated. No matter what your level of experience is, consume prudently and responsibly.

National Beer Day is just around the corner, so we wanted to know: How should cannabis consumers pair beer with weed? To find out, we asked the experts at Province Brands, an innovative, plant-based beer company that thinks about ways to balancing cannabis and alcohol to optimize fun, health, and safety every day. According to Province Brands Brewmaster Travis Dafoe, there’s a beer for every kind of cannabis consumer.

Cheers!

1. IPA/Pale Ale

Since hops and cannabis share several prominent terpenes, “hoppy” beers (i.e. beers in which the tastes and aromas of hops are prevalent) naturally pair best with cannabis. For this reason, Dafoe said IPA’s should be your first choice when looking for a beer to compliment the flavors of weed.

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“The best beer to compliment the ‘skunky’ and ‘dank’ aromas of cannabis would be something equally strong and aromatic: an IPA or Pale Ale,” Dafoe told GreenState. “An IPA style beer is heavy on bitterness and hop aromas, which are great for masking and complimenting the natural pungency of the cannabis plant.”

2. Stouts/Porters

For those less inclined to relish the strong flavor of cannabis, Dafoe recommends more flavorful beers that will override the bitter taste.

“Some stouts and porters have earthy, more natural notes that lend well to the natural green flavors of cannabis. These styles of beer are also much heavier bodied and pack a lot more flavor than other styles,” Dafoe told GreenState. “With a common drawback of smoking cannabis being the taste in your mouth, a heavier-bodied, more flavorful brew is exactly what’s needed to help you forget about that weed taste.”

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Dafoe added that stouts and porters are more filling than other beers, making them a great solution for another issue cannabis consumers face: the munchies.

3. Blonde Ales/Lagers

Like beer, a huge part of the cannabis experience is the environment in which you consume it. Since many cannabis consumers enjoy smoking a joint outside, Dafoe said a lighter beer may match the vibe more than anything else.

“The environment you’re in can dictate the style of beer you’re thirsty for,” Dafoe told GreenState. “Cannabis is commonly consumed on beautiful days, like on a dock at your cottage, and when it’s consumed for some quick relaxation, a light, easy drinking beer can help you sink further into your surroundings. The best pairing for a warm, sunny day is a crisp, clean blonde ale or lager.”

Elissa Esher is Assistant Editor at GreenState. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Guardian, Brooklyn Paper, Religion Unplugged, and Iridescent Women. Send inquiries and tips to elli.esher@hearst.com.