Looking to spice up your next smoke session? You may not have to go further than your fridge to reap the rewards of a frosty beer paired with your prized bud. Believe it or not, beer and weed compliment each other nicely and when paired correctly, help bring out previously untested flavours and amplified effects.

With craft beer and cannabis surging in popularity, so many varieties of each exist, thanks to years of innovation and dedication from cultivators, processors and customers. In response to innumerable beer styles and thousands of terpene varieties in cannabis, strain critics have emerged around the web to help navigate befuddled consumers through the process of selecting a strain to suit every brew. Below, we explore why beer and weed go so well together, and how to marry the two together for optimal results.

FLAVOUR: ALL IN THE TERPENES

Given the details, it’s not surprising that beer and cannabis are great foils to one another. Cannabis flowers naturally feature a complex spectrum of aromatic terpenes that mirror many of the flavours in beer. Terpenes are compounds which are secreted in the trichomes of cannabis flowers in the same way as THC and CBD. Terpenes are responsible for producing the deep, pleasing aromas and tastes that cannabis smokers crave - they are also the basis for pairing weed and beer.

The spectrum of pungent terpenes existing in nature is vast and hits on many classic flavour notes like citrus, (produced by the terpene limonene) pine, (produced by alpha/beta-pinene) and floral (produced by linalool) which are also popular notes tasted in different beer varieties.

barley cannabis field beer terpene

BEER: A MIXED BOTTLE

The flavour of your favourite beer is the result of several different elements that each act as building blocks to create a well-rounded finished product. Fundamentally, beers are made by fermenting the mash bill, (mix of grains) which automatically imbues certain flavours. Additionally, many beers feature hops, which adds bitterness on a scale from barely there to intensely bitter. Hops also contain terpenes, but they don’t assert themselves with the same gusto as with cannabis. Some brewers infuse their beers with additives like fruit and wood chips, which adds an extra layer of flavour and makes up for the lack of strong terpene content.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD PAIRING?

It’s clear that beer and cannabis are individually flavour packed and therefore poised for greatness together. But the question is, how does one go about pairing the two?

FLAVOUR

Learning how to pair flavourful beers and skunky strains might seem like a daunting task, but it’s best treated as a fun experiment for you and your tastebuds, at least in the beginning! If you want to help bring out the minor notes in the beer without getting lost in the minutia of extreme subtlety, some experts suggest starting out with rich, distinct beers and flavour-famous strains like Strawberry Cough or Mango Kush that highlight clear tasting notes. Starting out this way allows for you to develop more complex combinations over time, after experimenting with more obvious pairings.

If you happen to prefer some beer styles over others, feel free to circulate a few different strains on the same beer, to see which one works best. The same goes for those who like to use a few particular strains, but are open to a great many beers.

seeds cannabis barley beer

ALCOHOL CONTENT & STRAIN EFFECTS

Two elements you’ll want to consider in each pairing is the alcohol content of your beer and the effects of your strain. In general, those who don’t often mix beer and cannabis should steer clear of experimenting with beers that have a high ABV (alcohol by volume) and strains with staggering levels of THC. As much fun as beer and cannabis can be in concert, they have a pesky habit of inducing unpleasant “crossfades” in high doses.

It’s helpful to know which of the three major strain categories your flower fits into. Indica is a strain known for its couch-lock qualities and pleasant sedation, but it’s not always the best compliment to beer. Alcohol is a depressant and has sedative qualities of its own, so you may want to opt instead for a sativa or hybrid strain.

POPULAR PAIRINGS

At the end of the day, it’s possible you’d rather spend your time enjoying your tasty pairing than fussing over which strain or bottle to select. If this sounds like you, there are some hard and fast pairings that have been time and taste-tested to ensure a quality smoke session every time.

SOUR BEERS: A “CATCH ALL”

One style of beer that consistently pairs well with most cannabis strains is sour beer. Boasting tart, yet fruity notes, this type offers a more quenching experience and reduces the effects of cotton mouth that heavy beers like hop-driven India Pale Ales (IPA) and rich stouts plague consumers with.

IPA'S: PINENE AND LIMONENE

IPA's are known for their intense hop profile and purposeful bitterness; at the same time, they are deep in flavour and benefit from the addition of strains with pinene terpenes, resulting in an aromatic explosion! A current trend with IPA brewing is to introduce strong, tart citrus flavours like grapefruit and orange in the brew, which are further enhanced alongside strains containing limonene. Two classic sativas that can be confidently savoured with IPAs are Jack Herer and Jack The Ripper (JTR) for their notable pine and citrus profiles, respectively.

smoke cannabis pairing beer

STOUTS/PORTERS: MYRCENE

Stouts and Porters are arguably two of the heaviest types of beer out there, making them difficult to enjoy with a meal or drink quickly. These beers feature notes of chocolate and coffee, and indeed are sometimes mixed with an espresso shot or two. For this reason, you’ll want to avoid syrupy sweet strains in favour of muskier, tangier options like White Widow to balance out the sugar. This balance can be effective enough to turn Stout novices into new fans, as they learn to appreciate the unique qualities stouts and porters bring to the table.

PILSNERS: SOMETHING NEW!

Pilsners are popularly selected for their drinkability, mild flavours and usually low alcohol content. With this in mind, Pilsners are a great vessel to try out a new, intriguing strain you’ve never had before! When consumed alongside cannabis, Pilsners are a refreshing palate cleanser that can be just the ticket after a long day of work.

CANNABIS INFUSED BEER

The beautiful synergy resulting from enjoying beer and weed together is amped up further with the advent of cannabis-infused beer. In case you were wondering, these groundbreaking beers do not contain psychoactive compound THC, but rather infuse cannabidiol (CBD) into alcohol. This process both gives beers a terpene-forward taste and offers consumers the myriad health benefits associated with CBD. The world over has been singing this cannabinoid’s praises, since it won’t make you feel high, but offers potential benefits against symptoms of physical pain and emotional anxiety.

PAIR RESPONSIBLY

When deciding to take a step into the great unknown of beer and bud, make sure you pair responsibly. A beautiful pairing can inspire a continued love for and understanding of brewing and cannabis, while a negative binge drinking experience can put a bitter taste in your mouth and a slight fog in your memory.

 

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