National Beer Day (April 7) is a very real international holiday that commemorates the 1933 signing of the Cullen-Harrison Act, which legalized low-alcohol beer and wine ahead of Prohibition's full repeal later that year. Besides their historic illicit status, hemp and hops are actually more similar than most people think—both belong to the Cannabaceae family of plants and produce terpenes—so bringing together beer drinkers and cannabis smokers is like a family reunion. This gives you all the more reason to celebrate with cannabis-infused brews.
Point Ybel Brewing Company focuses on cannabis for its flavor rather than its psychoactive benefits, and it will celebrate 420 with Blue Dream and Banana Kush versions of its New England-style SowFlo IPA. The brews contain 6.8 percent alcohol and terpenes sourced from Oregon-grown plants. You can get SowFlo and many other pints at the Point Ybel pub in Fort Myers, Florida. To help put everyone in the mood, the bar's 420 party will also feature live music from reggae band Roots Almighty. Next up? Those with tickets to the sold-out G. Love show can enjoy an Imperial Sour Ale brewed with Meyer lemons and infused with Super Lemon Haze terps.
Lagunitas has a long history with cannabis. In 2005, undercover Alcohol Beverage Control agents infiltrated the company's 4:20pm parties hoping to bust them for cannabis dealing. Some of the friendlier Lagunitas workers were a little too friendly passing their piff, but they would only share, not sell, driving the arrest-happy agents nuts. After blowing through wads of taxpayer money on an eight-week investigation, the agency finally raided Lagunitas during its St. Patrick's Day party and charged the company with "disorderly house" and "moral turpitude." The raid, dubbed the St. Patrick's Day Massacre, got the brewery shut down for 20 days—so less than one day for every three days spent investigating. Nevertheless, you gotta wonder what the Harry Anslinger wannabes think about the Lagunitas and AbsoluteXtracts (ABX) collaboration that produced the new cannabis-terpene brew Supercritical. The partnership includes a beer-infused vape, utilizing terpenes found in hops to give ABX smoke that signature Lagunitas flavor.
Dads & Dudes started slingin' pizza and beer in 2010, and it didn't take long for the Colorado-based restaurant to add cannabis to the mix. First introduced in 2012, Dank IPA is the love child of a classic stoner trinity: it’s a dry-hopped beer featuring notes of “smooth caramel maltiness reminiscent of old-school IPAs” meant to compliment signature pies like The 420 Pizza and The Munchies. Changes in federal law cost Dads & Dudes its license to brew CBD-infused beer, but after a legal battle with the state, Dank IPA is finally back.
San Diego-based Thorn Brewing specializes in innovative high-hop “hazy” beers. For this infused IPA, Thorn teamed up with Jetty Extracts to infuse cannabis terpenes into its brew—a convenient marriage since Jetty typically burns out the bulk of the terpene content when extracting oil to achieve higher concentrations of THC. This beer contains 4.20-percent alcohol and sources its terpene content from Jetty's Pineapple Express cartridges. With two locations and more coming, Thorn is disrupting San Diego's cannabis game with bud-filled booze.
Two Flowers IPA, the first CBD beer to come out of Oregon, is one of many collaborations between Coalition Brewing and Half Baked Labs set for 2018 release. The company brews this light, west coast-style IPA with “synergy” in mind—i.e., the grassiness of the CBD and strong citrus-y terpenes introduce rich flavor to the bitter hops. This beer might also be one of the easiest beers on this list to procure, available in 30 locations across Portland, Southern Oregon and Washington State.
Brewed with Citra and Mosaic hops and infused with freshly grated ginger and hemp honey, Long Trail Brewing delivers crisp hop-forward taste infused with CBD. Medicator was originally unveiled Labor Day Weekend 2017, and it is a seasonal partnership with Vermont’s Luce Farms, famous for its hemp-derived canna-honey. This collaboration has been in the works for years, after employees at Long Trail discovered hemp-honey and quickly saw the potential for an infused brew.
Fitger's Brewhouse calls Homegrown Hempen Ale "the gateway beer" because it releases the brew just once per year for the Homegrown Music Festival in Duluth, Minnesota. This full-bodied amber ale is made with ground hemp seeds, and BeerAdvocate user MeisterBurger described it as "sweet, like honey on lightly buttered toast, with notes of roasted nuts. Has a very light fruity taste to it with a bright punchy finish that melts in your mouth before fading away slowly." Duluth, by the way, is the birthplace of Bob Dylan, R.E.M. drummer Bill Berry and the dude that voiced Garfield the cat.
Humboldt Brewing Hemp Ale may very well be the oldest and most acclaimed beer on this list with a gold medal from the LA County Fair, among other accolades. For nearly a decade, it has remained the centerpiece of the six-beer lineup that Humboldt offers. This brown ale uses American hops and toasted hemp seeds for a dark, nutty, grassy flavor best accompanied by burgers or other beef-heavy foods.
Stoner Duck is a rich, malty ale by LA-based Venice Duck Brewery. Started by two former James Beach bartenders, Venice Duck crafts unique beers that aim to capture the essence of LA’s craziest beach (vagrants and street performers included). American hops and hemp seeds come together for a smoky taste reminiscent of cold-brewed coffee, chocolate and caramel. And yes, all their beers have duck themes.
The Hemperor is a hoppy, hemp seed-infused beer, and it gave New Belgium Brewing Company an excuse to lock up the copyright on "HPA." There’s just one little drawback: The brew has no THC or CBD. New Belgium says, "The Federal government would not allow us to brew with whole hemp flower because parts of the hemp plant (which contains little to no THC) [are] still classified as a Schedule 1 drug." That's a pretty cowardly move for a Colorado-based brewery, but New Belgium uses orange peel, grapefruit and pine sap to imitate canna-terpenes. Do they think terpenes are Schedule I as well? Nonetheless, the pseudo-terps are likely meant to imitate Limonene and Pinene, so if you're celebrating in a state that adores Jeff Sessions, the Hemperor is probably your best bet.
This time next year, you will actually be able to celebrate National Beer Day with a THC-infused brew. Keith Villa, the head brewmaster and creator of Blue Moon Brewing Co., retired from Molson Coors in January to start work on a new cannabis beer company called Ceria Beverages in Colorado. Unlike many of the other beers on this list, Ceria is specifically designed to get you high with the same onset time as alcohol. The catch? The "beer" must be non-alcoholic to comply with state laws against THC-infused alcoholic drinks. This means Villa will brew it like a craft beer and then remove the alcohol prior to infusion. Ceria hopes to release a line of light, regular and full-bodied beers by the year's end.
Michael Peña is a Los Angeles-based writer, musician and Kanye West enthusiast. He can be found on Instagram @ilooklikestevezahn.